So many people are passionate about dogs, and why shouldn’t they be. Dogs are the best! When you ask for advice on whether you should get a Pure Breed, Cross Breed or Mixed Breed you will often find passionate advocates for each. Try posting these questions on facebook dog group and watch the comments fly past! In this post, we will lay out the information you need to make the best decision for you and your family.
We are assuming that you have already decided to get a dog. If you are still trying to decide, then this “Should We Get a Dog?” post will help. Also related is the decision on should you rescue a dog or not.
A background on Dog Breeds
Dogs are the most varied animal species on the planet, and we have bred them to be that way. To think that Chihuahua’s and Great Danes are the same species and all dogs come from the same wolf-like ancestor. Dogs are the first species that we domesticated. We have been changing them for thousands of years. Most breeds have been created in the last 200 years. There is estimated to be more than 400 recognised breeds in the world. Breeds are created when a number of dogs with the same characteristics, reproduce true to type for multiple generations. The breed is then described by a National Kennel Club and is then considered fixed. Some breeds also lose favour and become extinct. To decide if you want a Pure Breed, Cross Breed or Mixed Breed it is important to learn about each one.
Both parents of a pure breed, also have to be pure breeds themselves. This closed genetic pool has benefits and drawbacks. The dogs of a breed will look very similar in size, shape and colour, as well as share temperament traits and behaviours. This means you know what you are getting. A good breeder will know about the health issues of the breed and use tools like genetic testing to try to counter the typical health faults. They still are constrained to only using purebred parents and conforming to the breed standard.
On the downside, you can still end up with squish-faced dogs and breathing issues, Bernese Mountain Dogs that have double the cancer rate of dogs in general, and King Charles Cavaliers where 70% end up with brains too big for the heads. There is research in the US that estimates 25% of purebreds have serious genetic diseases. From Sweden, there is research that pure breeds generally have more health problems. Danish research shows that Pure breeds live on average 1-2 years less than Mixed Breeds. Pure Breed breeders can be members of peak bodies like Dogs Victoria that manage the registration and have codes of conduct. They are often from $1000-$3000, but it depends on the supply/demand of the individual breed. French Bulldogs, for example, are more in the $4000-$10,000 range.
Cross Breeds are the intentional first crossing of two different pure breeds. These have been gaining popularity and are also called designer breeds. Particularly popular are all the Poodle crosses like the Moodle/Maltipoo(Poodle X Maltese) for their non-shedding traits. Cross Breeds are marketed as having the best of both breeds and the drawbacks of neither. Puggles(Pug x Beagles) hopefully reduces the breathing issues Pugs have and tempers the headstrong nature of Beagles. Hopefully, you don’t end up with bad features from both, but it is generally accepted they are on average slightly healthier.
The CrossBreed genetic pool is bigger. So the variation between even puppies in the same litter is significantly more significant than Pure Breeds. So there is a bit more of a gamble as to the exact mix of the two parents you are getting, and their health comes done once again to a good breeder. They are generally in the $1000-$3000 range.
Mixed Breeds are everything else! Bitsa, mongrel, or mutt, you get to choose your term of endearment. They are on average healthier and live longer. If you don’t know the parents it is hard to know what a size a puppy will grow to, how much it will shed, drool or what behaviours and temperament to expect. Mystery can be exciting. Rescues start around $400, and purchases generally top out at $6-800. In this case, it is about choosing a good rescue that does health and behaviour screening before allowing adoption. They may also foster dogs out to get to understand them better first.
Genetics is not everything
What is common across Pure Breed, Cross Breed or Mixed Breed is the importance of choosing a good breeder or rescue. We will go into this in our next article in the series of Getting a Dog.
From this, you might get the perception that genetics is everything. It is a huge factor in health, but so is a good diet, a healthy weight, appropriate exercise and mental stimulation. When it comes to behaviour, sure there are some instincts, but most is learned. It is essential to spend time training your dog in what is acceptable behaviour and building a positive bond to enjoy the best life together. Whether you choose a Pure Breed, Cross Breed or Mixed Breed you can end up with a healthy, happy and loving companion.