Animatch Blog

Purebred or Marvellous Mix?

Written by: Judie Amyot

Originally published in The Suburban

During my eleven years as an Animatch volunteer, I have met many different people at our meet and greets who have varying opinions on what the perfect dog is. We volunteers are always asked what types of dogs are attending our events and we do our best to properly identify the breeds. Identification is not always easy for us as many dogs come to us as strays or without a breed history. Yet we are frequently asked if our dogs are purebred by potential adopters as they admit they are looking for canine perfection with regards to personality and behaviour. The dog must not bark, not jump up, not have accidents in the house, not be aggressive, walk perfectly on leash and already be self trained so there is minimal effort needed in moulding the perfect companion. Some people believe that only a purebred dog can possess all these qualities and won’t give a mixed breed a chance, yet anyone who has adopted a mixed breed knows they can also make perfect canine companions.

So, really, is one better than the other? Many believe that purebred dogs are superior because they come from a long line of pure, traceable ancestry that provides polished, documented pedigrees. Mixed breeds do not and as a result, many believe they are inferior. This line of reasoning fails to take into account the many drawbacks of breeding and the detriment breeding can bring to a dog’s health and overall well being — not to mention how breeding contributes to the alarming overpopulation of dogs. This is a problem that shelters and rescues have been dealing with for a long time.

There is nothing wrong with having a preference for a specific breed of dog. However, purebred dogs do not necessarily conform to the breed characteristics you might expect of them and you may be in for some serious disappointment when a purebred dog behaves like the individual he or she is. Also, they aren’t necessarily likely to be healthier and may have medical ailments and genetically inherited diseases that are quite common in certain breeds.
Mutts are often hardier since they are likely to have a lower risk for receiving a high dose of specific purebred genetic material that can lead to inherited disease. This translates into a lower rate of hip dysplasia, certain knee, most spinal and many heart diseases plus a variety of cancers and many skin, blood, brain, liver and kidney diseases, among others.

However, genetics is only one of the factors to be considered in the mutt vs. purebred discussion. In acquiring a purebred, you are most likely getting an eight-week-old pup, who, at that age, is best able to absorb socialization cues that will stay with him or her for life. Mixed breeds tend to end up in shelters and rescues more often than purebreds and can suffer from a higher percentage of fear-based behaviour problems. Puppy mill dogs factor highly in this scenario, however, they are by no means lost causes and simply require more time and patience to be trained. Sadly, euthanasia is often the solution of choice when serious or aggressive behavioural issues cannot be corrected to ensure the safety of the adoptive family or anyone who comes into contact with the dog.

Often, cost is a factor when deciding which type of dog to get. A mixed breed dog acquired from a shelter or rescue is usually less expensive than a purebred, unless it was intentionally bred to produce a new breed such as a Puggle (Pug-Beagle) or Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever-Poodle), for example. Breeders have the advantage of being able to advise prospective owners as to what they can expect in regards to size, behaviour and health. With a mixed breed puppy, not being entirely sure of the actual mix, it can be difficult to tell if it will grow to be a small or large dog and you may end up with a dog that is entirely unsuitable for you.
Both mixed breeds and purebreds have their own pros and cons but in the end, how your dog turns out depends entirely on how you raise it. Breed alone does not determine the final outcome and if you are simply looking for a loyal companion, it doesn’t matter which you choose. All breeds need discipline and training in order to grow into intelligent and well-trained dogs. With the firm and loving guidance of a committed owner, almost any kind of dog can become the reliable and loving companion you are looking for.

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