A happy blue and white Pit Bull Terrier mixed breed dog

10 Popular Rescue Breeds That Want to Love You Forever

Thinking about adopting a rescue dog? Curious about some of the most popular rescue breeds that you'll find at a shelter? Bringing a dog into your home is a big decision, but it can mean a wonderful new experience for your family if you find the right breed that suits your family's activity level and schedule. According to the ASPCA, every year 3.3 million dogs enter an animal shelter, which sadly means you will likely have a lot of choice when it comes to selecting your family's future pet. That said, it's important to take your time when making this decision while considering the financial implication (cost of vet visits, food, etc.), how much exercise the breed needs, and if your family is ready for this commitment.

Worth considering: during this decision-making process, become a foster to a shelter pet. Joan Harris, director of canine training and behavior at PAWS Chicago told Reader's Digest, “Becoming a temporary foster home is an excellent way for your family to learn more about pet ownership, gain first-hand experience on what works for your home environment, and see if you’re ready for a new permanent member of the family. You can think of it like a test-drive.” So even if this list doesn't make the decision for you, talk to your local shelter about fostering to find a pup that fits.


American Pit Bull Terrier

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According to Vet Street, the Pit Bull — "Pittie" or APBT as he’s known for short — is often described as a goofball or clown. While this medium-sized dog is not always aggressive, he has a dicey reputation because of his background as a fighting dog. The pit bull can be a wonderful family companion with people who appreciate and understand his personality. You're likely to see many pit bulls at shelters due to overpopulation and prejudice against the breed as a whole.


Labrador Retriever

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According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), labrador retrievers have been the most popular dog breed in the US for the last 25 years. As such, many of them 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, which is why a lab mix would be a less costlier animal when it comes to health issues.



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The Chihuahua is another popular dog breed that got too popular, thus ending up in shelters in droves. Chihuahuas gained popularity as pets in the ’90s and early 2000s thanks to movies and Hollywood starlets, but what people didn’t seem to realize was that these dogs aren’t just cute accessories. They are smart and loving, but require a lot of care and attention. As with any dog breed, a lot of research is needed before deciding what kind of dog will suit your family's living situation best.



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Boxers are popular in shelters because unfortunately, they are likely to have health problems like allergies and certain cancers, and can become too expensive for an owner to keep. Otherwise, they can make a great family pet because they're known for their playful, silly demeanor, and outgoing personalities.


German Shepherd

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Unfortunately, many German Shepherds go into shelters because there is a misunderstanding of what it takes to train and care for this breed. It can be a loyal and trainable breed, but know that it will grow up to be a big dog that needs lots of exercise, both mental and physical, and the room to do it (i.e., not great for apartment living).



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The Beagle is a popular dog in shelters because of its loudmouth reputation. In fact, in French, "beagle" actually means loud mouth. Sadly, many are also given up after they are no more use during hunting season. While they are known for being difficult to train, many people love Beagles for other reasons, primarily their playful personality, noted the website Beagle Savvy. And yes, they do love to howl.


American Staffordshire Terrier

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The American Staffordshire Terrier is a muscular breed which gives the impression not only of great strength for their size, but also of grace and agility. They are easily trainable, but sometimes get lumped in with the Pit Bull breed because they are so similar, and shelters are so busy that they rarely take the time to differentiate between the two.



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Yes, the world's cutest "hot dog" on legs is one of the most popular breeds to be found in dog shelters, according to the website Charity Paws. Yet again, it reflects the popularity of the breed rather than any problem with them. Unfortunately, dachshunds are prone to spinal problems due to their long backs, which can be incredibly expensive if the owners don’t have pet insurance.


American Bulldog

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While the American Bulldog may look mean and not very friendly, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. American Bulldog puppies are loving, kind, and are a great family dog. They too are often lumped in with pit bulls, which is why you find so many in shelters.


Australian Cattle Dog

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The Australian Cattle Dog is best known as a working dog, happiest on the farm herding cattle or sheep. This breed is high energy, intelligent and always looking for a job to do. Many cattle dogs have found their way to shelters as more and more families have left ranches for suburban life.