looks don't equal behavior
Assumptions don't work
Break the breed label habit
Move Beyond Guesswork and Bias
Label-based assumptions come with inherent bias that affects how shelter staff and the public view a dog. A dog’s breed or mix, assumed or known, is not indicative of how that dog will behave. Adopters need information about a dog’s personality and behavior, not about what you assume their breed to be.
It’s time to move past outdated and inaccurate visual identification. It’s time to view all dogs as individuals.
“The problem is breed identity elicits behavioral expectations on the part of the new owner, even though researchers have found enormous behavioral variability within all breeds.”
Dr. Amy Marder, VMD, CAABPolicy and Research Consultant, National Canine Research Council
Find answers to all of your questions and concerns about why removing breed labels is the best thing for all shelter dogs. Get tips on helping your shelter staff make the change and learn how to answer questions from the public.
View studies and academic papers on how breed labels negatively affect dogs and how inherent bias influences our views. See data on how adoption rates increase for all dogs after shelters focus on a dog’s needs and not breed.
Help your shelter staff better communicate a life without breed labels to potential adopters with these role-playing questions. Show them how to accurate and transparently answer questions about your dogs.
Don’t be afraid of a life without labels
“Before the new kennel cards debuted, we had several staff training sessions to prepare everyone for what to say when people asked about breed.We figured there would be a ton of questions from people wondering why we omitted it from the kennel card, [but] the response ended up being basically no response. We get occasional questions, but people are generally satisfied when we explain why we don’t know what breed most of our dogs are.”
“Removing breed labels opened up a positive dialogue with our community. We encourage our adopters, volunteers, and supporters to evaluate the dogs in our care based on their known behaviors instead of assumptions or expectations. If a potential adopter asks for a specific breed, we ask them what qualities they are looking for and find them a suitable dog based on those personality traits. We steer the conversation more towards lifestyle and have found that we are able to better match adopters with dogs. “