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American Shelter Dogs: It’s What’s On the Inside





Growing up, you may have had a dog that was just “the best.” We all have had that dog. That dog that would jump into the lake with you when you went swimming, or would fetch with a bottomless reserve of energy, or would just curl up next to you and take naps. Maybe it would rest its head on your lap while you watched TV, get super excited to go for walks, and always stuck by your side.


Maybe that’s the kind of dog your family always aimed for in certain breeds – because it was “the best kind of dog,” according to your parents. Or maybe that’s the dog you’ve been looking for ever since – so you look out for a dog of that breed when you browse through your local shelter or PetFinder.


But you know that it wasn’t really how the canine looked that made it the best. It was its behavior, its personality, its soul. So when looking for a new “best dog,” why is its looks usually a key determining factor?

Enter the American Shelter Dog. Like its name implies, these are the dogs you can find at shelters all across the country, but unlike other canines, they’re more defined by their personality and less by their looks.


Here at Animal Care Sanctuary, transport day is one of the most exciting days for our staff. We get to meet canines that have come from all over the country to find their forever homes here. We never truly know what we’re going to get until we see them get off the truck.


But, truthfully, we typically just don’t know the breed of a dog just by looking it. We don’t usually have DNA testing kits, and these canines come from all walks of life. They have their own story and ancestry of which we’re usually not aware. In many cases, applying a breed label to a rescue is not much more than a guess. In fact, according to Family Pet, 87.5 percent of shelter dogs are misidentified by adoption agencies.

Take Porter for example. While at first glance he may look like a lab mix, he’s actually only 12.5 percent Labrador retriever. In fact, he’s also 12.5 percent each of American Staffordshire Terrier, Chow Chow, Golden Retriever, Rottweiler and White Swiss Shepherd. Then there’s Ava. While her shelter breed was listed as a “shepherd mix,” a DNA test revealed her to be a mix of mostly Husky, Corgi and Whippet.


So when you’re looking for a new furry friend and you’re asked “what kind of dog are you looking for?” just know that simply saying “a lab” will not help your search as much as you think. Beyond the physical size of the kind of canine you want, when thinking about the kind of dog you want, think about what’s on the inside.

Say that you’re looking for a dog that’s playful and energetic, or one that is a laid-back lapdog. Think about what you want on the inside instead of what you’re looking for on the outside. Take some time to learn about a dog before making a predetermined judgment on what you think its breed is typically like. Talk to the shelter staff; they want to see the doggo find the perfect home as much as you want to find the perfect furry friend. The American Shelter Dog comes in all sizes and colors, but they are all capable, loving and thankful to find their forever homes.