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Which canine do you prefer? Mixed or Purebred dog breeds? 

This question has sparked many debates since some pet lovers and breeders believe that mixed breeds are better while others disagree.

And the fact that you're here means you're probably going through the same dilemma. 

But, if you want to know:

  • What is a mixed and purebred dog
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of purebreds and mixed breeds
  • And how to choose the right type of dog for you

This article can help you weigh in the best dog option for you that fits your needs and lifestyle. 

But before we compare these two, let’s look at the current purebred and mixed breed statistics in the US.

Dogs on a meadow

Mixed or Purebred Dog Breeds- What Stats About Dog Ownership Shows

A survey conducted by APPA or the American Pet Products Association in 2019-2020 revealed that 50% of the US population owns a dog. 

The leading source where they obtained a canine is from an animal shelter (19%), breeder (19%), and friend or relative (18%). 

The results also showed that 56% of dogs are pure breed and 51% are mixed breed.  

But what is the difference between a purebred and mixed dog? 

Purebred dog breed

What are Purebred Dogs?

A purebred dog is any canine whose parents are of the same breed. 

They should be registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and have documented proof that their mother and father belong to the same breed.

If it has papers that prove their ancestors came from the same breed, the AKC will recognize your fido as a pedigreed purebred dog. 

Therefore, purebreds are products of selective breeding, which helped preserve the ideal traits of each breed. 

These traits include size, temperament, coat type, and color. 

Newer hybrids and designer dogs don’t pass this criterion. 

For example, a Goldendoodle, a crossbreed of a purebred Golden retriever and a purebred Poodle, is not an AKC-recognized purebred.

Currently, there are 197 breeds registered in the AKC. 

 

Pros and Cons of Purebred Dog Breeds

Advantages of Purebreds

For most people, predictability or consistency is the reason why they choose purebreds over mixed dog breeds. 

To know how it influences their choices, let’s dig deep into how the genes carry physical traits and behaviors.

3 Alaskan Malamute Puppies - Purebred dog breed

Predictable Physical Traits

Each breed possesses a unique set of genes that contains the desired trait, coat, color, and size of the canine. 

So, when breeders breed dogs with the desired traits, the genes that carry those traits will spread throughout that breed’s gene pool.  

That explains why their offspring look so alike. 

For example, breeding two purebred Alaskan Malamutes can make their puppies look similar to their parents and siblings.

Additionally, each breed has specific and distinct ideal traits that are helpful to humans.

Short-legged and long-bodied Dachshunds, for example, are ideal for hunting badgers and other tunneling animals and rabbits.

On the other hand, Labrador retrievers are behaviorally well-suited for detecting explosives and diseases like cancer.

It’s primarily because of their intelligence, trainability, and tireless work ethic.

Two Purebred Greyhounds running

Predictable Temperament/Behavior

Two factors influence a dog’s temperament or behavior – their environment and genes.

That means that some aspect of their behavior is inherited while others are not. 

The dog’s environment, which could refer to the way how your dog was raised and trained from its birth, can significantly affect its behavior.

However, some behavioral traits are hardwired to their genes, and they’re often hard to change.

So, if you want to avoid stress and conflicts, it would be best to choose a breed with temperament or behavior that fits your needs and lifestyle.

If you want an energetic companion, you may choose a breed that typically inherits that kind of behavior in its genes.

And if you want a canine that can help her your cattle, guard your sheep or do the police works, you can choose breeds designed for those works.

Purebred dog in a dog show

Qualified to Compete in Dog Shows

If you’re interested in competing in conformation trials or dog shows, you must know that AKC only accepts purebreds. 

That’s because the main purpose of a dog show is to preserve the integrity of the purebreds and choose the ideal specimens for dog breeds.

 

Downsides of Purebred Dog Breeds

These are the cons of having a purebred dog:

Purebred Golden Retriever Shedding Season

 

Traits You’ll Have to Live With

Many people who acquired purebred dogs complain about some of their physical traits like shedding. 

A Golden Retriever, for example, sheds heavily and needs weekly grooming and a bit of trimming. 

So, before bringing home a pup, make sure you can handle the physical traits that come along with its breed. 

You should also consider:

  • how much they shed
  • how often do you have to groom their coat and trim their nails
  • if you can provide them with ample exercise
  • or you can keep them safe

Purebred Siberian Husky barking

Working Behaviors That Are Difficult to Deal With

Most dog breeds were purposely bred to do a specific type of work. 

Some dogs like Akita were developed to be mighty hunters, while Alaskan Malamutes were for hauling heavy loads at a low speed over long distances.

Other breeds were for hunting, protecting livestock, guarding farmyards and estates, and water rescue work.

The behavioral traits that enable them to do their work include:

  • high energy level
  • barking or howling
  • desire to do some work and be active
  • suspiciousness and aggression towards other dogs and strangers

If you don’t like those traits, working dogs can be a nuisance for you. 

Keeping your hyper-active dog inside your home can make them feel frustrated, for they will not meet their high activity needs.

It can lead to behavioral and socialization issues that are hard to resolve.

Purebred's hefty vet price tag

Hefty Price Tag

Purebreds usually have higher purchasing prices. 

It can put a lot more strain on your wallet than adopting mixed breeds, especially if it has inherited some health problems. 

If your heart is more inclined to purebreds, it’s something you should put a lot of thought into because you may have to pay higher veterinary costs in the future too.

Mixed Dog Breed- Labradoodle

What is a Mixed Dog Breed?

Mixed breeds, also known as mutts or mongrels, are dogs with no pedigree and whose parents are not of the same breed.

They come in various coat types and colors, shapes, and sizes, making them unique.

Mixed dog breeds are often a result of accidental mating or breeding different purebreds or other mixed breeds. 

Although some mixed breed registries acknowledge and offer documentation to them, purebred registries usually don't recognize them.

 

Pros and Cons of Mixed Breeds

Advantages of Mixed Dog Breed

Many people prefer to adopt mixed-breed dogs in hopes of making a difference in their canine’s life. 

Rescuing or adopting a pet from shelters can also help free up their space which you can use to provide another homeless dog a home. 

By adopting a canine, you’re also taking a stand against unethical backyard breeding practices that use dogs for profit. 

But aside from that meaningful purpose, there are many more reasons why mixed breed dogs are a good option.

Mixed dog breed's unique traits

Unique Traits

Unlike purebreds who have predictable temperaments and physical traits, mixed-breed dogs tend to look and behave differently from others.

And that’s what makes them more exciting and unique from others. 

Since they’re a product of two or more different breeds, you won’t be able to guess what physical trait and temperament they will inherit predominantly. 

Mixed dog breed

Easier on the Wallet

Purebreds tend to be more pricey than mixed breeds. 

You’ll also have to face higher veterinary costs with purebreds due to their need of being spayed or neutered.

On the other hand, mutts are less expensive to own because some breeders believe that they’re not prone to genetic defects, thanks to their diverse genetic makeup.

 

Downsides of Mixed Dog Breed

These are the potential negatives that come along when you choose mixed dog breeds. 

Mixed dog breed in an agility competition

Could Not compete for Dog Shows

Since mixed dog breeds don’t have pedigrees like purebreds, they could not qualify to compete in Dog Shows designed for purebreds. 

Good thing agility competitions are open for mixed dog breeds, so you can still indulge in some sports designed for them.

Mixed dog breed downside

Could Not Excel in Specific Work

If you want a dog that can excel in herding sheep or protecting livestock or hunting, mixed breeds may not be the best choice. 

They can’t do some work purebreds are designed for or will not likely excel in those areas as much as their purebred counterparts.

 

But wait… 

You probably notice something’s lacking in our comparison between purebreds and mixed dog breeds.

If you’re thinking about their health, don’t worry, because we won’t leave that out. 

It’s one of the most common concerns of those who need to decide whether to choose mixed or purebred dog breeds. 

It’s also a common subject of debate for others believe that purebreds are more prone to hereditary disorders than mixed breeds, while others contradict that idea.

Mixed Breeds vs Purebred Dog Breeds Health

Which is healthier – Mixed Breeds or Purebred Dog Breeds?

Many people believe that mixed dog breeds are less likely to express genetic disorders.

That’s why many breeders and pet owners are jumping into the hybrid vigor in hopes of avoiding hereditary diseases. 

But what is hybrid vigor?

Hybrid Vigor

Hybrid vigor means increased resistance to disease and better health and qualities due to crossbreeding of plants or animals that are genetically different.

Therefore, it happens when you crossbreed two different species.

An example of this is mules, a mix of a horse and donkeys and ligers, which combine the features of a lion and a tiger. 

So, dog breeds like Goldendoodles, Cockapoo, and Puggles are not true hybrids.

And instead of reducing the chances of genetic disorders, breeding two different breeds can actually double up the health issues if both parents carry the disease.

Take the Labradoodle, for example, which is a cross between a Labrador and a poodle.

Both breeds have the same likelihood of having diseases like epilepsy, hip dysplasia, and Addison’s disease.

So if the mother and the sire both have disease liability genes for those conditions, their offspring will likely inherit those diseases if you’d breed them.

And as for mutts, most of them are bred accidentally, and if they’re unplanned, it’d be hard to predict the health issues that will occur to them.

But what matters more is the size of the breed’s gene pool.

 

Gene Pool Size

More than 140 AKC registered breeds in AKC in 2014, and 10 of the most popular breeds comprise more than half of the registry.

And the 100 least popular breeds are just 15% of the overall registrations. 

This ratio affects the breed’s gene pool size significantly. 

Non-famous breeds have smaller gene pools, making them more prone to recessive disorders because there’s less genetic variation. 

But a study conducted by researchers from the University of California-Davis (UC-Davis) revealed interesting results about purebreds and mixed breeds’ health and longevity.

 

The UC-Davis Study About Purebred’s and Mixed Dog Breed’s Health

UC-Davis’s research took 15 long years (1995-2010) to complete, and they studied 27,254 dogs with inherited disorders.  

They studied 24 different health problems in 5 categories, including:

  • Cancer (Lymphoma, mast cell tumor, osteosarcoma, & hemangiosarcoma)  
  • Cardiac disorders (aortic stenosis, dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, patent ductus arteriosus & ventricular septal defect) 
  • Endocrine disorders (hyperadrenocorticism, hypoadrenocorticism, & hypothyroidism)
  • Orthopedic conditions (hip and elbow dysplasia, Invertebral disk disease or IVDD, patellar luxation, and ruptured cranial cruciate ligament)
  • Other disorders (allergic dermatitis, bloat, cataracts, epilepsy, lens luxation & Portosystemic shunt)

 

Results and Conclusion from the Study

Of the 24 disorders monitored by the researchers, 13 have about the same occurrence in both purebred and mixed breeds.

And 10 of those genetic disorders are more prevalent among purebreds than in mixed breeds. They include the following:

  • Aortic stenosis
  • Bloat
  • Cataracts
  • IVDD
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Atopy or allergic dermatitis
  • Total epilepsy
  • Portosystemic shunt

 

Mixed dog breeds also experience those disorders. 

But the only disease that is more prevalent on them than the purebreds is the cranial cruciate ligament rupture. 

And the interesting thing is about 30% of mixed dog breeds may suffer from such disorder. 

Researchers hypothesized that fusing different physical conformations reduces the ligaments’ resilience. 

And that leads to higher cases of developing the disease.

Therefore, the theory that purebreds are more prone to hereditary diseases is only true for some conditions.

The good news is you can do something to avoid those health issues.

Avoiding genetic issues

How to Avoid Genetic Problems in Both Purebreds and Mixed Breeds

Here are some tips on how to avoid the genetic disorders common in both breed types:

Disease-Prevention Tip for Purebreds

It would be best to buy purebreds from reputable breeders who ensure that their breeding is free from hereditary issues.  

You’ll likely have to pay more, but the perks of having a healthy and active companion can make it worth it.

You can also evade high veterinary costs if your dog is not predisposed to the genetic disorders mentioned above.

Disease-Prevention Tip for Mixed Dog Breeds

Similar to purebreds, it would help if the breeder where you acquired your dog ran some tests before breeding.

But if you already have a mixed dog breed in your home, there’s still a way for you to know if your fido has a higher chance of inheriting a particular hereditary disease.

There are testing kits available out there that can help you quickly swab your dog’s cheek to get samples like saliva to know if diseases are hardwired into their DNA.

The best thing about such a type of kit is you can do the swab at home.

Some of the best testing kits in the market are:

  • Embark breed and ancestry identification, trait, and health detection dog DNA test kit 
  • Wisdom Panel 3.0 breed identification dog DNA test kit
  • DNA My Dog breed identification test kit 

Mixed vs Purebred dog breed

How to Choose Between Mixed Breeds and Purebred Dog Breeds 

Considering the following factors can help you choose the best type of breed for you:

LIFESTYLE

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing between a purebred and mixed breed is your lifestyle. 

Purebreds come with a hefty price, and you should plan for the medical conditions that could arise later based on breed research. 

 

SIZE OF LIVING SPACE

Since you can predict how large a purebred can grow, you’ll be able to assess if he and his lifestyle are suitable for your home. 

Those with large yards will probably do well with mixed breeds, but smaller living spaces may prefer medium or toy-sized breeds.

 

IDEAL QUALITIES

Mixed breeds and purebreds both have adorable qualities. 

But, considering the specific lifestyle and physical qualities you’re looking for can help you make the right decision. 

Mixed dog bred high five

Summary About Mixed and Purebred Dog Breeds

To sum it up, a purebred dog is ideal for you if you're…

  • looking for specific traits or characteristics in a dog
  • financially and emotionally ready to accept its potential health and behavioral problems 
  • willing to pay a significant amount to the breeders or animal shelters
  • going to acquire your pet from responsible breeders who do their best to avoid breeding those with genetic defects 

On the other hand, a mixed dog breed is a way to go if:

  • Do you want a more affordable purchase price
  • you wish to save a dog’s life
  • you’re willing to put up whatever characteristic he may have in the future when he grows up or invest time and money in training him
  • you don’t have specific requirements for their looks and skills
  • you have faith in its genetic diversity and want to protect your pup from some hereditary health problems

So, what's your final bet? Would you rather adopt mixed or purebred dog breeds?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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