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Dog Breeds Most Often Dumped

By Edited Jun 8, 2016 9 19

Which Breeds of Dog Are Most Often Given Up To Shelters?

Dogs are supposedly man's best friend. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and temperaments. There is no doubt a dog to suit everyone but sometimes the choice made over the breed of dog goes astray and the result in an unhappy owner and an equally unhappy dog. When this happens, dogs may be surrendered to a rescue centre in the hope that a more appropriate home will be found. Some breeds are given up in greater numbers than other breeds.

There can be many reasons for this. Breeds come in and out of fashion. While they are in fashion, some potential owners are blinded by what they think they want. They may not do the proper research or may turn a blind eye and deaf ear to traits that should alert them to take care in their choice. Some owners fail to realise how much it costs to keep a dog. Others find grooming and exercise takes more time than they are able to commit. In many cases, the owner is equally at fault as the dog. Inconsistent training (or no training at all), no socialisation, insufficient exercise and lack of stimulation will drive many breeds to display undesirable behaviours.

Research done in Australia listed ten breeds which are dumped most often. Some of these breeds are possibly reasonably common in rescue centres across the globe.

'Aggression' in the survey included being aggressive towards other dogs and animals, biting, and not getting on with children.


One of the main reasons dogs are dumped is because of their aggressive nature. In Australia, the Maltese (above), Maremma Sheepdog and Australian Cattle dog were the top three breeds which stood out as aggressive. For a small, fluffy, white dog to be labelled as aggressive would seem to indicate that breeders are perhaps not paying enough attention to disposition when making their choices of stud dogs.


The Maremma (pictured above) is not meant to be a house-dog but was bred to spend his days on his own in the paddocks keeping guard over flocks of sheep and goats. Like the Maremma, the Australian Cattle dog is a working dog. A certain amount of aggression is acceptable perhaps in these breeds. If working dogs are bored and don't have sufficient stimulation, owners can expect problems.

Maremmas and Irish Wolfhounds did not fare well in the survey but sample numbers were low and the statistics may not be a true record.

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Other breeds which exhibited aggressive tendencies included the fox terrier, Alaskan malamute, Rottweiler, Akita, Australian Silky terrier, Old English sheepdog, German Shepherd and Jack Russell terrier. Some of these dogs need lots of exercise; some were bred as working dogs. 'Aggression' in the survey included being aggressive towards other dogs and animals, biting, and not getting on with children.

Australian Silky Terrier

Again, it seems wrong that aggression should be linked with small dogs such as the Australian Silky terrier (above) and Jack Russell (also known as Parson's terrier). One of the reasons small dogs have behavioural problems is because misguided owners will persist in treating them like small members of the family instead of like dogs.

Small dog syndrome is well recognised and owners are doing their pets no favours by putting up with bad behaviour from their lapdogs. Handling and discipline should be firm and consistent and dogs should be well aware that their place in the family hierarchy is at the bottom of the ladder – probably even under the level of the cat!

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Another common reason for a dog being given up for adoption is because of excessive barking. Some breeds bark more than others. Some individual dogs bark almost incessantly. The Maremma and Bearded Collie came out tops as barkers but again the sample was small. Next in line was, again, the Maltese followed by the Shih Tzu, Basset hound, Australian cattle dog, English Springer spaniel, Pomeranian, bull mastiff, Australian silky terrier, Rottweiler and fox terrier.

West Highland White Terrier(106591)

If you want a small, fluffy, white dog, you should go for a West Highland White terrier (ab0ve). This breed was the least dumped followed by the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Hungarian Vizsla. Pugs, Airedale terriers, Welsh corgis, whippets, British bulldogs, Shetland sheepdogs, schnauzer and Bernese mountain dogs all made the 'least dumped' list.

Obviously there are hundreds and thousands of Maltese, Maremmas, etc whose owners love them dearly and have no problems with them. However if you are considering getting a dog, pay very close attention to the disposition of the parents (if you're buying a puppy and can view the parents). This applies whatever breed you are considering. There are good and bad dogs in all breeds. So be sure to pay attention to the temperament and don't be side-tracked by what's fashionable. Check out health issues as far as possible, particularly in those breeds subject to genetic disorders. And don't be swayed by small, white and fluffy!



Aug 14, 2012 6:07am
I remember when the TV show "Frasier" hit in the US, suddenly everyone and their brother had to have a Jack Russel terrier. And, they learned how high strung they are and shelters were suddenly swamped with Jack Russels after the novelty had worn off.

Great article, Judy, good rundown (I'd never given this issue any thought before). The Maremma is gorgeous and I could see why people would want them as pets, but as you noted it's in the dog's best interest not to be in the house. A thumb. (and congrats on another feature!)
Aug 14, 2012 6:21am
Great article!
A close friend of my works in rescue. The rescued dogs are either Pitbulls or Chihuahuas most of the time. It is really heartbreaking.
We had Rocker Spaniels
Aug 14, 2012 6:24am
...*Cocker Spaniels when I grew up and I think it was the best fit for our family.

Aug 14, 2012 7:00am
Thanks folks for the comments. And the thumb! I think some people just don't give any thought to what a dog's temperament might be like. If it's cute, they buy it. Or - for some people - if it's huge, they buy it!
Aug 15, 2012 7:41pm
I like your article - it raises valid points about dog ownership. It is a depressing fact that dogs get dumped at animal shelters because their owners don't want to look after them properly, or have little knowledge (if any) about the dog's breed and the behavior they can expect once they're out of 'cute puppy' stage. I have heard this happens a lot with huskies. I adopted a greyhound a few years ago, and have found this breed to have sound behavior and a quiet, polite nature. As with all dogs, how they behave partly comes from their owner's behavior 13 it is not all one-sided, ie just the dog to blame for being dumped. How a dog is treated - good or bad - has consequences over time. A trend I have also become aware of is the tendency for people to avoid adopting or buying a dog because it is black?!?!
Aug 15, 2012 9:02pm
Ever seen that bumper sticker that says "there are no bad breeds, just bad owners"? I completely agree with that. Many people don't have a clue what they are getting into with dog ownership and unfortunately, I was one of them. We have an extremely high need dog with anxiety issues resulting from her having been in three homes by age one. We didn't have a clue what we were getting into with her! Luckily we have the space and patience to work with her but with the wrong owners (i.e. the previous three!) she would have been a candidate for shelter drop-off. Great article!
Aug 15, 2012 9:41pm
Wordspeller - thanks for the comment. I hadn't heard about the black dogs. My father bred paint horses when I was young and there was a lot of prejudice against them at the time. Now they're totally accepted. The other things that gets me is breeding dogs smaller and smaller. Mostly this seem to result in dogs that are more and more genetically unsound. It seems mankind always has to interfere with nature.

migreig - you're perfectly right - only bad owners. It's great that your dog has found a home with you. Glad you enjoyed the article.
Aug 17, 2012 6:21pm
It just cannot be overemphasized that people need to do their homework before they decide on the right breed for them. The tiny cute white fluffy Maltese is a Terrier with all that the name implies. They were bred to go one on one with rats and other tough vermin so they needed to be tough to survive. The development of the beauty queen aspect of Maltese is a recent development in response to show fads, and the changes are only on the surface. People need to know what breeds were bred to do, what personality traits are necessary to for them to be successful in that job, and whether those traits are something they can live with. Training is vital, of course, but training modifies behavior, not temperament. Temperament is there to stay.Sorry, you got me on my soap box. I used to get so tired of seeing 90 pound girls coming into my obedience classes with out of control unneutered male Dalmatians because they saw the Disney cartoon and they had no clue what a high drive breed they really are. Great article, needed to be written!
Aug 21, 2012 4:58am
Hi dixieburk. Sorry to be so long responding to your comment. I'm really pleased that my article inspired someone to get on their soapbox. I think that's really great. I'll try to do it again!!

Your comments are spot on, of course. But sometimes people just don't want to know, do they?
Dec 29, 2012 12:20am
Great article and lot you say people never use their head when buying a dog. I wrote an article last year about not buying a pet for Christmas or Birthday presents. Too many people thoughtlessly by a dog for someone because they like them. They should never buy anyone a pet without asking if they can care for it. Or if the person is old they sure do not want an excitable small dog tripping them up if they are old.
All dogs need exercise and care they do not want to be used as a convenience or a toy.
Jan 4, 2013 5:31pm
Hi Eileen. Sorry for the delay in replying but your comments are all spot on. It really is a dog's life for some dogs, isn't it?
Jan 27, 2013 12:49pm
My grandma used to have a Pomeranian, and she barked a LOT. I live with my other grandma now, and our neighbor has THREE of them, and my bedroom is only a couple dozen feet from their back yard! When they're outside, they yip and yap incessantly! I'm pretty sure they're violating some noise ordinance or something, because I can even hear them barking when I'm listening to music at the loudest volume I can tolerate!
Jan 27, 2013 2:20pm
Thanks for the comment matzo3. And welcome to Infobarrel. I look forward to reading some of your articles soon.

It can certainly get annoying living next to a noisy dog - or dogs! In Australia, you can certainly complain about them but it doesn't make for a good relationship with the neighbours.
Mar 28, 2013 9:04pm
I enjoyed reading this. We have one of the dogs that are often dumped off.Ours is a well behaved dogs. I guess each dog also has a different personality, just some are more prone to aggression etc.
Apr 1, 2013 5:00pm
I think much of the problem stems from dogs not being raised or trained in the right manner. Some dogs are spoilt rotten and have no respect for anything.

Someone said once 'there are no bad dogs, only bad owners' which has some truth. But you're right, the personality differs such as some people are grumpy and others always happy. Thanks for commenting.
May 11, 2013 3:22am
"One of the reasons small dogs have behavioural problems is because misguided owners will persist in treating them like small members of the family instead of like dogs." this is so true. I've people take offence at me when I say that dogs are dogs, not people. And really agree with Cesar that often the owners are the problem, not the dog. I have a mini dachshund that doesn't seem to be on your list :)
May 11, 2013 4:08pm
Thanks for the comment trufflehunter. I'm pleased your mini dachshund isn't on the list!

I'm sure there are plenty of well-behaved dogs of the 'dumped' breeds but they are probably involved in what the breed should be doing (as in working dogs) or have sensible owners.
May 29, 2013 9:41am
It is sad there are so many misplaced dogs due to insufficient preparation on the owner's part ;/. Our dog is a westie. We absolutely love her. But she has specific house rules (such as staying out of the kitchen when someone is in there) and a command structure (sit, down, off, crate, come, toy etc.), so doesn't get away with everything. I think the gentle, yet firm way she has been raised really adds to her sweet temperament. Terriers think they are lions though--there is no getting around that :).
May 29, 2013 6:19pm
Being a 'mini-lion' seems to be built into small dogs. I had a Shetland once who was boss of all the bigger horses. She'd just swagger in and the rest would turn tail. I think Westies are great. Thanks for commenting.
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