Know your breeds: Shelter dogs in need of good homes

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Thousands of dogs end up in shelters every year. Some get reunited with family members, but the vast majority are strays or surrendered by their owners.

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that animal shelters care for between six and eight million dogs and cats every year, and approximately half of those animals are ultimately euthanized. Substantial progress has been made to reduce the number of shelter animals that are euthanized, but more work is necessary to save animals from this unfortunate fate. To help reduce the number of homeless animals, many different shelters work to place animals in homes and educate men, women and children about pet overpopulation. Certain breeds tend to be more populous than others in shelters.

It is possible to find purebred dogs in shelters, and some shelters even specialize at placing particular breeds. However, many shelter dogs are mixed-breeds, often referred to as mutts. According to polling from various shelters across the country, pit bulls, labradors, German shepherds, beagles, and their mixes tend to be the most common types of dogs found in shelters. Dogs perceived to be too hyper or aggressive frequently arrive at shelters when people find they cannot manage the animals. But with some training and discipline, many dogs can become beloved companions.

The following is a look at the general temperament of common shelter dogs and the type of care and handling such dogs may require.

Pit bull terrier

A well-bred pit bull can be a dependable, loyal and good-natured companion. These dogs are athletic and must have moderate daily exercise to stay healthy and prevent boredom.

Pit bulls can be stubborn and dominant, meaning they will need confident owners who can establish and enforce expected behaviors. While they can be friendly with people, pit bulls may be assertive around other dogs, particularly when they feel their dominance is being challenged. In addition, these dogs have a high prey instinct and may chase cats or other small animals.

Pit bulls can usually live comfortably if they have adequate mental stimulation and are socialized at an early age.


Beagles are the perfect size for many families, and they also make friendly and peaceful dogs. Then why do they end up in shelters so readily? Beagles were developed as hunting dogs and may have these traits programmed into their heads to chase and seek out prey. WhatÕs more, beagles need a lot of exercise, and some people simply do not have the time or inclination to exercise their dogs.

Beagles can bay or howl when they become bored, and they may dig holes or try to escape close quarters. For these reasons, beagles may end up turned over to shelters. But firm training and positive outlets for energy can help make beagles welcome companions.

German shepherd

Well-bred German shepherds are often self-confident and aloof but not hostile. But many German shepherds, thanks in part to overbreeding, exhibit unpredictable behavior.

German shepherds are a working breed and were developed to be smart and forward-thinking. Shepherds need mental stimulation to remain happy and could become destructive if not given a good intellectual outlet, such as agility classes or herding opportunities.

German shepherds shed a lot of hair, making them undesirable to some people. When not properly socialized, shepherds may be aggressive toward other dogs, which can be problematic. However, a shepherd that has been bred well, trained and socialized can make a loyal and friendly pet.

— Metro Creative

Take the time to learn about the breed of dog you’re considering to adopt. Informed decisions lead to lifelong relationships.