From this point forward, in cases when shelter personnel don’t agree about what a dog’s predominant breed may be, Multnomah County Animal Services will now be using the term “American Shelter Dog” (ASD). It is becoming more and more popular in the shelter industry to use this term, rather than the less affectionate term, “mutt”. The Lewis and Clark Humane Society of Montana has an excellent explanation of the reasoning behind the term on their web site.
Sometimes, we can guess about a dog’s breed and feel fairly confident we’re correct (or at least mostly correct). At other times, we just aren’t sure. Labeling a dog as one breed or another without actually knowing can set a dog up for potentially unfair or unreasonable expectations.
For example, the term “Lab mix” is often used to describe a generic black or yellow dog with flop ears. But if an adopter is considering a Lab mix because they expect the dog to fetch or swim, they may be disappointed.
More importantly, an adopter may be overlooking their perfect match because they would never have considered a certain breed when that dog may not actually be that breed or exhibit any behavior characteristics of the breed in question.
We are NOT using this designation to hide certain breed mixes. There may be a dog or two out there listed as an ASD that we can all agree has some pitbull or rottweiler characteristics. But we cannot know for sure and if we incorrectly label a dog as such, we may be condemning that dog to breed bias from adopters, landlords, dog daycare, etc.
Therefore, in cases where it is not entirely clear what a dog’s primary breed is and it is reasonable to ascertain that a dog may be a mix of any of many possible breeds, the dog will be listed as “American Shelter Dog”. As for potential adopters, we hope that they will look at who the dog is instead of what it may or may not be