5 Purebred Dog Breeds Most Commonly Found in Shelters


As many who have worked in rescues know, it is possible to find a purebred dog in a shelter. In fact, there are a large number of purebreds in shelters, and many breed rescues throughout the country. Using the data generated by Petfinder, we have narrowed down the five most common purebred breeds found in shelters.

Purebred Dog Breed: American Pit Bull Terrier

  • Dog’s Available: 20, 558
  • Average Lifespan: 8 to 15 years

Numbers for the American Pit Bull Terrier may differ slightly because many shelters misidentify many dog breeds as pit bulls. However, that being said, there is still a large number of pit bull and pit bull type breeds in shelters across the US.

Pit bulls are an intelligent breed. They are obedient, loyal and very affectionate. Pit bulls do very well with children and were called nanny dogs in the past.

However, the stigma around the pit bull often sees them in shelters for longer. They also need plenty of socialization and obedience training; the lack of both can lead to owners surrendering them.

Purebred Dog Breed: Labrador Retriever

  • Dog’s Available: 18, 761
  • Average Lifespan: 10 to 14 years

Being America’s number one dog for 26 consecutive years can be both a blessing and a curse. As a blessing, everyone knows what a Labrador retriever is with their energetic, sporty temperament and loving nature.

As a curse, the Labrador retriever is often a victim of backyard breeders and puppy mills. They have a high energy, which many owners are not often prepared for. With these statistics, there is little doubt as to why this purebred dog breed winds up in shelters. 

Known for being loyal and loving, the breed is eager to please. This makes them easy to train and when properly cared for, the breed is friendly and gentle. With proper care, the Labrador retriever is a perfect family pet.

Purebred Dog Breed: Chihuahua

  • Dog’s Available: 11,372
  • Average Lifespan: 12 to 20 years

They’re toy sized and incredibly cute. Fatally cute. And not because they will be your undoing but because Chihuahuas are a breed that people purchase because of cuteness. Then they realize that this is a dog with all the care and training that needs to go into them.

Often, Chihuahuas are raised without training and suffer from small dog syndrome, which sends them straight to a shelter. With proper rehabilitation and training, the Chihuahua is still a big dog in a tiny body.

They are affectionate and attentive but they love being in charge of the house. The breed is often loyal to only one person in the house and isn’t the best breed for families due to their small size.

Purebred Dog Breed: Boxer

  • Dog’s Available: 6,202
  • Average Lifespan: 10 to 12 years

Not seen as abundantly as the first breeds, the boxer is a high-energy breed that is a common sight in shelters across the US. This is partly due to the fact that Boxers are very headstrong, a trait most new owners don’t expect.

Add to that, their excitability and owners often find themselves faced with re-homing when they struggle with training. Nevertheless, the breed is a wonderful one. They are loving and friendly.

Being extremely happy, the boxer adds a lot of excitement and laughter to their homes, which makes them a perfect candidate for adoption.

Purebred Dog Breed: German Shepherd Dog


  • Dog’s Available: 5,356
  • Average Lifespan: 9 to 13 years

The final breed on our list is the German Shepherd Dog. Like the Labrador retriever, the German shepherd dog is the second most popular dog in the US. This equates to more puppies produced by puppy mills and backyard breeders.

It also means that many people purchase a German shepherd without realizing the time and training that goes into owning this breed. Known for their intelligence and obedience, the German shepherd needs plenty of exercise every day, along with lots of training.

They are wonderful family pets, excellent with children, but their popularity has lead to an increase in poor breeding practices.

Finding a purebred dog breed in shelters is not difficult as there are thousands available every day on Petfinder. Interested in adding a purebred dog breed, check out all of the available purebreds, including these most common purebred dog breeds, waiting in shelters for their very own forever homes.