Published: October 26, 2018  

Last updated: March 27, 2023  

This may be showing my age a bit, but when my husband and I adopted our first dog as a couple, we searched the newspaper for available dogs in our area!

Today, with the grace of the internet, we can search for our next dog easily with dog adoption websites. These websites make it easy for you to search by location, breed, age, sex, and size… all while having hundreds of dogs to choose from.

top 4 dog adoption websites

The awesome benefit is it is easy to find a dog to adopt. The disadvantage is that thousands of animal shelters and rescues use these adoption websites as a way to list their dogs that are available to adopt.

I know, you are wondering why that is a bad thing. Well, the big websites such as and do not know if these are honest rescues or puppy mills pretending to be a rescue. Unfortunately, it does happen, and puppy mills still do exist; and they are getting smarter in ways of getting around the new laws.

Are you getting ready to adopt a new dog? Make sure to read 53 Questions You MUST Ask a Rescue BEFORE Adopting a Dog

Don’t Let Convenience of Dog Adoption Websites Overshadow the Need For Research

I’m not saying you shouldn’t use these websites. I used and found our dog JJ. You can read his story here.

It is just really important to do your research. I recommend finding a rescue you like and trust first, then searching for the dog you’d like to adopt. But if you decide to find a dog first, then make sure you research the rescue before adopting.

Our Rescue Dogs 101 website has everything you need to guide you in your journey of adopting your perfect dog. Go to our adoption page to get started in the right direction.

Top Pet Adoption Websites

Below is a list of some of the larger adoption websites.

You should also search your local area, ask friends, family, and co-workers for any recommendations.

There are literally thousands of shelters and dog rescues. Some good, some bad. Research, research and research and find the reputable rescue you want to adopt your next dog from.

There are many rescues that do not list their dogs on the big adoption websites. In fact, the rescue we volunteer for, FetchWI, lists their dogs on their own website only.

screen shot of dog adoption website petfinder

1. PetFinder

Petfinder is one of the original pet adoption websites. It’s the site we used to find our dog JJ many years ago.

PetFinder is nation-wide and your selection of dogs to adopt is going to be huge. With the ability to narrow down your search by location, breed, age, sex, and size you should be able to find your perfect dog to adopt!

Just beware that although PetFinder makes it easy for you to search for your perfect dog to adopt, and they do screen the rescues and shelters, it would be impossible for them research each one to the extent that you should.

If you find a dog with a rescue, please still do your own research on that rescue. Use Google reviews, ask friends, family, and neighbors if they’ve heard of the rescue. Avoid a rescue that raises a red flag of any kind.

Key Benefits of PetFinder Website

  • Search by location, breed, age, sex, and size
  • Search for shelters and rescues by location
  • Shelters and Rescues limited pre-screened by PetFinder Foundation
screen shot of dog adoption website adoptapet

2. Adopt a Pet

Adopt a Pet is powered by Purina, Petco Foundation and Bayer. What I like best about their website is you can search for rescues by location. The only issue is, that it does not list every rescue available.

Key Benefits of Adopt-a-Pet Website

  • Search by location, breed, age, sex, and size
  • Search for shelters and rescues by location
  • Ability to set up new pet alerts via email
screen shot of dog adoption website petsmart

3. PetSmart Charities

Obviously, this is a PetSmart company. While I never advocate buying a dog from a pet store, PetSmart has committed to partnering with local rescues and animal welfare groups.

PetSmart hosts special adoption events at their retail locations so you will be adopting these dogs directly from the local rescue organization, not PetSmart. These groups may bring their adoptable pets to a PetSmart store near you.

There are a select few PetSmart that have adoption centers inside their stores.

Key Benefits of PetSmart Charities Website

  • Search by location, breed, age, sex, and size
  • Search for shelters and rescues by location
  • Ability to set up new pet alerts via email
screen shot of purebreed dog adoption website akc

4. AKC Rescue Network

If you really have your heart set on getting a purebred dog, you can still adopt! There are so many rescues that specialize in a particular breed. The American Kennel Club has a great resource to search for the breed you are interested in.

The AKC search is a little cumbersome, and it may take a few clicks to find a rescue near you, but it’s the right place to start.

Just note that all-breed rescues usually have limited purebred dogs available, and have stricter adoption process and requirements. You will need to be patient to find the dog you want.

Key Benefit of the AKC Rescue Network

  • Search for shelters and rescues by breed

>> Sign up Now for the Rescue Dogs 101: Roadmap to Adopting Your Perfect Dog >>

Which is the Best Dog Adoption Website for YOU?

All of these dog adoption websites are easy to use and make it convenient to find a dog to adopt. And many shelters and rescues will use multiple sites, so I recommend choosing one website and stick with it.

You can also search out a particular rescue and use their website or Facebook page as a direct source of finding out about new dogs that are up for adoption.

There are so many dogs that need to be adopted and you can spend hours and days searching, and that’s okay. Adopting a dog is a huge decision and should come with a lot of research.

Here are a few tips to help make the process easier:

Comment below and let me know, which dog adoption website do you like the best? And why?

About the Author

Debi McKee

Debi McKee is the expert behind Rescue Dogs 101 where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She is a mom of 3 human kids and 4 dogs and volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society. Click here for more about Debi and her passion for helping you and your dog.

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  1. I am looking for a Pomeranian or Pomeranian mix dog,2 to 4 years old.I recently lost my beloved Pomeranian,and
    I have so much love to give to another furkid! I am an older lady with no children in the house! Please help!

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