Mixed Breed Dogs
Veterinarian Reviewed on July 15, 2009 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Many years ago, mixed breed dogs were the most commonly owned household dog across the world. Other names for such a dog have been ‘Heinz 57 Variety’, mutt, mongrel, tyke, cur, bitsa, and even random bred dog. In fact, different countries have their own special terminology as well. For example, in Hawaii a mixed breed dog is called a poi dog. Pot Cakes is what they are referred to in the Bahamas. South African’s refer to mixed breed dogs as ‘pavement specials’. There are a few registries and dog kennels and dog clubs in America today that prefer to use the more elite terminology of ‘All American’ when describing a mixed breed dog.
Back in those days, mutts were usually the result of a neighbor dog jumping the fence at the most inopportune time. However those mixed breed dogs came to be, does not deter from the fact that they were dearly loved and cared for by their owners.
However, there has been plenty of confusion surrounding the terms mixed-breed, pure-bred and cross-bred. Pure-bred refers to those dog breeds that have been artificially created through selective breeding by their human owners, so as to enhance a particularly desired physical or temperamental characteristic. The terminology ‘cross-bred’ refers to a dog that is the outcome of intentionally breeding two different types of pure-bred dog breeds.
Mixed-breed usually refers to a dog whose parental lineage is unknown and, because dogs are capable of breeding themselves, there is a wider variety of mixed breed dogs that have different markings, sizes, shapes, and even fur type, than there are of cross bred or pure bred dogs.
Certainly no pedigreed dog, the mixed breed dog is hardy and healthy. Usually because they were devoid of inbreeding that usually happens in purebred dogs. Inbreeding of purebred dogs over a few generations usually means that certain genes, good or bad, will be continually carried into the next generation of dogs. This has been the cause of most major health concerns that are commonly found in pure bred dogs.
Since a mixed-bred dog is created to be more genetically diverse, with the unplanned mating of its parents, it is less likely to have certain genetic disorders because of a lower chance that both of its parents actually carried such a gene. However, this does not necessarily mean that the breeding of two different types of dogs will lead to a healthy puppy. Sadly, most of the puppies will actually inherit the worst genes of both of his parents and is mostly commonly seen in pet store puppies or puppies that have come from puppy mills.
On a good note, however, a study conducted in Germany found that: “Mongrels require less veterinary treatment”.
A Swedish study revealed that: “Mongrel dogs are less prone to many diseases than the average purebred dog” and that, “Mongrels were consistently in the low risk category” in reference to the death rates amongst all dogs in general.
An additional study reported that: “The median age at death was 8.5 years for all mixed breed dogs and 6.7 years for all pure breed dogs. For each weight group, the age at death of pure breed dogs was significantly less than for mixed-breed dogs”.
There are four basic classification types of mixed breed dogs:
* Crossbred dogs, which is the crossing of two different, but recognized or purebred dog breeds. Such examples would be the deliberate mating of a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle in order to have Cockapoo puppies. Cross breeding can also occur when some unscrupulous breeder try to create new dog breeds. Although it is good to remember, that the majority of cross breeding happens quite accidently.
* A mixed-bred dog that shows the characteristics of two or more distinctive breeds. Such dogs may have purebred ancestry or stem from a long line of mixed breeds. Either way, these dogs are identified by the breed that they resemble the most, like a ‘Lab mix’.
* A generic Pariah dog, such as the Canaan Dog. These dogs are the result of non-selective breeding that has occurred over the course of many generations. Simply put, these mixed breed dogs are descended from wild or feral dogs and are usually light brown in color with medium height and weight. DNA tests have since proven that the genes of a pariah dog are more ancient than that of our modern day mixed breed dogs.
* Purpose-bred dogs, such as the Alaskan Husky, are pedigreed dogs that have been chosen because of their outstanding performance at a particular task, such as dog-sledding. Since there is usually not a lot of dissimilarity between a “mix” and a “breed” with purpose-bred dogs, they eventually become accepted as their own, specific breed over time.
Photo Credit: madaise
Sign up for our newsletter and receive more articles and the latest pet health updates and special offers.
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan