Breed Rescue

Breed Rescue

Julie Morris, ASPCA, VP National Shelter Outreach

Purebred dogs often need rescuing, too. Fortunately, hundreds of purebred rescue groups serve just that purpose.

Purebred dog rescue organizations grew out of the concern of “fanciers” of various breeds to find homes for unwanted, abandoned, stray, mistreated or neglected dogs of those breeds. Breed specific rescue groups are made up of dedicated volunteers who house, care for and carefully place purebreds in new, hopefully permanent, homes. For prospective dog owners who are interested in a particular breed, this type of rescue group provides an alternative to breeders or pet shops. An important plus is that these rescue organizations do not contribute to the companion overpopulation problem.

Breed specific rescue groups work hand in hand with and complement the work of animal shelters. Many shelters maintain a list of breed groups in their area, and when a purebred is received (shelters report that between 20 percent and 30 percent of dogs received are purebreds), call for assistance with placement. As purebred rescue groups remove “their” breed from a shelter, they free up a run and buy time for another dog. Additionally, many rescue groups take dogs who might be considered less adoptable by some shelters, such as dogs who are older or have special needs.

TLC unlimited

As breed specialists, purebred rescue groups know what to expect in terms of personality and temperament and even what medical problems dogs of that breed might be prone to suffer. This knowledge helps them to make successful placements. Rescue groups also have the advantage of time and TLC. Most of them rely heavily on foster homes to care for dogs until they are adopted. Foster families generally can provide a loving home environment and can keep dogs for extended periods of time.


Rescue groups may sometimes  spend hundreds (even thousands) of dollars caring for individual animals. In addition to general veterinary care and spay/neuter operation, rescue groups often work with private veterinarians to treat special medical needs or injuries. This isn’t to say that rescue groups have lots of money — they don’t! In fact, the most valuable commodities to rescue groups are volunteers and funds. 

Check it out

If you think you’re ready to adopt a golden retriever, basset hound or other purebred dog — what next? A good way to start is to back up one step and do some research and to investigate different breeds from sources such as Petfinder. Only after narrowing the field to a handful of compatible breeds is it time to find a rescue group.


Once you locate a rescue group, don’t expect to waltz in and buy a dog. Rescue groups are not selling dogs, and have a vested interest in placing the dogs in permanent homes. In fact, most rescue groups talk more people out of their breed than into giving one a home.


Expect a rescue group to ask you questions about your lifestyle and to require that dogs be spayed or neutered prior to adoption (stay away from those that don’t). Many also require a home visit and/or a fenced area for the dog. Finally, expect to pay an adoption fee. The fee will help reimburse the organization for vaccinations, heartworm testing, teeth cleaning, grooming and other medical care that the dog has received.