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I Love Mutts: Mixed-Breed Dogs are Better Than a Purebreds

Excessive Barking, Labradors, Mixed Breed Dogs, Mixed Breeds, Purebred Dogs

For centuries, mutts have been shunned by potential owners and kennel clubs, called mongrels, curs, tykes, and my favorite term, Heinz 57s, playing on “Fifty-Seven varieties.” While many prospective pet owners prefer the status symbol of owning a purebred dog, the benefits of mixed-breed dogs far outweigh those of purebreds. There is a stigma associated with mutts due to generations of false information.

Mixed-breeds exhibit characteristics of every breed in their bloodline. Having a mutt is the best of two or more worlds. Can’t decide between a Golden Retriever and a Cocker Spaniel? Why settle for one or the other when you can very easily find and rescue an animal whose parents were a Retriever and a Spaniel for a nominal adoption fee?

Most objections about owning mixed-breed dogs have to do with their health, pet owners often opt for purebred dogs after hearing that mixed-breed dogs have more health problems and live shorter lives compared to purebred dogs. This claim is actually far from the truth. Purebred dogs are the result of generations of inbreeding, therefore, it becomes more likely each generation that a purebred dog will suffer from a condition one of its ancestors possessed in its genes. In mixed-breed dogs, because the recessive homozygotic alleles in each parent are not the same as they are from completely different genetic pools, they have what is referred to as hybrid vigor. Hybrid vigor is scientific proof that mixed-breed dogs are not less healthy than purebreds, rather their extreme difference in parentage prevents mixed breed dogs from inheriting many genetically-related health problems.

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Another objection is that mixed-breed dogs are not eligible to participate in competitions. In recent years, associations have recognized the outstanding abilities of mixed-breed dogs and have created a place for them. The Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America or MBDCA was founded in 1978 to form competitions similar to many kennel clubs’ for mixed-breed dogs. Mixed breeds are excluded from other competitions because of the wide array of physical standards they exhibit. Whereas most competitions initially evaluate dogs by strict physical standards according to breeds, the MBDCA judges participants by physical soundness, good health, and a relatively well-balanced and symmetrical appearance and all are able to participate in a variety of performance and obedience competitions. Animal Planet recently featured the story of a rescued mixed-breed dog who was recognized after adoption for her enthusiasm for jumping. She now holds the world record for the highest freestyle jump of any dog.

The only definite disadvantage of mixed-breed dogs is that it is nearly impossible to predict their adult size. The size is usually between that of both parents, but whether the dog’s size will be closer to that of the mother or the father is anyone’s guess. If the parentage is unknown, there is no way to know what size the animal will grow to. A smaller than average puppy may grow to be a large dog, and vice versa. My parents adopted a tiny, reddish brown puppy that grew to be sixty pounds! A local expert confirmed her to be part of a litter by an escaped Rhodesian Ridgeback mother and Labrador father. A mixed-breed dog’s physical appearance is like drawing a wild card. Any combination of size, color, and shape are possible and can change with age. However, since mixed-breed dogs exhibit a variety of traits based on their lineage, they can be very appealing.

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The same goes for the temperament of a mixed-breed. For example, a Labrador and Bulldog mix may be very lazy like a Bulldog and yet extremely affectionate like Labradors. Picking a dog with mixed parentage allows the owner to pick and choose what traits they want in a dog without having to breed the ideal dog themselves which makes both pet and owner extremely suitable for each other. In many ways, it is like making a stuffed animal at Build-a-Bear.

When we adopted our dog Homie, there was no telling what he would grow into. He appeared to be a Black Lab, but had an appearance that varied slightly from his purebred puppy cousins. Now almost fully grown, it’s amazing to see the results of his mixed genes. He seems to be a Black Labrador and Whippet mix, which in more ways than one have turned out beneficial to us. He is much smaller than a purebred Black Labrador, yet has the same perfect coloring and markings of a purebred. Both breeds are friendly dogs, and our dog seems to suffer the same “Excessive Greeting Disorder” as purebred Whippets. He is extremely trusting of strangers and relatively quiet as most Whippets are, yet he makes us aware of someone coming to the front door as dependable Labradors do but without excessive barking like the relatively quiet Whippet. It took him a while to get used to swimming, but his incredible Whippet speed and long, thin Whippet toes which are webbed to the tip like Labradors, make him the fastest-swimming dog I have ever seen. At the river, my husband will jump out of the raft and hold onto Homie’s tail. Homie, with a two-hundred pound man in toe swims and I paddle the raft to shore as fast as I can. Compact like a Whippet, yet with the strength of a Labrador, I predict he will win in these races within a month or so. I am truly grateful to have adopted a dog with such incredible and unique traits. Our mutt is the most loving, cuddly, dedicated, athletic and charming dog we could have ever imagined. He is very well-suited to our apartment and our lifestyle. I can’t wait to bring another mixed-breed into the family and see what he has to contribute!

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1. “Labrador Retriever,” Wikipedia.

2. Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America

3. Dogster.com

4. Soyouwanna Know Which Dog Breed Suits Your Personality?” Soyouwanna.com

5. “About Whippets,” Whippet.com