Adoptable Dogs in the USA [January 2024 Statistics]

Adoptable dogs in USA January 2024 Statistics

Hey! Are you considering adopting a dog, but don’t know where to start? Here is an analysis I did of 152,000 dogs up for adoption on Petfinder’s database as of end of December 2023. I evaluated the regional dog availability, the most common breeds for adoption, the health status of the dogs, and their compatibility with families.

Key Findings:

  • 35% of dogs available for adoption are located in Texas, California, and Florida.
  • The most common dog breeds available for adoption are Pitbull Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds, but they face challenges in finding a family.
  • A significant percentage of dogs available for adoption are spayed or neutered, have up-to-date shots, and don’t require special care.

Dog Adoption Overview 

As of December 2023, there were approximately 152,000 dogs listed on Petfinder available for adoption in the United States. Among these, 35% are located in Texas, California, and Florida.

These statistics align with the fact that these three states have the highest intake of dogs in shelters. Fortunately, the rate of animals surrendered by their owners has decreased nationally, including in Texas, California, and Florida. But, the number of stray dogs (abandoned, lost, or born on the street) has continued increasing, driving the number of intakes in shelters.

Availability of adoptable dogs per state

When normalizing the number of dogs for adoption with the population size, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Delaware, and South Dakota have the highest number of adoptable dogs per resident.

State#Dogs on PetfinderResident PopulationDogs per 100 people
New Hampshire3611,377,52938
New Jersey3,0079,288,99431
New Mexico1,4082,117,52215
New York5,50620,201,24937
North Carolina4,23810,439,38825
North Dakota251779,09431
Rhode Island3401,097,37932
South Carolina3,5925,118,42514
South Dakota174886,66751
West Virginia9081,793,71620
Source: Petfinder – December 2023, U.S. Census Bureau – Census 2020.

Who are these dogs?

There is a fairly equal distribution between males and females. Nearly half are medium-sized, weighing between 20 and 35 lbs, and almost half are between the ages of 3 and 7.

Percentage of female and male dogs
Percetage of dogs per size
Percentage of dogs per age group

The three most common dog breeds available for adoption are Pitbull Terriers, Labrador Retriever, and German Shepherd, and there are a few reasons for this.

Pitbulls are less likely to get adopted as they have a reputation for being aggressive. Labrador Retrievers are the most popular breed in the world, but many owners are not prepared for their high energy therefore many will end up surrendering them to shelters. As for German Shepherds, similarly to Labradors, they also require a lot of mental and physical exercise, but sadly many owners are not suitable for them.

Most popular breeds for adoption

How is their health?

  • 77% of dogs are spayed or neutered to reduce the problem of homeless animals. Puppies are not typically spayed/neutered until they are 6 months old.
  • On average, 74% have their shots up to date. 
  • Only 3% of the dogs were considered to have special needs, most of whom have physical disabilities, chronic conditions, or behavioral problems. Contrary to what people believe that senior dogs represent a problem due to possible health conditions and engrained behaviors, only 9% of them were classified as having special needs.
Percentage of dogs spayed and neutered
Percentage of vaccinated dogs
Percentage of dogs with special needs

Are they a good fit for your lifestyle?

  • 67% of them are not house-trained yet, so expect accidents at home at the beginning, especially if you plan to adopt a puppy. You will need to be willing to put in the time and effort.
  • When it comes to evaluating if they are going to get along with other human or animal members of the family, it is always a surprise factor, to be honest. You can have an idea from the initial interactions, but you are only going to discover it when the new dog arrives at home.
Percentage of house trained dogs ready to be adopted

What about their personalities?

According to their foster families, they are mostly friendly, affectionate, and playful.

Dog's personalities
Most popular names by gender
Most popular names by size
Most popular names by age
Most popular names by breed
Most popular names by state


For this study, we downloaded the list of available dogs for adoption on Petfinder’s API, as of December 30th, 2023. In particular, we focused on the following fields: dog name, gender, primary breed, size, age, attributes, environment, and tags. In total, our data was based on 151,901 dog records in the United States.

For some analysis, we merged data from the U.S. Census Bureau conducted in April 2020, and The Industry Trends Dashboard from the National Base of Shelter Animals Count (2023 YTD numbers).

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to expand your family with a furry addition, please consider adopting as your first choice as many pups are still waiting for their fur-ever homes 🥹.

As you have seen, there is a good variety of options available depending on your preferences and lifestyle. You can choose from a range of sizes, ages, and breeds, and most are healthy and ready to be adopted.

If you can’t adopt at this time, another way to help is by spreading the word. Feel free to share this information with others 💖.

Katherine Ortega

Blogger and pet lover. I've been around dogs my whole life and have experience caring for all types, sizes and ages of pups. Senior dogs hold a special place in my heart 💗

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