Being in the doghouse now has a new—and much more magical—meaning for the pups at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando shelter! Just in time for the twentieth anniversary of the much-beloved Harry Potter series, the shelter is sorting their dogs into the four houses of its “Pawgwarts” kennels, based upon their personality, behaviour, abilities, and interests. Those familiar with the enduring series will instantly know if they’d like their future canine to belong in Gryffindog, Ravenpaw, Hufflefluff, or Slobberin House.

While the whimsy is undeniable, there is a practical purpose behind the sorting—the shelter is hoping that the move will encourage people to adopt based on personality and lifestyle match rather than breed. Dogs of the same breed can have vastly different personality types and exercise needs and, as in the case of bully breeds, breed misconceptions can lead to discrimination and stigma. Furthermore, research has proven that the visual identification of breed is incorrect more than 70 percent of the time but still leads to unfortunate stereotyping. Because of this, many shelters, including Pet Alliance, have removed breed labels entirely.

Now, Pet Alliance has taken it to the next level with their Harry Potter-inspired initiative designed to encourage potential adopters to be less breed-focused and instead focus on finding a match for their own habits, activity level, health, and interests when looking to adopt a new dog.

To do so, the shelter is highlighting individual canine traits that demonstrate characteristics associated with each ‘doghouse’ and grouping their dogs accordingly. In the Harry Potter series, new Hogwarts students take turns donning the tattered-yet-wise Sorting Hat to see into their character and decide which house best suits them. Gryffindor—the house of protagonist Harry—values bravery, daring, and chivalry. Ravenclaw members demonstrate intelligence, wit, and knowledge. Hufflepuffs are hardworking and venerate loyalty, patience, and friendship. And Slytherin, often seen as the most villainous house, values ambition, cunning, and resourcefulness in its house members.

In real life Orlando, instead of using a Sorting Hat (although, that would be super cute!), the imaginative Pet Alliance shelter team came up with activities to run and cues to look for when deciding which house an adoptable dog belongs in. How the dogs play with toys, interact with others, the speed at which they pick up new tricks, and more all indicate traits that go toward deciding which house to place the pup. For example, if a dog is quick to pick up commands and obedience cues—that’s a Ravenpaw, through and through. Super-friendly, laid back, affectionate, and just happy to be alive? Hufflefluff, for sure. Athletic dogs who aren’t afraid to try new things would fit right in with the Gryffindogs, while a determined alpha with great problem solving skills would be a Slobberin.

While this process is not based on any scientific studies, the shelter is finding it very effective. Not only is it helping to eliminate breed stigma, it’s helping their dogs find a perfect-match forever home. Curious what group your own dog belongs in? Join more than 90,000 dog owners and take the quiz for yourself at