Removing the stigma: the increase in the adoptions of potentially dangerous dogs

Ayla Soriano Martín on 05/02/2021

The consistent work of the shelters and animal welfare organizations managed to remove the stigma from potentially dangerous dogs. The adoptions of these dogs have increased by more than 400% in the last 6 years. This study presents the actual numbers from different shelters in Spain and mainly in Catalonia.

The following chart shows the adoptions of potentially dangerous dogs over the total adoptions of dogs for each year. Whereas in 2015, only 4% of the adopted dogs was a “potentially dangerous” one, in 2020 this percentage increased to almost 20%. These numbers are not estimations but actual operation data from several shelters. It is important to notice that this trend is consistent among the different animal welfare organizations.

Potentially Dangerous dogs

To understand the reasons behind this increase, we talked with Miquel Montanera, a dog trainer that specializes in the care of potentially dangerous dogs. Miquel explains that this increase is the result of social awareness. “People is more informed and have less prejudice against them”. For Miquel there are three reasons that helped increase the awareness and remove the stigma: the owners of these dogs, the work of the shelters and the positive press.

The owners of potentially dangerous dogs have contributed to the elimination of the sigma by caring and properly training their dogs. By walking them, other people see them being relaxed and behaving properly without any bad or dangerous behavior. Being “normal dogs” helped others see them as what they are, dogs, the same as any other breed.

On the other hand, the massive abandonment of these dogs, increased their number in the shelters. According to Miquel, initially, the shelter carers also had prejudice against them, mainly due to the lack of information. As time passed by, they got to know them better and understood their true, caring and relaxed character. When a family came to a shelter looking for a dog, they would also present them, as they did for any other dog.

Finally, journalists did a great work to inform the public and help them understand these breeds. Little by little they managed to remove the stigma and make the public appreciate them.

Thanks to these factors, associations launched several campaigns and positive talks which made it possible to change the public opinion and consequently increase the adoptions.

According to the Spanish law, there are 16 breeds that are considered potentially dangerous dogs. According to Miquel, “they are simply dogs and that’s all. There should not have been any discrimination against them”. 

Source of the data

11pets: Adopt is the most complete platform available today for the management of animal welfare organizations and is used by more than 100 shelters from all over the world. The data presented in this report come from the actual operation of the shelters that are using the platform and participated in this study. This is why the give a so accurate picture of the reality. The data regard the adoptions made in the last 10 years from different European shelters, mainly in Spain and more specifically in Catalonia.

Miquel Montanera: Feel free to contact him at [email protected]


You can use information from this report only for personal purposes and by including the corresponding citation to the 11pets.com site. For the use of the data for implicit or explicit commercial purposes, it is necessary to previously obtain the written consent of 11 PETS LTD.