Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
Have you ever visited the dog shelter looking for an Afghan hound or a Maltese? The slacker breeds just can’t be found. You will find a lot of Chihuahuas, a lot of Labradors, and almost everything else you’ll see in there is a Labrador mix.
Why Are There So Many Chihuahuas at Shelters?
One site states that Chihuahuas make up 30% of the dog population in California animal shelters. Some shelters have so many of them that they ship them to other locations. Where the small dogs have more of a chance to find homes. Why do these two breeds dominate the shelters?
Part of the problem is with the Chihuahua breed. People see advertisements using Chihuahuas or see Chihuahuas in movies. And they want to buy them because they are cute little dogs. They expect perfect little apartment residents and do not treat them like dogs. They allow them to run around the house and take over the furniture. Before long, the dogs become aggressive. When the little Chihuahua bites their child in the face, they decide that it has gone too far and taken it into the animal shelter. Of course, most of them do not admit that the dog is a biter. So the new owner brings home a potential problem dog.
They think they will make a little money off of their dogs
Many of the Chihuahuas surrendered to animal shelters have never been housetrained. When they come from a puppy mill and are raised in fecal material, even normal instincts are lost, and these dogs are hard to train. Some had a good start in life but were just purchased by families without a clue.
The backyard breeders are a significant source of the Chihuahua problem at the animal shelters. They think they will make a little money off of their dogs after seeing reality stars and pop divas carry around the tiny dogs. (People who believe those photos are cute do not realize that those stars have employees to clean up after their dogs.) They breed whatever male and female they have around and end up with a bunch of deformed puppies they cannot sell. The only thing to do with the production problem is to dump it off at the shelter.
Labrador Retrievers (and Lab Crosses)
When visiting the shelter, the other breed that everyone notices is the Labrador Retriever. One source states that over 25% of all dogs coming into shelters are purebred, many of whom are registered Labs. Any dog with Lab features is listed as a Lab cross, and since Labs have become well-known as family dogs, they are overbred. And their progeny are filling up the kennels at the animal shelters.
The worst is the Black Lab
If his cross-bred puppies have the misfortune to be born black, it will be even harder on them. If the team member receiving the dog happens to markdown “Rottweiler cross” or “GSD cross,” the adoption process will be much more difficult. Many shelters will not even accept “Pit Bull cross,”. So the savvy owner will tell the team member it is a Lab cross when dropping the puppies off.
How to Help Out Animal Shelters
Is there any way to decrease the number of these dogs at the animal shelters? There are not many. As long as reality stars like to carry tiny dogs around in their purses, the TV-watching public will want to buy little Chihuahuas, and the shelters will end up with rejected puppies, adolescents who can’t be housetrained, and adults who become aggressive or just obnoxious.
Movies come out starring Labrador Retriever sidekicks, and sites ramble on about what great family dogs they are. People breed, buy, and no one bothers to neuter or spay these dogs, so even more of their puppies end up without a home. When family circumstances change, the adults get dumped at the animal shelter too. The chances of a dog like that finding a home are slim.
So how can you help?
- You can donate to your local animal shelter and earmark that money for a spay or neuter. I have not included a link here since this is best done through a local organization and not through a national group where much of the money is lost by paying for expenses. If you can do this, take a moment to find the phone number for your local shelter and give them a call.
- You can refuse to purchase from a backyard breeder the next time you search for a dog. If these people knew no one would call when they listed their puppies in the newspaper. They would be much more likely to spay and neuter their pets.
- It would help if you considered looking at the Chihuahuas, Labradors, and other dogs at your local animal shelter. Especially if you do not have a specific requirement, such as a dog that does not shed (much).
- Volunteer. This will not do anything about the Labs and Chihuahuas, but you can make a big difference if you are willing to help at your local shelter.