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Rescue Dog Breeds Revealed: A Close Look at the Most Common Dogs in Shelters

You’ve been seeking to add a new member to your family and every shelter you visit seems to have an abundance of rescue dog breeds available. Unfortunately, a lot of people adopt, breed, and buy without being fully aware of everything that goes into training their new pet to be a functional family member. There are many reasons for someone to surrender a pet but every case is unique. Let's delve into the top 10 most common dogs in shelters, the reasons they end up there, and why they might make the best rescue dogs.


Labrador Retreiver in front of a the Christmas tree

10. Labrador Retriever

Yes, you heard right. The Labrador Retriever, one of America’s most beloved dog breeds, is also one of the most common dog breeds in shelters all over the country.Their excellent reputation as loving and loyal pets could be their downfall, due to over breeding to meet demand. As one of the most adopted dog breeds, the Labrador can make an ideal family pet with proper training!


Beagle in play bow position

9. Beagle

These dogs are cute and sweet with adorable floppy ears but were originally bred as hunting companions. Due to this, the Beagle has a big voice that it’s not afraid to use. As hunting dogs, this is a good trait to alert their owner to potential prey. But as house pets, their loud bark can be a nuisance to landlords and neighbors. In addition, their stubborn nature makes it difficult to train this trait out.


Black and Brown Chihuahua with tongue hanging out

8. Chihuahua

The Chihuahua is most likely on this list due to it’s gained popularity from fashionistas and movie stars toting them around in purses. They were also the stars of a lot of movies in the 90’s and early 2000’s and seemed to be adorable accessories on film. In reality, a Chihuahua is just like any other pet and requires training, care and a comfortable home. Once people realize they’re more work than they thought, they are often surrendered.


German Shepherd sitting in a snowy backyard

7. German Shepherd

Oftentimes,German Shepherds are often purchased as guard dogs due to their reputation. However, without proper training and care, these energetic dogs can develop destructive and aggressive behaviors.They need to have a fulfilling job to perform or they will often times become out of control. Many who surrender these dogs are unprepared for the time and energy required to raise this breed.


Eldery Daschund sleeping

6. Dachshund

With a high level of personality packed into a small dog, Dachshunds can be irresistible but also challenging due to their stubborn and quirky nature. They're known for their propensity to dig, an instinct from their badger and mole hunting days, which can lead to household and lawn damage if left unchecked. These issues often result in them being among the most surrendered breeds.


Boxer rest on the arm of a couch

5. Boxer

Boxers are playful, energetic breeds that need a lot of attention. If not given enough interaction, they can become destructive. With the right structure and plenty of love, they can make great family pets.



Smiling pitbull walking in the woods

4. Pit Bull

The Pit Bull takes the dubious honor of being the most common breed found in shelters. This breed is often abused, and neglected leading them to have a hard time trusting people.This breed, often misunderstood due to media misrepresentation and breed-specific laws, is typically very loving and loyal when treated right. Bad people often are the ones tainting this breed's name. Treat these dogs right and they will be loving and loyal family pets.


Jack Russell Terrier in the back seat of a car

3. Jack Russell Terrier

This small but highly energetic breed can be challenging without proper training. Despite their size, they need rigorous daily exercise to avoid boredom-related behaviors like digging and barking. This misunderstood requirement often leads to Jack Russells becoming one of the most common breeds in shelters.


American Staffordshire Terrier lauing on a front porch

2. American Staffordshire Terrier

Discrimination and misconceptions significantly affect this breed, similar to Pit Bulls. Despite their athletic and affectionate nature, mistreatment can lead to aggressive behaviors, resulting in their surrender to shelters. These dogs are extremely similar to Pit Bulls, and visually almost impossible to tell apart. They can become aggressive when they are mistreated by bad people and often are.


American Bulldog with bottom teeth showing

1. American Bulldog

Another dog that tends to get lumped in with Pit Bulls is the American Bulldog. They are visually similar with their blocky heads and thick musculature. American Bulldogs face a lot of discrimination from people who think they look mean and pass over them at a shelter. Housing restrictions from landlords and city laws can also keep people from being able to bring one of these dogs. They can do extremely well in the right hands with someone who has experience training stubborn dogs. 

The reasons these breeds end up as the most common in shelters can be diverse. Nevertheless, it's clear that potential pet owners often underestimate the commitment and time required to raise a dog. Therefore, if you're considering adopting a pet, ensure you're fully prepared for their individual needs and ready to provide a loving, permanent home. Remember, a dog should never be an impulse buy.

When considering adopting, always check your local shelters. There’s a plethora of dogs in need, and you might discover that a pup from one of these breeds most commonly found in shelters is waiting just for you. They're ready to fill that spot in your heart and home. Moreover, each of these breeds, despite their past, has the potential to become the best rescue dogs with the right care and attention.

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