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Top 10 Questions to Ask When Getting a Dog from a Shelter

Mixed breed dog at a shelter waiting to go home.

Congratulations on making the decision to welcome a new furry friend into your home. Just as it’s important to ask breeders questions about their practices before purchasing a puppy, it’s equally important to do a little digging before rescuing a dog from a shelter. Here are some pre-adoption questions to ask to make sure the dog your select is the best fit for you and your family.  

  1. Why is this dog in a shelter? (a. owner surrender, b. stray, c. rescue)
    a. Why did the owner surrender the dog?
    b. Where was this stray dog found and in what condition?
    c. Is this animal here as a result of an animal cruelty charge against its previous owner?
  2. What was the condition of the dog when he was brought to the shelter?
  3. Has this dog been adopted out before?
  4. What veterinary care has the dog received since arriving at the shelter and can you provide copies of those veterinary records?
  5. Is this dog housebroken?
  6. Does this dog get along well with children or other pets and how does he act around strangers?
  7. Does this dog have suitable good manners that I could take away his food bowl while eating or remove his toy while playing?
  8. Can this dog walk calmly on a leash in public or does he need further training?
  9. Does this dog require any special medical care, ongoing treatment or dietary restrictions?
  10. Will the shelter take this dog back if it doesn’t work out with my family?

Tip: Is your shelter dog a mixed-breed? Check out the AKC Canine Partners Program to learn about events and opportunities for mixed-breed dogs.