How to find a purebred dog in rescue

Back from vacation and feeling totally refreshed. During the trip, my friend Johanna and I stopped by Maricopa County Animal Care & Control. You may know that I love to visit local municipal shelters while traveling. It helps me to gain perspective, connect with people, and share what does and doesn’t work. We all have the same goal, to save as many animals as possible. It’s cool to see that goal in action throughout the country.

While we were walking through the shelter, I spotted so many purebred dogs. We saw Labs, Beagles, German Shepherds, Huskies, Chows and so many others. It’s not uncommon. I see these kinds of dogs regularly at Chicago Animal Care and Control all the time. People are amazed to learn that 25% of rescue dogs in shelters are actually purebreds.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I post purebred adoptable dogs in Chicago to my stories every Friday. I want people to know just how many kinds of dogs are in rescue. Not every dog is a mutt or a pit bull type dog (I just love to show those off!). 

I have a purebred dog (alien?) and if you want a purebred too, there’s plenty of ways to adopt one. Here is what I recommend to people who are looking for a certain type of breed.

Search engines

PetFinder, Adopt-a-pet, and PetTango are the first places I recommend for finding a certain type of dog you want. You can choose what breed, age, sex, and other characteristics to search for. Results come up based on proximity of the location you enter. You can scroll through, click on pictures, and apply to the dogs that interest you.

Breed Specific Rescues 

If the above links don’t return the results you want, don’t panic. It’s time to get in contact with a rescue that focuses on the breed you want. Many people think that dogs that come through rescue are broken or damaged in some way. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Usually, dogs end up in rescue through no fault of their own. Housing issues, lifestyle changes, and unexpected life events are all reasons dogs end up in rescues. It doesn’t make them any less of a good dog.

Now, it’s important to note that these organizations (and every rescue) put a great deal of work (and money) into the dogs they save. You’ll definitely have to fill out an application, possibly have a phone interview, and maybe even a home check depending on the group. While these might seem like a lot of work, the rescue wants to ensure the dog is going into a home that’s a good fit. It benefits everyone.

Reach out to the organization that works with the breed you’re looking for and introduce yourself. Fill out an application and if there’s a waiting list, asked to be put on it. That way, when a dog that you want comes in, you should already be approved to adopt. 

You can find a list of breed-specific rescues here.  


This may seem like an odd thing to do if you want to adopt a purebred dog but hear me out. First, fostering is crucial in saving all kinds of dogs. So many rescues rely heavily on them. Fostering is also an amazing way to learn if the dog is a good fit for your household.

It’s a great idea to foster because fosters often get “first dibs” on the dogs that come in through the rescue. So, you can apply to be a foster home for a local organization or a breed-specific organization. This way, you’ll most likely join their foster group and get alerts when new dogs are coming in that need a foster. I’ve seen so many different purebred dogs get posted in these groups. You’d be able to take in the dog right away and then decide if that dog is a good fit. 

Most organizations will let fosters keep the dog if they choose to do so. So, you’d not only get priority on dogs coming into rescue, but you can also decide to foster fail and keep the dog. Be sure to check with the rescue on this policy as there are sometimes rules/guidelines!

I hear from a lot of people that they went to a breeder because they wanted a specific kind of dog. That’s okay to want a certain kind of dog! I simply wish more people would take the time to do a little research, and have a little patience. There are so many wonderful dogs that need a home. You certainly don’t need to go buy one.  


Spots– Proving there are, in fact, purebred dogs in rescue, this Dalmatian girl is sweet as pie. Spots was super sick when Fetching Tails Foundation took her into their care. She spent a bit of time at the hospital and then in a foster home. Spots is finally ready for her forever home. She’s a total doll and super sweet. She’d love to spend her golden years on a couch and snuggling!

Penelope – This girl is adoption pending, and it’s easy to see why! Look how lovely she is. Don’t worry, if you’d like someone just as wonderful, check out Gecko. This is a boy that is all love and was on death’s door when I pleaded for Fetching Tails to take him. Luckily they did and he’s pretty stinking perfect. 


I had a little shopping spree at Madewell. Usually, I hate trying on jeans but I was feeling not as terrible about it as usual. I found these to be super comfortable and high-waisted. I’d say they run a little on the larger size so consider sizing down. Shop the rest of the look below!

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Thank you Margaret Rajic for these photos!

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3 thoughts on “How to find a purebred dog in rescue”

  1. Christine, I just loved your article and the photos!!! What a great ambassador you are for rescue! What you said in the article I know to be all true – every word! Unless one is a breeder and showing his/her dogs, there is absolutely no reason to BUY a dog. We all know how many millions of pets are in shelters (or worse) and who need good, loving homes. I can vouch personally. Thanks for all you do for dogdom!!!

    1. I absolutely agree and I love that you have rescued and helped so many Irish Setters. A breed so close to my heart. Without you, Patrick wouldn’t have been able to live out the best days of his life. Thank you for loving and rescuing so many lovely dogs!

  2. Spots is such a sweetie – and very important point that if people want a purebred dog, they can find one in rescue. I hope more people get the message. I’ve been having difficulty lately with the education piece – I’m just not sure how to start the conversation in a nonjudgemental way or in a way that doesn’t offend with people I see at the dog park or what not, hoping that I may influence them next time to rescue. I think the biggest thing we need to solve is reducing the number of litters from people not spaying or neutering, mostly in the South.

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