Yes, You Can Find Purebred Dogs at Shelters and Rescues

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The number one obstacle I’ve identified to people adopting shelter dogs is their completely valid desire of wanting a purebred dog. In my current and previous capacities as a shelter or rescue group volunteer, I’ve never seen it as my position to convince people they should want a shelter or rescued dog. It is something they have to be open to. However, as an advocate for homeless pets, I do try to help educate people as to why their reasons for a wanting a purebred dog should not preclude them from considering adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue. After all, you can find perfectly healthy, happy purebred dogs at a shelter or with a purebred rescue organization.

There are obvious limitations though. Because shelters, and even purebred rescues, cannot completely verify their dogs are purebred, some people prematurely eliminate this option. Most organizations are making the “purebred” determination based on two pieces of information: documentation supplied by a surrendering owner (which rarely happens!), or a visual determination based on physical traits that align with generally accepted kennel club breed standards. Because most shelters and rescues are upfront about their inability to be 100-percent positive about the genetic heritage of their adoptables, it’s tough for them to compete with the less transparent breeding industry. Unless you are buying from a very reputable breeder in good standing with a legitimate kennel club, your local pet store or everyday breeder listed in your newspaper or on Craigslist may be going on similar pieces of information while marketing their purebred dogs.

Most buyers also tend to want something tangible to prove a dog is a purebred. Some consumers get overly hung up on having “papers” for their dog. What may surprise paper-enthusiasts though is this: unless you are buying from a seriously legitimate kennel-club registered breeder, the oh-so-coveted papers you may get is really paperwork that can be generated by anyone with a computer. It guarantees nothing about the quality of the dog being purchased. Not health. Not sound temperament. Not breed. No guarantees at all.

The best way to overcome these information deficits is to share an amazing little secret: you can get a purebred dog from a shelter or rescue! There is a purebred rescue for every breed of dog. Even the Laggoto Romagnolo. Never heard of this truffle-hunting breed, right? I’m telling you, there is a rescue for every breed.

Another great benefit of adopting a pet from a rescue group is these groups know their dogs. Most are foster-home based organizations, which mean the dog lives with a host family that likely knows everything there is to know about your future family member. You know who you are going home with which naturally makes the process of adding your new dog into your daily routine easier.

Further, the National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy reports that 25-percent of pets in shelters are purebred. That’s a lot of coveted purebred pets that are not meeting their forever families because of preconceived notions about what buying a purebred pet guarantees. Adopting from a shelter or rescue almost always comes with stellar perks that you will rarely get from a pet retailer or breeder, such as shots and basic up-front veterinary care, behavioral and training support (which is always awesome if you’re adopting a younger dog or puppy), and a network of assistance in the event something unexpected pops up, like an unforeseeable health issue. This level of service is a 180 from your typical pet store or breeder, which will rarely care about the future of your pet after they take your money.

Want to try out my theory? is a great, simple way to search for adoptable dogs by breed. A quick search in my neck of the woods for “Great Dane” turns up over 1,200 matches. A quick browse points me to Bella who looks exactly like my ideal Great Dane.

Being in the market for a purebred dog should not stop you from checking out your local shelter or rescue group. Give it a try!

Need help finding a purebred adoptable dog in your area? Tweet me for help!

Jessi Freud is a dog advocate who has been volunteering with rescues and shelters for nearly 10 years. Most recently, she was a volunteer news writer for Best Friends Animal Society and an active volunteer with Texas-based shelter Austin Pets Alive! Currently, Jessi is attending law school where she is a member of her school’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter. Follow her on Twitter.

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