Study Shows That Breed Labels Unfairly Affect Dog Adoptions, So This Shelter Removed Them All

Does naming a dog’s breed affect a homeless dog’s chances of being adopted? The answer is “yes” if the dog is a Pit Bull, says a recent study at Arizona State University. As result of the study’s findings, the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA is removing breed labels in an effort to find their Pit Bulls homes more quickly.


Photo credit: AAWL

The university study entitled, “What’s in a Name? Effect of Breed Perceptions & Labeling on Attractiveness, Adoptions & Length of Stay for Pit-Bull-Type Dogs,” revealed that breed labels led to potential adopters making premature judgments about a dog.

Researchers compared dogs that looked identical and labeled them differently. The study noted that dogs labeled as breeds with positive reputations (like Border Collies) got adopted at a much faster rate than dogs presented as Pit Bulls.


Photo credit: AAWL

“Dogs that were labeled as pit-bulls [for example] were staying at the shelter longer,” Michael Morefield of the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA told KTAR News. “While the dog that looked just like them was labeled as a Border Collie or a Saint Bernard was getting adopted in almost one-third the time.”


Photo credit: AAWL

So, the no-kill shelter has decided to replace breed names with more information about the dog’s temperament, personality and background information (if they have it).


Photo credit: KTAR

It has just started the pilot program, so the results aren’t in just yet, but it would be great if it encourages people to look at a dog more for their personality than their looks!


Photo credit: AAWL

This is not the first time this notion of a dog’s breed has been seen as affecting adoptability.

A Costa Rican animal shelter ran an unusual campaign where they gave their mutts “Unique Breed” lineage such as Fire-tailed Bordercockers, Shaggy Shepherd Dachspaniels, Furrychest Jack Beagle Terriers, Eye-patched Australian Dalmapointers. The program was quite successful and saw adoptions at the shelter increase!

It’s great seeing shelters such as Arizona Animal Welfare League trying new ways to get dogs that might normally be overlooked, noticed!

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