I often wonder as a dog mom if there were associations between the dogs photos on rescue sites and how long it takes to get adopted. And what types of characteristics draws an individual to specific pups, even if it’s unintentionally? Can we use this information to help rescue sites with best practices?

There was a study conducted and researched on PetRescue, Australia’s largest directly of animals who need adopted. The study wanted to find out of the attributes of photographs in dogs in online rescue profiles affect adoption speed. It investigates over 8300 dogs profiles and discovers prominent associations between their length of being online and their visual characteristics.

Rescue Dog Photos Selection for Study

The doggo selection for this study includes all dogs listed on the PetRescue site from 2004-2013. Throughout this nine year period, over 122,000 pups were list on the website. The date the pup was added to the rescue site and the date when the pup was removed was used to calculated their length of being at the adoption shelter aka their speed.

The pieces the study measures includes both mutable and immutable characteristics. Mutable means it could change with any picture. Mutable characteristics for this study includes whether the pup’s mouth was open and how. It also includes determining the background and whether the sclera was visible (white part of the eyes.) It also accounts for any accessories and quality of the photograph. Lastly, the immutable characteristics includes ear placements, color of coat, patterns, facial markings, and color of their eyes.

What characteristics were found with the pups staying the shortest?

There were a few key elements of the photograph of the dogs who had the shortest rescue stays. These include:

  • The dog’s mouth closed
  • Their coloring has a black coat color
  • Dogs has floppy ears
  • Being photographed in a kennel structure background

How can we use these results?

The results could imply that users of these pet adoption sites favor the doggos who appears needing the most help. I think these results could be helpful when rescues are uploading pictures of pups from their adoption site. Changing these mutable photo elements such as background/quality of photo/etc. could be a simple visual technique and develop best practices for showing off the pup’s best side.