How to choose a puppy from a shelter

How To Choose A Puppy From A Shelter

Adopting a puppy from a shelter is more than just giving a dog a home – it could actually save a dog’s life.

In fact, in the USA, around five million dogs are euthanized in American dog shelters every year because a new home has not been found.

So, if buying a puppy from a breeder is not for you, adopting a dog from a shelter could be the next best thing.

So let’s look at how to choose a puppy from a shelter.

Is adopting a puppy from a shelter right for you?

The first thing to consider before visiting a dog shelter is whether taking on a rescue puppy is right for you.

While adopting a dog is very noble, it’s not without challenges, such as dealing with behavioural and emotional problems. This can lead to difficulties in training or trust issues with strangers.

As a result, adopting a puppy requires a lot of time, effort and patience. Make sure you have lots of love to give and the ability to cope with a rescue dog before diving in.

After all, the last thing a rescue puppy needs is to be abandoned again if it’s not right for you.

Before going to a shelter

The next step is to think about what type of dog you would like and how a puppy will fit in with your lifestyle, family and home.

To get started, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you have a garden? If not, then a large dog might not be a good idea.

Do you work from home? Will you be around to keep the dog company? Leaving a dog alone at home all day is not recommended.

Do you have children? Can they help you with caring for a puppy? Adopting a dog can be a lot of work but having support from the family can make it fun.

Do you want to go for long walks with a dog? If so, then don’t even think about getting breed like a Pug that doesn’t like to exercise very much.

What to look for in a rescue dog

Here’s what to look for when visiting a dog shelter:

  • Dogs that come to you without being coaxed and seem excited to see you.
  • Soft body language, not stiff and rigid.
  • The option to meet a dog outside of the kennel.
  • The opportunity to try walking him or her around the grounds of the shelter.

Finally, if you have children take them with you to the shelter to see how your potential new pooch reacts around kids.

Common issues with rescue dogs

Although adopting a puppy is a wonderful thing to do, there are common problems that can occur in dogs that have been abused or abandoned.


Some rescue dogs don’t know how to act around other dogs because they missed out on social interaction as a young puppy. This often means they need extra training to become comfortable with other dogs and reduce their aggression.

Fear of people

If a puppy has been abused by an owner, it’s common for them to be scared of people. However, most dogs learn to trust again with time and go on to be loving, friendly dogs.


Rescue dogs can be nervous creatures who are easily spooked by loud noises, cars and bikes. This can happen after a dog has been locked up or left alone in a dark room. It can take time for them for recover, which requires a patient owner.

Separation anxiety

Anxiety issues are common in rescue dogs that have been mistreated or abandoned. These dogs are best suited to people that spend a lot of time at home and will be around to keep him or her company.

What are the most common breeds in dog shelters?

Rescue centres tend to attract certain types of breeds, usually due to over-breeding or behavioural issues.

Here are the most common dog breeds found in shelters and why you should choose them.

Pit Bull

Pit Bulls have a reputation for being dangerous and regularly end up being abused and abandoned. However, Pit Bulls are also known for being patient and well-behaved around children, as well as receptive to training.

German Shepherd

This is a very popular large dog breed that is loyal, smart and easy to train. Unfortunately, overbreeding is a problem, which is why many German Shepherds are in rescue shelters.

Labrador Retriever

According to the American Kennel Club, Labrador Retrievers are America’s most popular dog. This means there are loads of breeders out there leading to over-supply.


Boxers have a lot of energy and can be excitable, which can be too much to handle for some owners. But if you are looking for a work out partner, then this is the breed to choose.


These tiny dogs are loved by people around the world, but Chihuahuas can be nervous and bark at strangers, which can be a problem. The upside is Chihuahuas are loyal and good family pets, especially for people in smaller homes due to their diminutive size.


Also known as “wiener dogs”, the Dachshund was originally bred in Germany to hunt badgers. This is why they are small and stubborn. But Dachshunds are also clever, loyal and like to cuddle.

So, hopefully after reading this article you are now fully educated on how to choose a puppy from a shelter. For more information on finding your new puppy you way want to read;

How to choose a puppy from a breeder for an alternative to rescuing a puppy from a shelter.

Hayley Maguire

Hayley Maguire

Hayley Maguire is the chief author and content curator at Puppy Care Central. A dog lover herself, Hayley is passionate and dedicated to bringing you all the latest quality, helpful information available to support you on your puppy journey. Her focus is to make sure your furry family member gets the best start in life possible.
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