Labeling Shelter Dogs By Breed Can Hurt Their Adoptability, Study Finds

Labeling Shelter Dogs By Breed Can Hurt Their Adoptability, Study Finds

Shelter dogs should be identified by their physical and behavioral characteristics rather than by their breed, finds an Arizona State University study.

Researchers say animal shelters usually determine a dog’s breed by their visual appearance and rarely conduct genetic breed testing. Scientists analyzed 460 dogs, which is the largest sampling of shelter dogs’ breed identities to date. They found 125 distinct breeds within two shetlers, Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA (AAWL) in Phoenix, Arizona, and at the San Diego Humane Society & SPCA (SDHS) in San Diego, California.  

The three most common breed assignments, starting from the most common, were American Staffordshire Terrier, Chihuahua, and Poodle. On average, most dogs were made up of three different breeds.

The study says shelter dogs are much more than breed labels, since labeling dogs by breeds can affect their adoptability; for example researchers found pit-bull type dogs waited longer to be adopted than other breeds. Researchers say what really matters is a dog’s behavior and how it will fit in with its adoptive family.

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