Study: These Are The 10 Most Common Dog Breeds Found In Shelters

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi

April 25, 2016

BARK partners with shelters, rescues and non-profits to help support their efforts in many ways. Want to get your local shelter or rescue involved? Have one of their representatives visit to learn more!

PetBreeds is a unique website that compiles data on dogs and cats. Topics include the average lifespan, shedding tendency, and character traits of different breeds to help pawrents choose the perfect pet for their family. They recently compiled the 2015 statistics on the top 25 dog breeds most often found in shelters using data provided by

Note: It is not specified whether the stats include breed mixes, but most shelters and rescue groups do not perform DNA tests.


10. American Bulldog

Total Number Available for Adoption: 604

Because of their blocky heads and familiar markings, American Bulldogs are often lumped in as Pit Bulls. This may lead to them being discriminated against by city ordinances and housing restrictions. Could this be why American Bulldogs made the top ten, and find themselves in shelters in such high numbers?

am bulldog

9. Australian Cattle Dog

Total Number Available for Adoption: 697

Australian Cattle Dogs are known for their intelligence and high energy. The same traits that make them excellent herding and working dogs may very well be the ones that lead to them being surrendered to shelters and rescues. People fall in love with their gorgeous appearance and not too big, not too small size, but often aren’t prepared for the amount of exercise and mental stimulation required by these dogs.


8. Beagle

Total Number Available for Adoption: 934

Beagles were originally bred to be hunting companions. Their sharp, braying bark is a throwback to the days of alerting their masters to a potential kill. The breed is also known to be extremely stubborn. Poor hunting dogs often find themselves abandoned by their owners, or may run away on their own. Those who choose a Beagle as a regular family pet may end up surrendering them to shelters when they prove difficult to train.


7. Boxer

Total Number Available for Adoption: 1,080

Boxers are known for their playful, silly demeanor, and outgoing personalities. They typically make excellent family pets, but can be high energy and have a propensity for health problems like allergies and certain cancers. Boxer owners may give up their dogs when the veterinary bills become too much to handle.


6. Dachshund

Total Number Available for Adoption: 1,122

These little hot dogs are extremely popular among small dog fans. They can be sweet and inquisitive, or temperamental. Their long spines put them at risk for serious and expensive injuries, and they have a tendency towards obesity if their diets are not carefully managed. Perhaps these reasons explain why so many Dachshunds find themselves in the shelter system.


5. American Staffordshire Terrier

Total Number Available for Adoption: 1,128

American Staffordshire Terriers are one of three breeds commonly referred to as “Pit Bulls” and face serious breed discrimination because of it. Like the American Pit Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, they are athletic, smart, strong, affectionate, and extremely loyal. (Note: It is virtually impossible to visually distinguish an American Staffordshire Terrier from an American Pit Bull Terrier – and sometimes even DNA tests are confused – so who knows how many of these dogs are the latter as opposed to the former. It’s also worth pointing out that shelters rarely differentiate between them, instead referring to these dogs as either “Pit Bulls” or “Pit Bull mixes.”)

American Staffordshire Terrier

4. German Shepherd

Total Number Available for Adoption: 1,378

Shepherds are favored by the US armed forces and law enforcement departments across the country. Their standout trait is their fierce loyalty to their people. Without proper training and exercise this loyalty can lead to misplaced aggression. Does this possibly explain why this regal breed is so strongly represented in US shelters?


3. Labrador Retriever

Total Number Available for Adoption: 3,587

Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular dog breed in America for 25 years running. It could be the sheer volume of Labs bred to meet this demand that accounts for so many of them showing up in shelters (and, indeed, popularity of a breed is a major factor for why they end up in shelters). Labs are considered to be loyal and extremely friendly, but can be costly to care for in terms of feeding and health concerns. For the most beloved American breed, the number of Labs available for adoption in 2015 is shocking to say the least.


2. Chihuahua

Total Number Available for Adoption: 3,725

Chihuahuas gained popularity as pets in the ’90s and early 2000s with movies like Legally Blond and Beverly Hills Chihuahua; not to mention their ever-presence in the arms and purses of Hollywood starlets. What people didn’t seem to realize was that these dogs aren’t just accessories. They require a lot of care and attention. Chihuahuas are smart and loving, but can be downright sassy! The dogs were given up to shelters in droves when the reality of caring for them set in. At one point shelters in the Los Angeles area were asking other U.S. shelters to take in some of these abandoned pups to lighten the load at their facilities.


1. American Pit Bull Terrier

Total Number Available for Adoption: 5,435

Not surprisingly at all, American Pit Bull Terriers were the number one breed represented in U.S. shelters for 2015 by a landslide. These dogs face overwhelming discrimination and misrepresentation in the media. In recent years, more and more advocacy groups have joined the crusade to clear the Pit Bull name, and push for dogs to be judged by their individual behavior, not just sensationalistic journalism. Hopefully, this unfair number of homeless Pits will diminish as breed specific laws are abolished, and the Pit Bull persona is given a fresh perspective.


We do not know the exact reasons behind these dogs being so highly represented in U.S. shelters. But what all of these breeds have in common is that they are among the most popular in the country. Perhaps they are over-bred, given up for financial reasons, or simply more than the owners could handle.

Before bringing any new pet into your home, please be sure to research the breed characteristics and cost of care you can expect. We can reduce the number of great dogs in shelters through education, and, of course, adoption.

Looking to make a difference right now? Use code BARKGIVES on for 50% off your first box on any 6 or 12 month plan PLUS we’ll donate $10 to our rescue partners with every redemption!

H/T to and

Featured Image via @MarendaTaylor/Instagram

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Written by: Dina Fantegrossi

April 25, 2016


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.