For a long time, there has been a stigma in the dog-owning world that regard mixed breed dogs as inferior to purebred dogs. This could not be any further from the truth, but over the years it has resulted in an enormous amount of crossbred dogs to be abandoned, discarded, and dumped at animal shelters. About 3/4 of the dogs in shelters across the U.S. are blended breed dogs, so there are more than enough shelter dogs in need of homes. The whole aversion to mixed breed dogs has decreased drastically in recent years because people found out there are actually quite a few advantages to owning a “mutt” rather than a purebred. Here are some reasons why crossbreeds may be more desirable than you thought:
- Purebred dogs are stubborn – These breeds were kept “pure” for the specific characteristics that they embody, usually related to assisting humans in hunting or farming. If you have a purebred dog that was ingrained with hunting behaviors, then your dog will (unsurprisingly) exhibit hunting tendencies like chasing, catching, and possibly killing small animals. While mixed breed dogs can obviously do this as well, there is some leeway in training them to abstain from such behaviors. With purebred dogs however, the abilities that they were raised to have – whether it is hunting, herding, carting, protecting or guarding – will be almost impossible to discourage. The phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” makes a lot of sense here. Most breeds have been kept the same for hundreds of years in an effort to preserve the favorable instincts for that breed, so bad habits such as digging, barking at passersby, and nipping may be quite a nuisance to deal with. Some of the dog’s behaviors could also be misunderstood as “aggression” or “behavioral problems,” such as a Kelpie (a herding dog) nipping and biting people in an effort to “herd” them as if they were livestock. Like I said, mixed breed dogs obviously have the same traits in them as well, but the intensity is lessened by other traits in the lineage, which is a mixed gene pool from many ancestries that potentially involve several breeds.
- Predictable traits in purebreds can require extra care – Not only will the behavioral aspects of your purebred dog be pretty much set in stone, but its physical attributes will also be absolute. This can include the amount of shedding that the breed will undoubtedly exhibit, the size it will most likely be when it reaches adulthood, and any health issues specific to that breed. For instance,”flat faced” breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs have difficulty breathing because of their facial structure, and Chihuahuas often have luxating platella syndrome (kneecap slipping out of place) that may require a surgery to correct. Other purebred dogs are naturally at risk for heart problems, joint issues, and even anxiety disorders. Why are these unfavorable genes still hanging out in the gene pool? Well, if the dog breed’s purity was kept in tact to save the “useful” behavioral traits, then the not-so-useful traits have been preserved as well. If a dog is a mixture of breeds however, these unhealthy genes aren’t as dominant, which drastically lessens the chance of your dog having the difficulties associated with its breed(s).
- Mixed breed dogs are generally healthier – As stated, the gene pools of purebred dogs have been kept constant for many years, which means that the ailments and disorders related to the breed have also been kept constant. While some breeders have tried their best to not breed such dogs which health issues, the genetic material is still there. In fact, many irresponsible breeders (which is my next point) breed two dogs together regardless of their health history, because they are only concerned with the money they will make by selling the puppies. When two dogs of the same breed are bred together, their similar genetic material combines, and the “bad genes” pretty much double their intensity and become more dominant. Purebred dogs for this reason have a significantly higher chance of having joint and bone disorders, congestive heart failure, cancer, epilepsy, and a myriad of other health issues. Dogs that are a combination of many breeds have these “bad genes” scattered across many more different gene pools, so these genes are muted and show themselves less frequently.
- Irresponsible breeding hasn’t helped purebreds’ health history – Because of the huge popularity of certain purebred dogs, they have unfortunately become valuable commodities. This has not only resulted in over breeding, but also irresponsible breeding – especially among “backyard breeders” and puppy mills. Backyard breeders and puppy mills are notorious for cramming dozens – if not hundreds – of animals in small cages and confined quarters with the bare minimum of survival necessities. Neglect runs rampant among these “breeders” and the animals suffer as a result. Inbreeding also is very common, due to the convenience and ease of breeding blood-related dogs at a rapid rate for massive profit. Inbreeding of purebred animals not only maximizes the health concerns that the breed already possesses, but it exacerbates them and even creates new diseases, disorders, and deformities. When combined with the extreme neglect, there are bound to be problems with the end result – which is usually a dog that suffers from malnutrition, trauma (due to mistreatment and horrible conditions) bone and muscle issues (due to lack of exercise), and a host of other tragic afflictions. Because over 95% of pet stores purchase their dogs from puppy mills, the dog you pay an exorbitant amount for (because it’s purebred) will most likely have a lot of health issues down the road, if not sooner. Here is an excellent article written by Best Friends about why you shouldn’t “rescue” a dog from a pet store.
While everyone is entitled to their own opinion and preference, I strongly encourage you to choose a mixed breed dog from an animal shelter or rescue. Not only will you be extremely happy with your new friend, but you will be saving its life – which will likely be longer and healthier than if it was a purebred. By promoting adoption and rescue, you will be discouraging the unnecessary breeding of purebred dogs and the neglect, mistreatment, and health problems that come with it. On this National Mutt Day, I ask you to acknowledge the benefits of owning blended dog breeds, and reflect on the role that you play in this complex system – which involves the breeding, selling, rescuing, adopting, and owning of dogs. At the very least, give your crossbred dog some extra love today and embrace their mutt-ness!