May 1st is National Purebred Dog Day, and May 2nd is Mayday for Mutts. So today, let’s learn more about the key differences between purebred and mutt (or mixed-breed) dogs, as well as the general pros and cons for each type.
Currently, there is a lack of rigorous scientific research that specifically compares the health of pure-breed dogs versus mutts. However, vets generally agree that mixed-breed dogs have a lower chance of inheriting genetic diseases, making them stronger and healthier than purebred dogs. Many mutts have lower rates of spinal disease, heart disease, and cancers, compared to purebred dogs.
Mutts tend to be more affordable than purebred dogs, especially if you choose to adopt one from a local shelter. Shelters and rescue centers might even help subsidize some additional costs, such as paying for your first vet appointment, providing vaccines and shots, or spaying/neutering the dog before you take him home with you. Plus, because mutts are more likely to be genetically healthy, you’ll also be saving on long-term medical expenses.
It can be difficult to identify exactly what mix of breeds has created a particular dog, especially if you adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue center. There’s no telling if your puppy will grow up to be a small or large dog; maybe the tiny puppy will quickly outgrow your home and backyard space. For owners living in uncertain home situations, this could be a dealbreaker.
If you adopt or purchase an older mutt, then you might have more trouble house-training them. Some dogs might be coming from a background of abuse from a previous owner, making them more anxious or aggressive. However, remember that most shelter dogs are just looking for a loving home. Furthermore, many vets agree that dogs can be trained at any age, especially if shown love and affection from their owners.
While many shelters will receive purebred dogs, it’s more common to purchase a purebred dog from a pet store, or from a breeder directly. These puppies tend to be around 8 weeks old, which is the perfect age for them to absorb socialization cues and behavioral training. This means that it can be easier to house-train a purebred dog, simply because you can control the environment around them during this crucial window of development.
Purebred dogs tend to have more predictable characteristics and personalities. This can be helpful if you have allergies, and need to find a specific breed that is compatible with your health. However, remember that dog size, fur color, hair type, and temperament can vary widely even within the same breed.
Purebred dogs tend to have more health problems and a shorter lifespan. A UC Davis study found, for example, that purebred dogs tend to have higher rates of genetic mutations and inherited diseases. This means that purebred dogs are more likely to develop bone, joint, heart, vision, and digestive problems, especially in their senior years.
While the predictability of physical characteristics is a benefit, this also means that purebred dogs are more likely to maintain characteristics from their historical lineages, when they were hunting, herding, and guarding creatures. These instincts run deep in doggy DNA, and purebred DNA hasn’t been diluted with other dog breeds. So purebred hunting dogs are more likely to engage their prowling instincts by rooting through your laundry, scratching up furniture, or bringing you dead animals from the yard.
At the end of the day, there are benefits and drawbacks to both purebred and mutt dogs. And even considering the scientific facts, it’s important to remember that every dog has their own unique personality, challenges, and quirks. Ultimately, finding a dog that suits your wants and needs is the best way to guarantee a lifetime of love and joy for both you and your pet!