A purebred dog is a dog with a documented pedigree in a stud book. This means they are part of a long ancestry of dogs who share similar physical and behavioural characteristics that were carefully selected for and which must be met by their descendants. These dogs can be registered with a breed club that may also be part of a national kennel club, and can take part in breed competitions. Cross breeds and mixed breeds, however are very different!
What are cross breed dogs?
A cross breed is a mix between two purebred dogs. The resulting offspring is a dog which is referred to today as a ‘designer dog’. Cross breeding existing breeds was first started in the hopes of combining the positive points of purebreds together, so as to make a “perfect” offspring. For example, Labradors were crossed with Poodles in the hopes of creating a friendly but hypoallergenic dog.
Most of the time though, it’s hard to know exactly how a cross breed will turn out. Despite this, they have become extremely popular because of their adorable looks. Popular examples of cross breeds include the Puggle, the Goldendoodle, and the Cavapoo, to name a few. If you are thinking of purchasing a cross breed, make sure they are first generation (both parents are indeed a purebred). Second or third generations can suffer from many more health issues due to a reduced gene pool.
What are mixed breed dogs?
A mixed breed dog is a mix between more than two breeds. Many rescue dogs are mixed breeds because they descend from multiple random pairings. Some pet owners DNA test their dogs to find out exactly what breeds are in their mix. And more often than not, they are surprised with the results!
What are the disadvantages of cross breed or mixed breed dogs?
If you’re not interested in purchasing a purebred, then you can adopt a cross or mixed breed dog. Nonetheless, you’ll have to do a lot of research before taking that step.
It’s hard to know what to expect
With purebreds, there’s so much information available out there: how easily it will be trained, how much it will shed, how it’ll act around kids, etc. But with cross and mixed breeds, it’s more of a gamble. With cross breeds, you can base yourself on information regarding the parent breeds, but with mixed breeds, chances are even a DNA test won’t be able to help you out! That’s why mixed breeds aren’t always recommended for first time owners. That’s not to say they can’t be perfectly behaved and well trained - but it’ll be harder to know that in advance.
The same, of course, goes for physical characteristics. If you’re desperate to find a certain size of dog, then maybe a cross or mix isn’t a good choice for you. Even when you know what the parent breeds were, there are no guarantees when it comes to mixes!
What are the advantages of cross breed or mixed breed dogs?
Though there are some things to consider before purchasing a cross or mix, there are also many benefits to them!
A variety of looks and personalities
There’s already a lot of looks to choose from in the purebred dog world, but when you add cross and mixed breeds, the possibilities are endless! Usually, you’ll end up with original and unique-looking dogs, which is a plus. With a cross breed, you can more or less guess what your puppy will look like as an adult by looking at the physical characteristics of both parent breeds. However, adopting a mixed breed means there’s no way to know exactly what your pup will look like as an adult. Paw size, however, can be a good indicator of their future body size.
There are so many possibilities in terms of personality too. Imagine, when you cross a Pug with a Beagle, you get the laid-back Pug side but also the active, outdoorsy Beagle side. When you cross a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle, you get the adorable Cocker face, but the intelligence and trainability of the Poodle - it’s the best of both worlds!
Because dogs of the same breed mate together to keep their lines pure, their gene pool is very small. This means that bad breeding or over breeding can cause a lot of genetic disorders (both physical and behavioural). For example, excessive breeding of the Golden Retriever has caused many issues in the breed, including hip dysplasia, liver disorders, cancer, and in some cases, mouthiness! This is one of the many reasons why getting a purebred from a reputable breeder is so important.
However, if you opt for a cross breed or mixed breed, the gene pool is much larger! So the chances of your dog inheriting a genetic disease is much lower (especially so for mixed breed dogs who are even more genetically diverse). Cross and mixed breeds as a whole suffer from less behavioural issues and health problems than their purebred counterparts.
As a direct result of what was mentioned above, cross and mixed breed dogs tend to live a lot longer than purebreds. In fact, the health of the dog is often what encourages people to adopt crosses or mixes. For example, Pugs are notoriously unhealthy due to their brachycephalic skulls which inhibit their breathing. However, when they are crossed with a Beagle, the offspring have longer snouts. As a result, Puggles are more comfortable breathing and are less susceptible to strokes than their Pug parent.
This is not necessarily true for the very popular cross breeds whose prices have risen with their popularity. However, most mixed breeds that you’ll find in shelters will cost a couple of hundred pounds to purchase (plus you know your money’s going to a good cause). On the other hand, purebreds can cost anywhere from £500 to £3,000 to purchase, depending on their popularity and how easy they are to breed!
The advantages of opting for a cross or mix far outweigh the disadvantages. Plus, let’s not forget that purebreds are a result of mixing many breeds together! So who knows, maybe in 100 years, the Goldendoodle will be a breed in its own right too!