Breed labeling in shelters — does it work?

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Breed labeling in shelters

Breed labeling in shelters can do more harm than good, according to a recent study.

Adopting a dog? Behavior matters more than breed when selecting your new family member, according to a recent study published in PLOS One. Shelter workers aren’t always correct when it comes to breed labeling, so selecting a dog based on this factor alone can be misleading. Furthermore, many shelter dogs are a cross of multiple breeds, which makes them genetically complex and unique. “Even if you know the breeds by DNA, it’s not really going to tell you what you want to know,” says researcher Clive Wynne.

The study revealed that shelter staff were accurate only 67% of the time when labeling breeds, suggesting that breed labels should be dropped altogether at shelters. This form of stereotyping can be detrimental for certain breeds like pit bulls, who have a long history of being judged based on their DNA alone. Another study published in the same journal revealed that pit bulls and pit bull mixes in a San Diego shelter waited more than three times as long as other breeds to find forever homes.