More Reading Between the Petfinder Lines: Photos

Sometimes you’ll see a rescue’s listing and notice that there are really good pictures of most of the dogs, but then there are a few that are very bad. Look carefully at those bad photos. There are some really terrible dog pictures that can tip you off to an amazing dog. You just need to know how to recognize them. Here are a few to look for.

The Nose Photo

Sometimes you’ll see a picture of a dog where it looks almost like a funhouse mirror — all you see is an extreme closeup of the dog’s nose and some of their eyes. It doesn’t really give you a good idea of what the dog looks like, but you are getting a great tip-off about the dog’s personality. Dogs who repeatedly ruin photos by getting too close to the photographer tend to be human-focused and highly affectionate. If a perfectly good human is standing still, then they are not going to waste that opportunity for interaction. It’s possible the rescue took a lot of pictures of this dog, but finally gave up. Try to meet this dog if you can.

A picture of a black lab with its nose up close to the camera.
If this is the best picture you see on Petfinder, try to see past the gigantic nostrils. (Photo credit: Oakley Originals via Wikimedia Commons)

The Tail Photo

Some dogs are just so incredibly happy to have a human’s attention that NOTHING will stop them from savoring the experience. That’s how you end up with pictures of a dog’s butt on Petfinder. But that’s actually a good thing, because it means you are looking at a dog with a heart as big as a whale. Also, there is a lot of awkwardness in this dog’s body language. Chances are you are dealing with a dog who can be a huge goofball. I mean, look at this guy — he is literally contorted with delight at getting attention and affection. If you see a dog with a picture like that on Petfinder, give him or her a second look. You won’t be sorry.

A picture of a brown and black dog with its butt in the air.
Yeah, not necessarily the photo you’d want to lead with on Petfinder, but sometimes it’s what you’ve got. This dog, Smitty, was the biggest sweetheart EVER. (Photo courtesy of Hedgesville Hounds)

The Upside-Down Dog

If you ever come across a picture of a dog that is on its back, belly exposed, squirming happily, you are dealing with a shameless lovebug. Like the nose photo dog, the upside down dog wants your attention, but rather than asking for it, the upside down dog flat-out demands it.

A picture of a brown and white dog laying on its back.
This one should be obvious, but you’ve got an outgoing, shameless, extremely self-serving dog. Enjoy. (Photo courtesy of author)

The Lean-In Dog

Is this dog just tragically lazy? Not hardly. This dog is a world-class snugglehound. This dog knows how to cuddle and will take advantage of any contact with a human to get some closeness in.

A picture of a brown and white hound-type dog leaning against a person's arm.
Look at the Zen-like expression on this dog’s face. She’s in the zone. (Photo courtesy of Hedgesville Hounds)

The Accessorized Dog

Sometimes you’ll see a picture of a dog wearing a costume or dressed up in some way. Those pictures can be offputting because they look like the dog already has a home (or maybe you just aren’t interested in seeing a picture of a dog in a bee costume). However, remember this: if a dog lets you clothe it, chances are it is very tolerant and good-natured.

A picture of a scruffy brown dog dressed in leis and a "Happy New Year" crown.
If you see a picture of a fostered dog like this, know you’ve got a tolerant dog. (Photo courtesy of author)

Finally, here are a few rules of thumb for evaluating dog pictures. Ask yourself:

  • Why was this picture included?
  • What on earth is this dog doing?
  • What kind of dog behaves like this?
  • What is my gut instinct about this dog when seeing this picture?

Look carefully, and be willing to give some of these dogs the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes you can really find a diamond in the…oh yeah, I’m going for it…ruff.

By Moretta

Moretta will take that applause. Her Twitter is

7 replies on “More Reading Between the Petfinder Lines: Photos”

I love these articles, and now I really want some intensive doggy-therapy. But my husband and I fit into wayyyyy too many “you’re not ready for a dog” categories to have one. Guess it’s time to visit my sister and pet her dog (she is aware that her dog is one of the main reasons I visit her–he and I are bffs forever and ever).

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