Breed Labels
To see all dogs as individuals


Identifying a dog's breed mix through appearance is often inaccurate, with a 75% mistake rate according to studies. Multiple people rarely agree on the mix, so it's better to admit uncertainty rather than guess.


Animal shelters do a great job disclosing medical and behavioral history to adopters. It's time to make the same ethical choice with breed labels. It's important to be honest and transparent with adopters.


Shelters should stop trying to guess a dog’s breed based on looks because they are already very busy. If they stop doing that, they can focus on more important things like finding the right home for each dog.

Need help making the change?

Train the Team

Pre-Recorded & Live Virtual Presentation 

Animal Farm Foundation is dedicated to helping shelters across the country end breed guesses for dogs in their care. You can train your team via a pre-recorded presentation or schedule a live virtual session for staff and volunteers to engage with the presenter and ask questions.   

Only 9% of the cumulative variation among dogs on the 8 behavioral factors identified can be attributed to breed.

So little (almost none) of the variability on the agonistic threshold factor (behaviors commonly labeled “aggression”) can be attributed to genetics at all that it is of no utility in predicting behavior in individual dogs.

The majority of mixed breed dogs have more than 4 different breeds in their ancestry.

Morphology varies too extensively among mutts and people typically place too much weight on associations between a few traits and specific breeds to make visual identification reliable.

The dog breed most commonly appearing in the ancestry of mutts is the American Pit Bull Terrier, which appears in the ancestry of 10% of mixed breed dogs.


What Kind of dog is that?

As humans, we like to categorize things so we can relate to them. When we see a dog we often think, “What kind of dog is that?” 

Let’s play a game. For each dog, guess what you would label the dog’s predominant and secondary breed (the breeds with the highest percentages in their DNA).

slide to reveal dna results

How did you do at guessing those breed labels? What did you think about the results? It’s okay if your guesses were wrong. Collectively animal welfare professionals are wrong 75% of the time when they try to visually identify dogs.

Suggested reading

Want hard copies of these resources?

Send an email to and ask for your free removing breed label resources.

More Shelter Resources

AFF's Complete Resource Library