Who Needs Breeds?

Look at this dog.

What do you see?




Do you see a crooked smile?

Big, brown puppy dog eyes?

A belly waiting to be rubbed?

Or maybe … your new best friend?

Aleah is clearly a mixed breed dog. Mixed with which breeds? We will probably never know. The truth is that trying to label a dog’s breed based solely on looks is not only unfair, it’s inaccurate.

That’s why, at the Jacksonville Humane Society, we want to share what we do know about our dogs – who they are as individuals. Sure, we can guess and tell you that Aleah might be a lab mix, or a shepherd mix, or a terrier mix, or a pointer mix … but those are just guesses. That conclusion would have only been reached because a shelter worker said, “Well … she kinda looks like a lab.” And that’s not fair to Aleah. Or you.

What we know for sure is that when you ask Aleah to sit, you better have her favorite treat – Pupperoni – ready as a reward. She will happily give you a high-five when you say “paw” and can even catch a treat in her mouth! Aleah is a big fan of belly rubs and also an excellent giver of sloppy kisses.

What we know for sure is that if you’re looking for a great running or hiking companion, Aleah is an excellent choice. Aleah recently spent a few days with a foster family and they reported that she makes friends wherever she goes and loves car rides.  We know that Aleah might prefer to be the only dog in the home, but she does great on her “buddy walks” with other dogs here at the shelter.

Those are things we can tell you about Aleah. So, does it even matter if we label her as a lab mix or a shepherd mix or a terrier or a chow or a hound? Why should guessing what two breeds came together to create Aleah matter more than telling you just how great she is right now?

We understand that this is a change. JHS is here to help you when you adopt and for the life of your pet. Please come see us! Our adoption counselors would love to talk to you about what you are looking for in a companion rather than what you are looking at. Landlord or insurance concerns? We’re happy to help there, too. At the Jacksonville Humane Society, we are committed to helping adopters look past labels and focus on love.

Infographic: All Dogs are Individuals
by Animal Farm Foundation

Click to see the full image

JHS Breed Label Statement:

The Jacksonville Humane Society believes that each dog is an individual and should be treated that way, so we’ve decided to stop identifying them by breeds as of January 1, 2017. Much like people, dogs have unique personalities and lovable quirks. The truth is that when a dog comes in, our staff typically just make their best guess about breed based on the physical characteristics they see. This is a pretty inexact science when you consider that a dog has approximately 20,000 genes and less than 1% of those determine what they look like. Appearance is only one tiny piece of the genetic puzzle. The majority of dogs that enter our shelter are mixed breed and to arbitrarily label them based on looks seems unfair to dogs and adopters. Looks don’t equal behavior. Besides, it doesn’t really matter once you lock eyes and fall in love with your new best friend. Love is love. We invite you to meet any of our dogs to learn about their individual personalities so you can find the perfect dog for you.

Watch Aleah’s News Story here.

For more information about the science and data behind removing breed labels, click here.

Just for fun: