dog training based on genetics

Should I Get A Rescue Dog?

Sad dog in a cage

“Why buy while those in shelters die?”

This mantra from rescue organizations has authentic appeal. Like me, if you’re someone with a soft spot for dogs, the idea of dogs isolated in a cage 24-7 tugs on your heartstrings pretty hard.

Every year in the US, people surrender 3.3 million dogs to animal shelters. Adopting one of these dogs can be an incredibly rewarding and positive experience. Unfortunately, shelter dogs can also present some unique challenges for owners, so it’s essential to know the facts before starting the process of rescuing a dog.

Rescue and shelter dogs are a crapshoot. All dogs are individuals, and every shelter facility is different. Most shelters use behavior tests to pre-screen dogs for adoption to help ensure good welfare and quality of life after adoption. Still, there is very little scientific evidence to support the results of the tests and no formality or standardization to the tests themselves.

Recently, researchers in the UK, Netherlands, and the US conducted an extensive survey of organizations’ pre-adoption dog behavior screenings and compared this with the available scientific evidence. Most organizations used a pass/fail scoring system to identify dogs as unadoptable. Researchers identified seventy-one factors in these screenings. Ten factors consistently lead to dogs being deemed unadoptable;

  • Aggression towards people
  • Aggression towards cats or other animals
  • Aggression towards dogs
  • Biting or snapping
  • Resource guarding
  • Activity level or exercise needs
  • Destructiveness
  • Housetrained
  • Fearfulness
  • Knowledge of basic commands

These factors, backed by scientific evidence, should carry the most weight in your
decision to adopt or not. At, we focus on pre-adoption adopter education
and post-adoption support. Let us help you evaluate your dog before you adopt.

Click here to read the research from the United Kingdom: