Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
Have you ever gone to the dog shelter looking for an Afghan hound or a Maltese? The slacker breeds just can't be found. What you will find are a lot of Chihuahuas, a lot of Labradors, and almost everything else you'll see in there is a Labrador mix. 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 want to buy them because they are cute little dogs. They expect perfect little apartment residents and do not treat them like dogs, allowing 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 take it into the animal shelter. Of course, most of them do not admit that the dog is a biter, so the new owner takes home a potential problem dog.
Many of the Chihuahuas surrendered to animal shelters have never been house-trained. When they come from a puppy mill and were raised in fecal material, even normal instincts are lost and these dogs are hard to train. Some of them had a good start in life but were just purchased by families without a clue.
A big source of the Chihuahua problem at the animal shelters are the backyard breeders. They think they are going to make a little money off of their dogs after having seen reality stars and pop divas carry around the tiny dogs. (The people that think 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 happen to have around and end up with a bunch of deformed puppies they are unable to sell. The only thing to do with the production problem is to dump it off at the shelter.
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, and many of these 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 is going to be even harder on them. If the employee receiving the dog happens to markdown “Rottweiler cross” or “GSD cross,” the adoption process will be that much more difficult. A lot of shelters will not even accept “Pit Bull cross,” so the savvy owner will just tell the employee 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 the reject puppies, the adolescents who can´t be housetrained, and the 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, people 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 make a donation 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 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 are searching for a dog. If these people knew no one would call when they listed their puppies in the newspaper, they would be a lot more likely to spay and neuter their pets.
- You should consider 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 is not going to do anything about the Labs and Chihuahuas, but you can make a big difference if you are willing to help out at your local shelter.
So if you go down to pick up a mixed breed dog at your local shelter, be sure to keep your eye open for an older Chihuahua or a Lab cross. The Chihuahua will only need to be taught that it needs to behave like a dog. It has most likely been spoiled and given few or no boundaries. Set up some dog rules, give your little Chihuahua some obedience training, and almost all of them can be housetrained and make good pets.
Do you get nervous hearing shrill barking and need a larger dog? There are a lot of benefits to a Lab cross. Purebred Labrador Retrievers suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, cataracts, retinal and other eye diseases, as well as numerous behavioral diseases. A cross-bred dog is a lot less likely to have health problems and will be a great pet. Puppies get snatched up almost as soon as they are brought in, but if you are willing to adopt an older dog you will be making even more of a difference; a lot of times those types never find a home.
Make your choice. A cage full of Chihuahuas and a kennel of Labradors are waiting.
Rrr on April 25, 2018:
They are so cute. P.S thank you for being helpful
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 15, 2012:
Thanks Suhail I think of you as one of those with a specific requirement (your Kuvasz) so I am glad you read this.
Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on July 15, 2012:
Discouraging backyard breeders and owner education are two things I would suggest to reduce the risk of disowning a pet. It is imperative that people looking to get a dog as a pet do research to find one that matches with their lifestyle. I know of a close friend's family who got a kitten as an impulsive decision and despite our encouragement to continue with her, left it at a local shelter only after two months.
This is an awesome hub and I am taking lot of stuff from here as a take-away.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 15, 2012:
Thanks for the comment Helena. People can be odd.
Helena Ricketts from Indiana on July 14, 2012:
I adopted a black lab mix (he was also part Chow) 20 years ago and another black lab mix 18 years ago and both of those dogs were wonderful. Unfortunately they have both since passed away but I'll always remember Jordan and Jenny. Not one time have I ever purchased a dog. It feeds the problems that we have today with overpopulation. That's shocking about people not liking black dogs but people can be odd!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 14, 2012:
I do not think I have ever heard a good answer to that. Maybe they just don't show up as well when people visit, maybe they appear meaner and adopters worry they wont be good pets. When I lived in Morocco I found the villagers had the same preconceptions about black goats. If the goat was red they would feed it and keep it on the porch but a black goat would have to fend for iteself. People are weird!
wetnosedogs from Alabama on July 14, 2012:
well, glad I got jenny, part lab. but she is not black, mostly red, except for a spot of black on her tail. I would have brought her home anyway.
Why is it people don't like black labs?