couple looking at dogs at a shelter

Best Shelter Dogs to Adopt: Good Advice for New Owners

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So you want to adopt a dog.  Good on you! But, there are many factors which must first be considered. One of the most important factors is deciding which breed or mix is best for you. 

Certainly adopting a dog from a shelter is a wonderful way to give a loving home to a dog in need. However, with so many different types of dogs in shelters, it is often overwhelming to sort out the right one. This article will give you some insights into the best shelter dogs to adopt. We will explore some of the top picks for new owners and why those dogs may be a great fit for you.

What really are the best dogs to adopt for first time dog owners?

You should know that every dog is unique and has its own personality and needs. The fact is that some breeds are better-suited for adapting easily to new living situations. 

For example, Labrador Retrievers are friendly and outgoing family pets. Beagles are also a popular choice due to their small size and friendly nature. You can easily research purebred dogs and learn all about dogs at the American Kennel Club site.

Additionally, mixed breed (hybrid) dogs, like the Goldendoodle can be a good choice for a lovable and unique canine companion.  But, it’s important that you research mixed breeds before you commit to adoption. That way you will better understand your adopted dog’s temperament, adult size, and overall needs.

The bottom line is the best dog to adopt from a shelter is one that fits your lifestyle and personality. By considering factors such as adult size, energy level, personality, and temperament, you can find the perfect pooch for you. In the following sections, we will briefly discuss understanding the best shelter dogs to adopt and list some top picks.  Please read on to learn more.

Understanding Shelter Dogs

When you’re thinking about adopting a dog from a shelter, you need to understand all of the challenges that come with a shelter dog. In this section, we’ll explore some key dog behavior and health considerations you need to be aware of when selecting a shelter dog.

Behavioral Traits

Shelter dogs often display a range of behaviors that are related to their good and bad past experiences. For example, shelter dogs are sometimes fearful, anxious, or aggressive towards humans due to past neglect or abuse. This behavior may also result from being on the run, being caught, and being locked up with strange, barking dogs in a noisy rescue kennel.  

It is important to understand that learned behaviors are often a result of the dog’s previous environment and may not be their real nature.

When rescuing a shelter dog, it is important that you pay attention to their behavior and spend some time interacting with them. Why? Because this will give you a sense of their true nature. You should look for dogs that are friendly, curious, and responsive to human interaction. Be wary of dogs that are overly fearful or aggressive, because these dogs may be difficult to befriend without expensive, professional training.

Health Considerations

It is also important to understand that there might be potential health problems that affect a shelter dog. Depending on several factors, shelter dogs may not have received the regular veterinary care they may need. Such dogs sometimes have serious underlying health conditions that could have been missed or dismissed by the shelter staff. In other words, some dogs may simply have fallen through the cracks. You just don’t know until you ask!

So, before adopting a shelter dog, be sure to ask about the dog’s medical history and any ongoing health problems. Always look for dogs that have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and treated for common conditions like heartworm and fleas.

You should also be prepared for the potential costs that may come with a shelter dog’s health and care needs. Think about getting some quality pet insurance or setting aside a budget for unexpected medical expenses.

By understanding the unique behavioral and health considerations that come with adopting a shelter dog, you can make an informed decision and provide a loving home for a deserving dog.

Best Dog Breeds to Adopt from Shelters

If you’re looking to adopt a dog from a shelter, it can certainly be overwhelming to decide which breed to go with. 

Here are two of the most popular breeds to adopt from shelters:

Labrador Retriever

Certainly, Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds in the U.S. They are friendly, loyal, highly trainable, and great family dogs. They are also very smart and make excellent service dogs for all kinds of needs. 

While there are about 13 coat color variations of Labs, the main ones are Black Labs, Yellow Labs, Chocolate Labs, and White Labs. If you’re looking for a dog that will be an excellent companion and family pet, a Labrador Retriever might be the perfect breed for you.

labrador retriever dog with a lead in his mouth

Mixed Breed Dogs

Mixed breed dogs are often passed by in shelters, but they usually make wonderful pets. Often a combination of two or more breeds, they can have a variety of traits and personalities. Mixed breed dogs can be just as loyal and loving as purebred dogs. And, perhaps due to hybrid vigor (heterosis), they often have fewer health problems than purebreds. So, if you’re looking for a unique and loving companion, a mixed breed dog might be a good choice for you.

When choosing a dog to adopt from a shelter, it’s really important to consider your lifestyle and the dog’s personality. In other words, make sure you are a good fit!  

Make time to get to know the dog before adopting him or her. And, be sure to ask the shelter staff for helpful advice on training and care. With a little patience and knowledge, you can find the perfect dog to suit your wants and needs.

Factors to Consider When Adopting

If you are going to adopt a shelter dog, there are several things to keep in mind that will help you find the perfect dog you are looking for. 

Here are three key things to consider:

Family Dynamics

You must consider your family dynamics when adopting a dog, unless you are single and live alone.  In that case, you need to consider your own dynamics. Think about the age of your children and their ability to handle a dog. Also, think about any other pets your family has and how those pets will react to a new dog. It’s really important to select a dog that will fit in well with your family’s home and lifestyle.

Living Conditions

The living conditions of your home are very important factors to consider too. Think about the type and size of your home and the activity space you can provide a dog. For example, do you have a fenced yard? Is there a convenient dog-friendly park nearby? Do you live in an apartment? Do you live in a single-family home? Etc. Think clearly about it. After all, you may need to adopt a smaller dog if you live in a restrictive space, like an apartment. 

Activity Level

The daily hustle-bustle and activities in your household are also important things to think about before adopting a dog. If you have an active lifestyle, then you may want to adopt a dog that can keep up with your pace. On the other hand, if you live a more relaxed lifestyle, you may want to bring home a dog that is more laid back, that is, more of a couch potato or lap dog.

Remember, adopting a dog is a big responsibility so it’s important to pick a dog that fits your lifestyle and home situation. 

Post-Adoption Care

Congratulations on choosing to adopt a canine companion! Adopting a dog is a big responsibility, so it’s important to take care of your new dog properly from the get-go. 

Here are three care tips aimed at keeping your dog healthy and happy.

Health Care

Providing your dog with proper health care is critical for their happiness and well-being. 

  • Book a visit to your veterinarian for a dog check-up and vaccinations.
  • Do regular flea, tick, and heartworm prevention medications as per labels.
  • Always feed your dog a healthy diet and be sure there’s plenty of fresh water.
  • Regularly groom your dog to keep their coat healthy and clean.


Training your dog is vital for their safety, good habits, and your own peace of mind. 

  • Teach basic commands such as sit, stay, down, heel, and come.
  • Always use positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, during any training.
  • Be consistent with your training and firmly establish clear boundaries.
  • If your adopted dog is hard for you to train then consider obedience training.


Socializing your dog is important for their mental and emotional well-being. 

  • Allow your dog to nicely greet new people and any of your other pets.
  • Make sure your dog has positive interactions with other pets and people.
  • Take your dog on daily walks and go to the dog park as often as you can.
  • Enroll your dog in socialization and training classes as needed.

Remember, adopting a dog is a lifelong commitment. Providing proper care is key. Only you can make sure that your adopted dog will be a happy and healthy family member for many years.

Adopting a dog from a shelter is a wonderful way to add a new member to your family. It’s also saving a homeless dog’s life. There are so many dogs in shelters waiting for their salvation and loving forever homes. 

Every dog is unique and has its own personality and needs. The fact is that some breeds are better-suited for adopting easily as family pets.

Adopting a dog is a long-term commitment. And with proper planning, adopting a dog from a shelter can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for you and your new pooch. Remember that, while it’s important to carefully examine your lifestyle, wants, and needs, be sure to ask the shelter staff about the dog’s history and behavior before committing to dog adoption. 

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