How to Find Small Dogs for Adoption

Jack Russell terriers are energetic little dogs, suitable for active families.
little jack russell image by NeptuneTech from

Finding a small dog that will be right for your home isn't always easy. Rather than delving into the unknown by buying a puppy from a breeder or a pet store, consider adopting an older dog or a mixed-breed dog whose character is developed and there for you to see. An older dog with a mellow personality may tolerate the exuberant excitement of small children, while the puppy might turn out to be overwhelmed by your active household. A high-energy adopted miniature pinscher or a rat terrier can be a great companion dog ready-made for an on-the-go teenager. Finding the perfect small dog for your family to adopt requires some work, but it's well worth the time and effort.

Step 1

Research small dog breeds before searching for a pet. Depending on the breed, a small dog might be content as a lap dog or it may be an energetic pet that requires long walks and well-supervised activities. For example, a pug will enjoy a daily walk with you and then settle down on the sofa for a long nap, while a miniature pinscher requires several daily walks, time spent running laps around the yard, and a long session of toy-chasing before he's ready to rest.

Step 2

Visit your local animal shelter. The shelter generally has a selection of dogs available for adoption. Some shelter dogs may have been surrendered due to a family's financial circumstances or because the family had to move to a place where they couldn't keep dogs. Some are strays; some may be dogs whose elderly owners have died or moved to a nursing home. Often, required vaccinations, spaying or neutering, a dog license and microchipping are included in adoption fees at local animal shelters.

Step 3

Contact a rescue organization that specializes in small dogs of a specific breed. Most rescue groups have strict rules for adopters, and an adoption fee. The group may send a representative to visit your home to ensure that the dog will receive the loving care he deserves. Since many rescued dogs originate in animal shelters, they are spayed or neutered, have all their vaccinations and are usually microchipped. In addition, the foster organization generally has evaluated the dog's personality and temperament in order to find the best match for him.

Step 4

Call veterinarians' offices. Often the staff at vet clinics know of pets who need new homes due to their owners' circumstances. Many vet clinics maintain bulletin boards where people can post information on wanted dogs or dogs in need of new homes.

Step 5

Check the local senior center's bulletin board. If an elderly person requires out-of-home care, his beloved dog may need a new home. Post a flier with your contact information, and check the bulletin board for postings.

Step 6

Tell your family, friends and co-workers that you're looking for a small dog to adopt. A word-of-mouth campaign may lead you to a small dog who is just right for your home.

Step 7

Search classified ads in newspapers and online for small dogs in need of homes. Many owners who face a change in circumstances try to re-home a much-loved pet themselves rather than trust his future to their local animal shelter. Use caution when contacting strangers, however. If a dog owner asks for an adoption fee of several hundred dollars, it probably indicates he is selling dogs, not re-homing them. There's also the chance that you're at risk for a robbery if you're carrying a large amount of cash.


  • Rescued dogs may have health or behavioral issues due to age or upbringing.

  • A free dog may require spaying or neutering, vaccinations and a license. All these items, plus a visit to the veterinarian, add up to significantly more than a shelter's adoption fees.


  • Reputable breeders occasionally have pet-quality puppies or adult dogs available for sale.

  • Up to 25 percent of dogs at shelters are purebred dogs.

  • Most small dogs at animal shelters are adopted quickly, but your chances of a successful adoption increase if you're willing to adopt an older dog or a mixed-breed dog.



About the Author

With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui authored 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden, available as an ebook. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement and social issues.

Photo Credits

  • little jack russell image by NeptuneTech from