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More Shelters Are Removing Breed Labels So Adopters Can Choose With Their Hearts

There’s no such thing as second chances when it comes to first impressions. That’s why it’s vital for shelter dogs to put their best paw forward each time they meet a potential adopter.

The latest research has proven that using breed labels hinders a dog’s ability to showcase her true self, and leaves an indelible black mark in the minds of prospective owners.

Chloe is hoping for a Home for the Holidays. This girl is fantastic with people and has lived in a home with children of…

Posted by Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter on Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Just last month, the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter in Texas announced that they would follow the growing trend of removing breed labels from their adoptable dogs. They released a statement that read, in part:

“How a dog is labeled or their physical appearance is not an indication of their personality, their past or future behavior, or their suitability for a particular adoption placement.”

ADOPTION ANGEL: An angel has chosen Cole and paid his adoption fee! Cole is a very friendly. people-orientated dog who…

Posted by Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter on Tuesday, January 3, 2017


A study conducted by Arizona State last year has proven invaluable to champions of the movement to do away with Breed Specific Legislation – state and county mandated laws that restrict ownership of breeds traditionally perceived as “dangerous” or “aggressive.”

Update on Lilly!
See news clip at:

Yesterday, Lilly was at the Cornell University Companion…

Posted by Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University on Thursday, October 2, 2014


The data proved what Pit Bull defenders have long suspected. Simply labeling an animal as a “Pit Bull-type dog” unfavorably affects the perception of potential adopters in categories like Approachability, Aggressiveness, Friendliness, and Adoptability.

Dogs labeled as sporting breeds like Labradors and Border Collies enjoy a greater than 80% adoption rate, while dogs described as “Pit Bulls” face a less than 50% chance of adoption, longer shelter stays, and a drastically increased risk of euthanasia.

Making these stats even more tragic are the results of yet another study, showing just how awful we are at assessing a dog’s breed on sight alone. The researchers asked 16 shelter workers – including veterinarians, assistants and animal control officers, to determine the breeds of 120 random dogs present in 4 different shelters.

Our thanks-giving has to include Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida. Even if all they did…

Posted by Plenty of Pit Bulls on Wednesday, November 27, 2013


As expected, the labels were wrong more than 75% of the time, and 1 in 3 dogs assessed as a Bully breed  carried absolutely no DNA of any “Pit Bull-type breed.” The goal of the research was not to show that vets and shelter staff are bad at determining dog breeds, but rather to show that it is next to impossible for anyone to do so on sight alone. DNA testing is needed to accurately determine this information.

How many of you –like us– would have guessed that these dogs are pit-mixes of some sort? Visual breed identification…

Posted by Adopt NY on Thursday, January 31, 2013


Since shelters and rescues simply do not have the additional resources to DNA test every dog they take in, breed labeling is an obsolete practice. Not only are the assessments overwhelmingly inaccurate, they are a poor indicator of a dog’s personality, and cost many otherwise adoptable dogs their very lives.

Cheryl Schneider, animal services director for Williamson County – the latest shelter to do away with breed labeling – put it beautifully:

“When you remove breed labels, you open the door to possibility. You have a chance to fall in love without being inhibited by breed. Instead, fall in love by listening to your heart.”

Featured Image via Williamson County Animal Shelter

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Written by Dina Fantegrossi

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