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What we discovered from counting 1,122,465 dogs over the weekend

2022 Dog breed census (Beth Clifton collage)

More detailed data on shelter & rescue dogs than ever before

Yes, large retrievers including Labradors and goldens are still the most popular dogs in US homes; yes, pit bulls are still the second most numerous dogs in the US, counting dogs in custody of shelters and rescues, still bred at a rate of almost double any current 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 US 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.

(Beth Clifton collage)

large retrievers vs. pit bulls

As of the end of June 2022, about 7.3% of the US 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 reaching 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.”

Pit bull assembly line. (Beth Clifton collage)

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 US 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.

Dog breeds offered for adoption, 2022

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 US 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, eg 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.

chow chow (Beth Clifton collage)

“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 bulls, 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.

Merritt, Teddy, & Beth Clifton.

That 2.9% of the US 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 US 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.

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