The purpose of this paper is to examine the factors that impact the adoptability of dogs in animal shelters. These factors include the naming and breed labeling process as well as characteristics such as age, size and coat color. The factors that determine how long it takes for dogs to get adopted interests me because of my past work in animal shelters and my current interest in pursuing work in this field. The findings of this study could help lead to solutions to the problem of overcrowding at animal shelters across the U.S. By using participant observation and interviews with workers at a specific shelter along with content analysis of descriptions of 50 dogs, my research found that various factors have an influence on the adoptability of shelter animals. Breed labels were found to significantly influence adoptability. Dogs with the labels Pitbull, Hound, Terrier and Rottweiler were breeds that stayed at the shelter the longest, with pit bulls leading the pack in length of time until adoption. Age also impacted length of stay, and the older a dog was the longer it tended to stay at the shelter. Larger dogs were found to stay longer as well. Darker coat colors were also acknowledged to lengthen the stay of shelter animals. Understanding these trends in terms of the perspective of potential adopters could help shelters come up with strategies to counteract the perception that certain dogs are less adoptable. This, in turn, could reduce overcrowding and lead to a reduction in the number of healthy animals euthanized.


Frese, Pamela


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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