Which dogs are last likely to be adopted

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black cat
Black Cat

Some homeless pets are adopted quickly. Others wait a long time for their new forever homes. What makes some pets more or less adoptable? As it turns out, the answer is not simple.

A number of studies have been conducted in the last decade on the topic. For example, researchers looked at shelter intake and adoption records to see just how long black dogs were waiting for their forever homes compared to their other-colored shelter neighbors. The results of the more recent studies have shed some light on the idea that black dogs are adopted last.

This leads us to the question, which animals are adopted last, and which animals should adopters consider first so they are not adopted last? Below are some of the animals that typically get adopted last, and need some extra love.

  • 01 of 06

    Black Dogs

    Black dog
    Senior Great Dane

    Even though coat color does not seem to be a primary factor that causes longer stays for dogs in shelters and rescue groups, you still might see higher numbers of black dogs in shelters and rescues. Black is a dominant coat color, which means statistically, there are more black dogs than non-black dogs in the world. If four black dogs and two white dogs end up in an animal shelter, and four dogs are adopted (two white and two black), you’re left with two black dogs—and the perception that black dogs are harder to adopt, despite the fact that two black dogs were just adopted.

    Because there are simply more black dogs, making an effort to adopt a black dog can help move black dogs out of shelters and rescues and into forever homes more quickly.

  • 02 of 06

    Black Cats

    Black cat
    Senior Great Dane

    It seems that “black cat syndrome” could be a reality. In a study called “An Evaluation of the Role the Internet Site Petfinder Plays in Cat Adoptions” showed that an adoption bias might exist when it comes to black cats. In their study, which was published in 2015 in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, Drs. Workman and Hoffman analyzed click statistics for cat adoption profiles online. In this study, black cats were clicked on the least, suggesting that black cats do in fact have a harder time being adopted than cats of other colors.

    Black cats may indeed suffer from color bias when it comes to adoption, so they need your help. Consider bringing home your own black panther in miniature.

  • 03 of 06

    Older Dogs and Cats

    Senior Great Dane
    Senior Great Dane

    Puppies and kittens are highly adoptable. In many cases, healthy, adorable puppies and kittens will almost always find homes. Senior pets and even those that are only a few years old typically languish in shelters because people want a younger pet. But there are many advantages to adopting an older dog or cat. You are typically past the potty-training stage (some rescue pets might need a refresher) and what you see is what you get. An adult dog or cat has already gown to its full size, has its adult hair coat and has a fully developed personality. Additionally, adult pets’ activity levels are often fully apparent. With puppies especially, it can be very hard to guess what they will grow up to look and act like.

    Don’t overlook sweet and easy senior dogs and cats. They will be forever grateful for being chosen and reward you with endless love.

  • 04 of 06

    Certain Breeds

    Pit bull dog
    Pit Bull Dog

    According to a 2015 study published in Animal Welfare, pit bull type dogs (including American Bulldogs, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and mixes of these breeds) stayed in the shelters two-and-a-half to three times longer than the average dog. Additionally, it has long been known that older dogs have a harder time getting adopted than puppies. Pit bull type breeds tend to have longer stays in shelters and rescues, and also are at high risk for being euthanized. This is likely due to negative public perception of pit bull type dogs (which many pit bull lovers argue is unfair and undeserved), and also because there simply are a lot of homeless pit bulls and pit bull mixes, especially in certain parts of the United States.

    Some regions also see breed over-saturation, which can lead to more of those dogs being adopted last. For instance, in California you often see a lot of homeless Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes. Because they seem to be “a dime a dozen,” people might gravitate to a less common breed or mix. Similarly, some regions might have lots of big dogs and few little dogs, or vice versa.

    If you notice an overabundance of certain breeds or breed mixes in your local animal shelters and rescue groups, make it a point to adopt one.

  • 05 of 06

    Pets With Special Needs

    Pug wheelchair
    Pug Wheelchair

    People often overlook pets with disabilities or medical conditions, such as three-legged dogs, blind or deaf animals, or cats with diabetes. But special needs dogs and cats often make wonderful pets, and they can suffer the most in a shelter environment. Special needs pets might not need as much extra care as you might think. Some rescues and shelters will even help out with medical expenses and offer other resources to help manage the pet's condition. If you see a special needs dog or cat amiable for adoption, don't skip to the next pet—inquire with the organization to see what adopting that pet would entail.

  • 06 of 06


    A mixed breed dog
    A Mixed Breed Dog

    Lots of people have their heart set on a certain breed, and certainly breed-specific rescue groups abound, with special organizations offering adoptions for every breed you can think of. This can sometimes leave the run-of-the-mill mutt out of the spotlight. The next time you're looking to adopt, consider choosing a mutt. Mixed breed dogs with very diverse backgrounds are not only adorable and one of a kind, but true mutts are often healthier than their purebred cousins thanks to a genetic phenomenon known as hybrid vigor.