Rise of the underdog: Study reveals remarkable shift toward adoption of shelter dogs over purebreds in California

In the past, the sight of purebred dogs like DachshundsBoston Terriers, and French Bulldogs was common in American neighborhoods. However, recently a notable shift in consumers’ preferences has steered away from these purebreds despite their previous popularity.

For some, the exorbitant cost of purebred dogs, which can reach up to $10,000 for breeds such as Rottweilers and Chow Chows, is a considerable deterrent. For others, the concern is over health issues commonly associated with purebreds.

English Bulldogs and Pugs, for instance, are often plagued with respiratory problems. Also, many individuals also feel a moral obligation to provide homes to shelter dogs.

Bone Voyage Dog Rescue recently conducted a study revealing a significant shift towards adopting shelter dogs over purchasing purebreds from breeders. A survey of 3,000 potential dog owners in California revealed that an impressive 42 percent of them expressed an intent to adopt from shelters, marking a 2 percent swing toward possible shelter dog ownership when contrasted with older data from the Humane Society of the United States, which indicated that 40 percent of pet dogs in households were previously shelter dogs.

“This increasing trend towards shelter dog adoption promises substantial improvements in the welfare of homeless animals. The shift could lead to a decrease in the number of dogs in shelters, as more are adopted,” said Annette Thompson, Executive Director of Bone Voyage Dog Rescue, when commenting on the study.

A state-by-state analysis of the survey data revealed the strongest preference for shelter dog adoption is in Nebraska, with a remarkable 81 percent expressing a preference for shelter dogs over purebred breeds.

In a complementary study, Bone Voyage Dog Rescue used Google Search trends to understand the public’s interest in shelter dogs over the past year. The insights from Google mirrored the survey data, reinforcing the shift towards shelter dog ownership.

Among the top 25 states most interested in ‘shelter dog adoption’, 22 demonstrated a marked shift towards this preference, as per the survey data. Wyoming, for instance, had the highest proportion of shelter dog searches, reflecting its second-place ranking in the survey. Similarly, California ranked 15th in Google searches for shelter dogs, aligning with its position in the survey for those most likely to adopt a shelter dog.

The rising trend of shelter dog adoption holds considerable potential for improving animal welfare in the US. This shift could have multi-faceted benefits, creating a ripple effect that extends beyond the lives of the individual dogs adopted.

Decreasing the number of dogs residing in shelters is a primary benefit. With more dogs finding homes, the overall population in shelters would shrink. Consequently, shelters would have more resources available per animal, including space, staff attention, and medical care. This shift would result in better living conditions for the remaining animals while reducing the strain on shelter resources.

Secondly, an increase in the adoption of shelter dogs could influence the supply-demand dynamics of the pet industry. If consumers choose adoption over purchasing from breeders, it might discourage unethical breeding practices, including those prevalent in puppy mills. This change would further contribute to enhancing animal welfare on a larger scale.

Finally, each adopted dog’s individual quality of life would likely see significant improvements. Home environments typically offer more space, personal attention, and stability than shelters. Adopted dogs receive consistent care, training, and socialization opportunities, leading to better physical health and behavioral outcomes. This transformation enriches the adopted dog’s life and can bring immeasurable joy and companionship to the family adopting.

“This rising trend of adoption not only promises a brighter future for shelter dogs but also signifies a broader cultural shift towards responsible pet ownership and empathy towards animal welfare,” adds Thompson. “The data certainly supports the trend, and it’s a trend that would have immense impact across the animal welfare field.”