SPCA of Wake County Removes Breed Listings for Dogs

You’ve heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Now we present “don’t judge a dog by its breed.” The SPCA of Wake County is no longer listing dogs by their presumed breed with the hope that adopters will give each dog a chance to win you over for who they are, not who they look like they’ll be.

The SPCA removed breed listings to be better able to match families with a new, furry family member. When someone comes in to adopt a dog, we want them to see the dog standing in front of them, not the dog they think they will get based on the breeds listed on an information sheet.

It is important to keep in mind that in recent decades, many breeders have bred more for looks than behavior. Because of this, looking like a certain breed is no longer a reliable way to predict a dog’s behavior. Not all Labradors love water. Not all golden retrievers love children. Not all hounds will bay and howl. There are as many breed typecasts as there are breeds. Sometimes they’re accurate, but more often they’re not. We don’t want families to skip the dog that could be just the right fit or choose the dog that could be all wrong because a piece of paper identified the dog as a particular breed.

We’d much rather an adopter spend time with the dog they’re interested in. We’d rather discuss what you’re looking for and make recommendations based on how we’ve seen these dogs act while in our care.

Of course, we know there will be times when breed characteristics need to be discussed. Adopters will live in the real world with their new dogs and the rest of the world hasn’t removed breed listings. Landlords and insurance companies still have restrictions. Certain breeds still have commonly seen medical concerns.

Luckily, the SPCA has a long history of evaluating each animal based on temperament and specific training/medical needs. Staff members speak with all potential adopters about the dog they’ve chosen and any information we may know about them. If an adopter’s landlord restricts certain breeds and their chosen dog resembles one of those breeds, we will discuss it. Sometimes a dog’s breed may affect the type of care it requires. For example, English bulldogs often require medical vigilance for respiratory problems and skin infections. Some breeds are prone to a blood clotting disorder called von Willebrand’s disease. If someone were adopting a dog with similar concerns, these potential issues would be discussed.

Dropping the breed label won’t change how the dog looks, but will hopefully change the way people look at the dog. Our goal has always been, and still is, to set pets and adopters up for success for a long, happy life together. This step is just another tool to help us do that.

Interested in learning more? Come visit!


This entry was posted in Blog, News by Tara Lynn.

14 Responses to “SPCA of Wake County Removes Breed Listings for Dogs”

  1. Susan

    GREAT idea!

  2. Jamie Jones

    The SPCA of Wake County ROCKS!!! This is awesome news… thank you for raising the bar and setting such gold standards!

  3. Susy

    This is wonderful. Hope it will help the animals get adopted quicker.
    Thank you for doing this.

  4. Kim Watts

    I have been waiting for this move for so long! I’m thrilled. As a Pit Bull advocate, I’m so happy that this breed will now be seen for who they are individually without the label that comes with a misinformed stereotype. Thank you so much!

  5. Alisa Tonnesen

    Pit bull advocate/volunteer/ and owner of 2 pit mixes and 1 full blood RIP Jazzy (lived most of life on chain for backyard breeder). I understand the logic/reasoning for this, however I feel as an owner you need to know and be educated on the responsibilities of owning one. If you are not aware of what you own and move to a county/state where they are banned, would you be willing to relocate again? Until BSL is removed from legislation, I feel knowledge is power. It’s as they say a catch 22 because mostly what you find in shelters are pits and pit mixes and they are constantly overlooked.

  6. Kelsey Erdman

    This is amazing! It gives dogs that are not as likely to get adopted a better chance.

  7. Teresa

    I greatly appreciate all the good work you do for animals BUT think this idea is totally unrealistic. Are we going gender neutral next? Dog breed labels serve a purpose… hunting dogs, protective dogs, herding dogs etc, To decide not to give future owners ALL information available regarding a certain dog seems irresponsible to me. The type of security, housing, exercise and even food can be breed specific. Sometimes a trend is just that…a trend. Please leave that quagmire to the humans.

    • Darci VanderSlik

      Hi Teresa,

      I understand your concern, however when you say it’s irresponsible not to give adopters ALL the information about a certain dog please keep in mind shelter employees RARELY EVER get any information about the pets they receive. Unless a pedigree dog comes in with their paperwork, a dog’s breed a merely an unfair guessing game.

      A dog may look more like One breed but actually be mostly another. You’d be amazed at how similar labs/pointers/pit bulls can look. By labeling them breed you are discounting the other breeds mixed in.

      Plus as it’s dangerous to give a family the false sense of security if they see a dog listed as a stereotypical “family dog,” like a Golden Retriever (with the reputation of being an ideal family dog). They may let their guard down bc of the breed label, because Golden’s have such a great image in Society. That’s what when an accident could happen. Instead they should be looking at each dog as an individual. Treating this golden as any other dog in the shelter. Because unless that Golden came in with pedigree papers, there might be another breed or two or three mixed in there.

  8. Pat Woodlief

    Agree whole-heartedly with Teresa. Too much research available on breed specific to ignore. It’s only fair that consumers know breed to enable their own tesearch.

  9. Bob Moore


    If someone were to adopt a dog from you and you chose not to tell them it’s breed, and then something bad happened, they would be justified in holding you accountable. You’re playing with people’s safety. Knowledge is always best.

    • Tara Lynn

      Hi Bob. We are not trying to hide information about a dog to potential adopters. We focus on each animal’s personality and communicate what we know about each animal with potential adopters. Their individual personality is going to help us know much more about the dog than looking at it and guessing what breed it could be.

  10. Sandra Johnson

    Just a comment here, but if the people coming to adopt a dog don’t know the difference between a pit bull/pit bull mix and a boxer, German Shepherd, golden retriever, blood hound…..and I could go on but you get my drift here…..then for the dog’s sake, DON‘T ADOPT! And as for the moving to another state that doesn’t “allow” specific breeds….I have one question for them, “would you move anyway and leave your child(ren) behind to fend for themselves?? I’m just saying……

  11. Bud

    Dropping the breed label WON’T change the way people look at a dog. I suspect that removing breed labeling is for liability insurance purposes. If the SPCA doesn’t label a dog, it can’t be held liable for any breed-specific behaviors. This move does a great disservice to the dogs and potential adopters.

  12. Kristen

    I see good intentions here but I personally prefer all information and generally believe more knowledge is better in most matters. For me personally, many terriers, poodles, water dogs, etc. are a better fit for me due to my allergies (& the hairless chinese crested!). These “fuzzy” hypoallergenic breeds allow me to breathe.


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