If you’ve been thinking about getting a dog you have likely come across the question “are mixed breed dogs healthier?” at least once. It’s a common question, and a topic that has been the center of heated debates among dog owners for years. The whole purebred vs mixed breed debacle is, honestly, fairly pointless, and both sides have a little truth.
The fact of the matter is that mixed-breed dogs are not always healthier than purebred dogs, and purebreds are not always as healthy as mixed pups. Why? Well, it has a little to do with genetics and proper breeding practices and ethics. In this article, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about the health of mixed-breed dogs. Are mixed breed dogs healthier, and how would you even know your dog is mixed breed?
What is a Mixed Breed Dog?
The terms “cross breed” and “mixed breed” are often used interchangeably, but the truth is that they mean different things. A crossbreed tends to only have two different breeds in their DNA, whereas a mixed breed has an amalgamation of breeds that make them their unique selves - often multiple breeds.
For example, a “Labradoodle” is a crossbreed. These dogs are a cross of Labs and poodles. They tend to be very friendly and cuddly.
It’s important to do your research before getting a dog, since different dog breeds have different personalities.
A mixed breed dog doesn’t have distinct parentage, and their origins are usually completely unknown and undocumented.
These days, many dog owners choose to ‘rescue’ a dog, where it’s completely unknown what mix of breeds their dog is.
This is why so many owners of mixed breed dogs get a DNA test for dogs to discover what breeds their dog is a mix of, and discover more about their personality. A great dog DNA test is the CirclePaw DNA test for dogs.
Some people who didn’t get their dog from a dog adoption agency, and rather used a breeder, might even end up surprised when they get a DNA test for dogs. This is because breeders don’t always tell the truth.
Crossbreeds almost always have documented parentage and lineage of the two breeds that were used to make them.
Are Mix Breed Dogs Healthier than Purebred Dogs?
The big question - are mixed breed dogs healthier - is one that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. There are plenty of mixed dogs that are healthier than their purebred counterparts, but there are also a lot of purebred dogs that are just as healthy as mixed ones.
What is it that makes people think mixed breed dogs are healthier? Well, there can be quite a few genetic disorders in purebred dogs, many of which become prevalent in specific breeds. For example, purebred Dachshunds are much more likely to suffer from spinal issues that can be fatal in later life, and flat-faced breeds have terrible breathing issues.
This all stems from poor breeding over the years, the commercialisation of specific dog breeds, and a lacking genetic pool as a result of extensively selective breeding. Studies found that there are some genetic disorders and health issues that are more likely to occur in purebred dogs.
However, the same study found that there are even more health issues that are exactly the same between purebred and mixed-breed dogs. This is because things like hip dysplasia aren’t always breed-specific. Just as all humans are at risk of certain conditions, so are dogs.
Dogs share a strong genetic bond across breeds because they are descended from what is likely to be a handful of wolf lines. While these lines have expanded and separated over the thousands of years that we have lived with and bonded with dogs, it explains why there are health conditions that are shared across all breeds as opposed to them all being isolated.
The issue is that bad breeders pick dogs for breeding based on their appearance rather than the results of their health tests.
We have commercialized the image of so many dog breeds to the point that their health has become secondary to their appearance.
This is also why you see more problems in the dogs that are marketed as “ideal” as opposed to other lesser-known breeds.
What this means is that mixed-breed dogs are not always healthier than purebred ones. While mixed pups are generally considered to be in better health because they are at a lower risk of certain disorders, the genetic pool of any dog plays a major role. It’s all about being careful about who you buy a purebred puppy from and understanding that mixed dogs can get sick too.
Can You Trust a Breeder? How to Know a Purebred Breeder is Reputable
Adopting or ‘rescuing’ a dog doesn’t work for everyone, and there is nothing wrong with buying a purebred puppy as long as you are purchasing them from a reputable breeder. How do you know that your chosen breeder is a good one? Well, we’re glad you asked.
Good breeders have waiting lists, and they don’t breed for profit. Puppies are expensive, especially after vet bills, food, and vaccinations, and the majority of breeders make little to no profit off each pup they sell.
Your puppy should also come with their first set of vaccinations and have been wormed and flea treated before you take them home. Additionally, they should be sent home with some of the food the breeder has been feeding them so that they can transition between foods.
The parents should have health tests, which includes genetics tests as well as hip, elbow, and eye scores. These tests should be available to you on request, and most breeders will have the test results from the entire line on both the sire and the dam’s sides for you to browse through.
When committing to a puppy, you should not have to pay a deposit, and you should be able to visit the pups with their mother at the breeder’s home at least once before you pick them up to take home with you. The breeder should also ensure you sign a contract, which stipulates that you will care for the dog and return them to the breeder should you ever want to give them up.
Good breeders actually care about their dogs, and that is an important distinction that has to be made. Many of them are registered with the kennel club, and the health tests on the parents are one of the most important aspects to remember when choosing a breeder to go with.
So, are mixed breed dogs healthier? The answer is that they are sometimes healthier than a purebred dog, especially if it’s a breed known for genetic health conditions, but if you want a purebred dog it’s very possible to get one that is healthy and has a lower risk of genetic cancer risk, disease or illness. You just have to ensure you select a reputable breeder. It doesn’t matter if you choose a mixed breed dog or a purebred as long as you give them a loving home.
If you have a mixed breed dog, why not get a DNA test from CirclePaw? The results will give you a deeper insight into which breeds make up your unique best friend as well as any potential genetic risks to their health that you might encounter in the future. It’s the perfect way to stay on top of your dog’s health.
- NCBI, DachsLife 2015: an investigation of lifestyle associations with the risk of intervertebral disc disease in Dachshunds:
- NCBI, Prevalence of inherited disorders among mixed-breed and purebred dogs: 27,254 cases (1995-2010):