Are you thinking about adopting a dog? That’s great! If you live in or near rural areas of the U.S., chances are many of the dogs in your local shelters are rez dogs. 

What are rez dogs? They’re reservation dogs—meaning dogs who roam freely on Native American Reservations. There are tons of loving dogs in need of new forever homes across the United States and all over the planet. But in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 10th, 2022, we wanted to focus on the benefits of adopting a rez dog as your new furbaby—and the need for adoptive families for these special pups.

rez dog running

What Kinds of Dogs Are Rez Dogs?

The most common rez dog breeds are herding breed mixes or livestock-guarding breed mixes. Examples of these are German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs, Great Pyrenees, Border Collies, Anatolian Shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers, and Boxers.

Why Are There So Many Dogs on Reservations?

Many of these dogs are strays. Although people living on reservations use dogs as herders and guard dogs, there are often not enough animal resources or affordable pet care on reservation land. This means most dogs won’t get spayed or neutered. Running loose leads to the reproduction of more dogs—but without enough homes and resources to care for them.

According to Nuzzles & Co. animal shelter, there are very few animal shelters, kennels, veterinary clinics, or animal control officers across the entire Navajo Nation area. On top of this, the cost of animal care is often prohibitive. 

This has led to hundreds of thousands of homeless cats and dogs across reservation land. And the overpopulation of homeless pets in shelters leads to high euthanasia rates.

woman hugging puppy

Are Rez Dogs Good Pets?

You can help with pet homelessness by adopting a rez dog to join your family! As with any adopted pet, this new pup will likely need medical care and socialization. This care is exactly what the veterinary staff and care team at Nuzzles & Co. and other animal shelters work hard to provide. 

Rez dogs are well suited for anyone who has a large outdoor space, a fenced-in yard, farm animals, or anyone who loves being active outdoors. These pups are used to getting a lot of outdoor time and exercise. And many of them are accustomed to having a job as a herder or guard dog. 

Dogs, in general, love serving a purpose and feeling a sense of accomplishment. If you’re looking for a pup who can be a part of the family and be active outdoors, a rez dog could be a great fit for you! 

But as always, there are plenty of rez dogs available for adoption who are older, tired, and ready for a safe, loving home where they can rest and snuggle. So no matter what your situation, preference, or need, there are plenty of rez dogs with differing personalities and breed mixes to fit your family and lifestyle.

Nuzzles & Co. Is Devoted to Rescuing Rez Dogs

Who is Nuzzles & Co.? Nuzzles is an animal rescue that devotes specific efforts to aid with the overpopulation on Native American Reservations by working with local rescue groups. 

This nonprofit noticed the great need for additional help and resources in the Navajo Nation area and offers a helping hand for homeless dogs and cats that need medical care, food, and homes. 

“In January 2017, the Ute Reservation invited [Nuzzles & Co.] to come onto the Reservation and set up the first-ever spay/neuter clinic.” It was initially going to be a one-day clinic but quickly turned into a three-day event because of the overwhelmingly positive response from the people on the reservation. 

Nuzzles & Co. was able to spay and neuter over 150 dogs and cats during that event who would otherwise not have been able to receive that medical care. “Through spay and neuter efforts, as well as rescue efforts, [they] are working side-by-side with members of the Ute tribe to help alleviate animal suffering, disease, overpopulation and death.”

Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of

How Can I Help?

First and foremost, the best way to help with pet homelessness is through adoption! You can go to Nuzzle & Co.’s website to find out how, where, and the cost to adopt a rez dog. 

If you’re not quite ready to adopt or you like the idea of helping animals on a temporary basis, you could consider fostering a pet. Fostering helps socialize dogs and cats and gives them a loving home while waiting for their forever home. And it helps create space in animal rescues for other pets to have shelter and care. 

In addition to adopting or fostering one of these pets, you can help this organization—and organizations like it—continue to do great work by donating to the cause. There’s a significant financial burden to house, feed, and physically care for shelter dogs and cats. By donating to these shelters, you are joining the cause and helping save the lives of hundreds of thousands of pets. 

And, of course, an effective way to help any great cause is by telling your friends and sharing about it on social media. The more we can get the word out about organizations and efforts like this, the more people join the cause!

Adopt a Rez Dog Today!

If you’re ready to find your new rez dog, cat, or even farm animal, check out this link to meet the Nuzzle Pals that are available for adoption. This organization will help you find your new, special furbaby and provide you with the resources needed to properly care for the latest addition to your family. 

Looking for more articles about the life of dogs, dog-friendly activities, and pet-parenting advice? Check out the Blog at