Most Common Dog Breeds Found at Shelters

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As much as Americans love their dogs, far too many of our canine friends end up abandoned at shelters.

Most often, according to a study by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, this happens for unforeseen reasons — a move, personal problems, an inflexible landlord. But sometimes it is because the owner did not take into consideration the breed’s traits when acquiring the dog. It’s not easy to think about the potential compatibility of you and your pet when cuddling a cute puppy.

24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of the dog breeds most commonly found at shelters throughout the country. Some of the breeds on the list — like pit bulls or Rottweilers — are not so surprising. Bred to herd much larger animals such as cattle, they have retained some of those fearless and protective characteristics and need to be carefully trained. Other dogs on the list, like the husky or border collie, are especially active and need a lot of exercise. That requires time — something their owners may not have considered.

The dog most often found at American shelters is the Labrador retriever, also the most popular breed in the country. This apparent contradiction — that the most beloved dog is also one of the most readily given up — can most likely be attributed to the sheer number of retrievers in American households.

To identify the 30 dog breeds most commonly found at rescue shelters, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from This website represents most of the shelters and rescue groups in the United States and provides real-time data for the various breeds listed as available for adoption. Many of the dogs found at the rescues are mixes but are identified by the breed that best matches their looks and personalities. analyzed over 240 dog breeds.

24/7 Wall St. added information related to each breed’s personality, trainability, and other traits from the American Kennel Club. AKC experts used breed standards, written by dog breed organizations that specify size, activity level, intelligence, and other attributes.

Average life expectancy data comes from a study: “Single-Nucleotide-Polymorphism-Based Association Mapping of Dog Stereotypes.” This research analyzed the DNA of 148 domestic dog breeds based on their size, temperament, trainability, and their average age at death. The longevity data primarily represents owner surveys.

Click here to see the most common dog breeds found in shelters.

Click here to see the methodology.