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Survey Reveals Misconceptions about Purebred Dogs in Animal Shelters

Shelter Infographic

A groundbreaking shelter study released today by the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) reveals that U.S. animal shelters are reporting an all-time low in the number of purebred dogs available. 

The study finds that only about five percent of the dogs available in U.S. shelters are purebred; a significant departure from the 25% figure commonly assumed.  If pitbulls (a commonly misidentified dog) and Chihuahuas (which are the leading import dog for relocation programs) are removed from the purebred total the percentage drops to closer to 3%.

This survey shows “tremendous progress in eradicating dog overpopulation and substantially reducing the number of shelter deaths which occurred in the past due to indiscriminate or accidental breeding,” said Patti Strand, president of NAIA.

Strand credited animal sheltering groups and national dog organizations like the American Kennel Club (AKC) for launching ongoing campaigns encouraging pet owners to select their pets more carefully, neuter dogs not intended for breeding programs, and understand the lifelong commitment that responsible dog ownership requires. She also commended the AKC breed rescue groups that work directly with shelters to save purebred dogs suitable for adoption.

The study is also significant because it reveals common misconceptions about purebred dogs in shelters and exposes the fallacy that pet purchasers who prefer a purebred pet or one from a documented source somehow hurt a dog in a shelter through their choice of pet.  “The best way to prevent pets from being in shelters is to be a responsible pet owner”, said Sheila Goffe of the American Kennel Club. “There are a variety of sources from which you can get a great pet. But responsibility starts with carefully selecting the right pet for your lifestyle so that you can care for it appropriately and have a rewarding lifelong relationship.”

The NAIA, a national advocacy group for responsible animal ownership, has long been involved in efforts to reduce the number of adoptable pets that are euthanized in American animal shelters.

Strand notes that the problems surrounding shelter euthanasia and the expansion of shelters in the United States is complex.  “To make progress toward effective solutions we need a clearer understanding of the many issues involved”.  To achieve this, NAIA calls for new state and federal laws prohibiting imports of rescue dogs from overseas and expanded oversight and reporting requirements for U.S. shelters.

To learn more about NAIA’s recent report and its ongoing commitment to the study of shelter issues, contact NAIA at or 503-761-8962 and visit