Top 5 Myths About Shelter Dogs



shelter dog myths

Even though shelters are overcrowded, many people are hesitant to adopt a shelter dog. There’s a common stereotype that shelter dogs “have something wrong with them” and that’s why they’re in the shelter- even though a majority of surrendered dogs are given to the pound due to reasons that have nothing to do with the dog itself. Families move and sometimes can’t take their pets with them, or owners get deployed or pass away. This leaves loving dogs abandoned to shelters where people are often skeptical of adoption. Here are five major myths:

  1. Shelter Dogs Are Defective

Dogs at the pound are often perceived to have a defect- such as violence, aggression, or general bad behavior- and “that’s why their owners gave them up.” The truth is that most dogs wind up in shelters due to their owners’ living and financial situations. Some dogs end up in the pound when an owner can’t properly take care of them anymore due to low income or stressful living situations. Other dogs are given up when owners die, get deployed, or have to move suddenly.

Some dogs wind up in shelters due to owners’ different expectations. A family with a new baby may realize that they don’t have the time to walk their energetic collie three times a day, or a couple in an apartment may find that their tiny studio is too small for that Saint Bernard. The dogs are given up, even though it’s no fault of their own. A majority of dogs find themselves in shelters due to reasons like this.

  1. Shelter Dogs Can “Turn” Due To Violent History

Many people have said, “You don’t want to get a shelter dog, because you don’t know the dog’s history. It can suddenly ‘turn’ on you.” For anyone who believes this myth, I’d like to remind them that you don’t know the dog’s history- but neither does the dog. Dogs live in the present; a stable, comforting environment with regular walks, meals, and affection will give your newly adopted dog a happy life despite any trauma in its past.

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  1. Shelter Dogs Are All Mutts

Yes, many shelter dogs are mutts, but about one-quarter of them are purebred. If you’re looking to adopt a purebred dog, try the shelter first before the breeder. There are also rescue groups that specialize in certain breeds. But purebred dogs experience more health problems than mixed breeds due to inbreeding. Purebred dogs such as German shepherds can suffer from hip dysplasia, while Cavalier King Charles spaniels can acquire a dangerous nerve disease called syringomelia. A majority of shelter dogs may be mutts, but they’re healthier for it.

  1. They’ll Require Expensive Medical Care

There’s a myth that shelter dogs have been surrendered due to illness and that adopting families will have to pay for expensive veterinary care. Some dogs do have lasting conditions, but most of them are healthy, energetic mixed-breed dogs who are just looking for a family they can love.

  1. Shelter Dogs Are Old

Many people don’t adopt from shelters because they want to raise a puppy, so they go to a breeder. But an adult dog is a better investment because you already know the dog’s temperament and it’s had all of the expensive vaccines. Raising a puppy is like having a baby; you have to watch it all the time, take it to puppy kindergarten, and pay for vaccines and neutering. For couples and young families, it can be an expensive and time-consuming proposition. An adult dog is a great choice because it’s less costly and you already know the personality of the dog you’ll bring home.

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WagBrag’s co-founder, Russ Boles, has a deep history in animal rescue and welfare. For the past 12 years, Russ has served in various roles with Atlanta-based animal advocacy organizations focused on rescue, training and education. In addition, Russ led a local rescue volunteer team into New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina, assisting in efforts to rescue and care for stranded animals. This experience changed his life, and animal rescue and advocacy will always be a part of everything he does.