More detailed data on shelter & rescue dogs than ever before
Yes, large retrievers including Labradors and goldens are still the most popular dogs in U.S. homes; yes, pit bulls are still the second most numerous dogs in the U.S., counting dogs in custody of shelters and rescues, still bred at a rate of almost double any actual demand; and yes, hounds are still in third place in both abundance and popularity.
The thirteenth annual, and sixteenth ANIMALS 24-7 survey of the U.S. dog population overall, based on dogs offered for sale or adoption, has been compiled from three days of crunching the data on more than 1.1 million dogs available for acquisition over the weekend of June 25-26, 2022.
84% of dogs are from breeders, 16% from shelters & “rescues”
Included in the sample base were 941,458 dogs offered for sale by breeders, 84% of the total dogs available, and 181,007 offered for adoption (16%) by animal shelters and shelterless “rescues.”
As every year, ANIMALS 24-7 timed our 2022 survey to try to catch the peak of the “dog acquisition” season, when most of the puppies born within the year are on the market and shelters and rescues are near the peak of “puppy and kitten season,” when the most animals are offered for adoption.
Our findings, as in most years, confirm a distinct and widening gap among dog breed numbers, breeds available from shelters and rescues, and the numbers of dogs, by breed, who are succeeding in homes.
The ANIMALS 24-7 survey from each individual year, taken alone, would tend to show the fad breeds of the year as most popular. Dog breeds winning top honors at the American Kennel Club’s annual Westminster Dog Show, featured in popular films and television shows, and favored by top celebrities typically surge in numbers produced and offered for sale by breeders, and then a year or two later surge in numbers available for adoption from shelters and “rescues”; but these surges are rarely indicative of any real change in the overall U.S. dog population.
Overall, breed popularity has changed remarkably little since 1900-1950, a 50-year time span for which ANIMALS 24-7 extensively surveyed newspaper classified ad data.
ANIMALS 24-7 also used newspaper classified ads to compile our data for the 1970-1979 and 1980-1989 time frames.
Our surveys from 2010 to date are all based on web searches; but the change in methodology has produced remarkably consistent findings when the information is averaged over any given span of 10 to fifteen years, roughly equivalent to a dog’s typical lifespan.
The current ANIMALS 24-7 averages suggest that while exact numbers and rankings vary, all but two of the breeds and breed types listed on the first page of our chart Dog breeds 2022 were also among the 20 most popular in 1900-1950, as were about half of the breeds and breed types listed on the second page of Dog breeds 2022.
Only the two categories “pit bull class” and “other bullies” have moved up since 1900-1950 from the “negligible” category, 1% or fewer of all dogs available, into the top ten in availability as measured over 10 years or more.
Critical to realize is that any dog breed or type consistently accounting for 1% or more of the total dog population is likely to become a “top 10” breed in any given year, because the total dog population, 100%, is divided among more than 150 recognized breeds.
Large retrievers vs. pit bulls
As of the end of June 2022, about 7.3% of the U.S. dog population are large retrievers, currently the most popular breed category. This percentage is likely to increase, because large retrievers, for the third consecutive year, are the dogs offered by breeders in greatest abundance.
Further, at 14% of the dogs currently offered for sale by breeders, large retrievers constitute a higher percentage of all the dogs offered for sale than any breed, ever.
Only large retrievers, in 2014, and all northern breeds combined, in 2010, ever before reached 10% of all the dogs offered for sale in any given year.
But pit bulls offered for sale have in 2022 also reached a new high, at 10.7% of all the dogs available other than for adoption from a shelter or “rescue.”
10.7% does not go into 5.8%, with a surplus already in animal shelters & “rescues”
Especially conspicuous is that both large retrievers and pit bulls are offered for sale at a rate nearly twice as high as their numbers in homes.
The prognosis for the current surplus of large retrievers is relatively good, because large retrievers are still not over-represented in availability from shelters and rescues.
In fact, large retrievers still constitute exactly the same percentage of dogs available from shelters and “rescues” as in the dog population as a whole.
The prognosis is very different for pit bulls.
Pit bulls, now at 5.8% of the total U.S. dog population, are still close to their all-time high in abundance, but there is no indication that there will be anywhere near enough homes available to absorb the gap between availability and abundance.
This is because pit bulls have already been bred and offered for sale in numbers far exceeding actual demand for purchase for more than 30 years.
The 18 breeds most common in shelters & rescues
ANIMALS 24-7 crunched nearly twice as many numbers as ever before in 2022 to determine the 18 dog breeds and breed types most available from animal shelters and “rescues,” meaning all of those constituting 1% or more of the dogs offered for adoption.
ANIMALS 24-7 then compared the numbers of each breed or breed type available for adoption on the weekend of June 25-26, 2022 with their overall numbers in the U.S. dog population.
Not surprisingly, pit bulls constituted either 47% or 49% of all of the dogs offered for adoption, depending on how one handles rounding off the percentages of pit bull subtypes, e.g. Staffordshire, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Bully, and many more.
Either way, this came to 1.7% of the total pit bull population, or close to one in 50––and this is only counting shelter and “rescue” pit bulls who are offered for adoption, not those believed to be in “permanent” foster and sanctuary situations.
By comparison, only two Labrador retrievers in a thousand appeared to be in shelter or “rescue” custody.
“Mixed breeds,” chow chows, & greyhounds
Among the 18 breeds and breed types most likely to be found in shelters, only otherwise unidentified “mixed breeds,” many of them also part pit bull, chow chows, and greyhounds topped 1% of the dogs available, with pointers, all types combined, just barely reaching 1%.
A whopping 95% of dogs described as “mixed breeds” offered for sale or adoption were offered for adoption from shelters. This should be no surprise, however, since breeders are not generally in the business of producing “mixed breed” pups.
What was a surprise was that 5% of the acknowledged “mixed breed” pups offered by breeders were “mixed breeds,” albeit apparently small “mixed breeds” of the sort otherwise described as “designer dogs.”
That 42% of the greyhounds offered for sale or adoption were greyhounds was also not surprising. Breeders produce greyhounds almost entirely to be raced. Greyhounds offered for adoption are almost entirely acquired from tracks by shelters, “rescuers,” and the greyhound racing industry adoption program.
As greyhound racing is now legal only in West Virginia, both the numbers of greyhounds bred and the numbers available for adoption are likely to plummet within the next year.
That 2.9% of the U.S. chow chow population are in shelters or with rescues available for adoption is yet another predictable finding, in view of their long-established reputation for biting––albeit that relatively few chow chow bites are fatal or disfiguring. The eight chow chow-inflicted fatalities in the U.S. and Canada over the past 40 years puts the breed in a far distant twelfth place among all breeds, well behind the 576 inflicted by pit bulls and 117 inflicted by Rottweilers.