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The 6 Most Common Dogs in Animal Shelters — And Why You Should Consider Taking Them Home

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With all the love and loyalty dogs give us, PEDIGREE® is a huge supporter of animal adoption. In our work with shelters around the world, we’ve noticed certain dog breeds are found there more than others. This is often a result of unfair breed stereotypes, overbreeding popular dogs or dogs requiring higher amounts of care than anticipated.

We want to speak out on behalf of these animals — what might not be right for one owner could be the dog of a lifetime for another, like you!


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Six Common Dog Breeds in Shelters

Let’s take a look at some of these dog breeds often in search of a forever home.

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Pit Bulls

Pit bulls are long misunderstood for their athleticism, which, sadly, often makes them targets of abuse and gives them a reputation for being dangerous. In reality, they’re quite patient, fun-loving and wonderful around children. Their tenacity and courage also make them very receptive to training .

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Labrador Retrievers

This is America’s most popular dog, which, at times, leads to overbreeding by irresponsible breeders. It’s unfortunate because they’re loyal and loving, with more than enough attention to give to an entire family. Plus, they really love playing in the water.

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German Shepherds

A very popular large dog and often another victim of overbreeding, German shepherds are loyal, confident, smart and easy to train. They’re usually easygoing but can be protective when threatened, making them excellent watchdogs.

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Did you know these adorable “wiener dogs” were originally bred in Germany to hunt badgers? That’s why they can have such strong and stubborn personalities despite their small size. They’re also very clever, loyal to their owners and excellent snugglers.

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While adorable and loving, this breed does often have a nervous personality, which can cause them to bark or snap at strangers. Chihuahuas can be alert and wary of strangers at first, but loyal and good family pets if treated properly. Their petite size makes them perfect companions for people in smaller homes or apartments.

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These strong, athletic dogs can be excitable, so they may require more exercise and attention than some owners are prepared to give. Boxers are awfully sweet and playful and love to stay busy. If you’re looking for a furry workout partner, this may be it.

Finding Your Furry Soulmate

Remember that these characteristics are just a starting point when picking a dog breed, and many shelter dogs may be a mix of several breeds. Every shelter dog has their own unique personality and temperament, so it’s important to spend some time getting to know each other at the shelter before bringing them to their forever home.

If you’d like to learn more about pet adoption and what to expect, you can find tons of helpful articles and resources at

  • The Serious Benefits of Play

    dog carrying a frisbee in its mouth

    Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.

    The benefits of play

    Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:

    • Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
    • Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
    • Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
    • Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
    • Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.

    How to play with your dog

    There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.

    When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.

    When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.

    Playtime tips

    • Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
    • Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
    • Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
    • Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
    • You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
    • If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!

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