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Purebreds Versus Mutts: Is One Healthier Than the Other?

Purebreds Versus Mutts: Is One Healthier Than the Other? – Thanks for reading this article. We want to ensure your pet lives a healthy long life. Tuscawilla Animal Hospital which proudly serves Winter Springs, Casselberry, Oviedo, and the great Seminole County Florida area wants to share ideas and thoughts on having your pet live its best life – enjoy!

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“Mutts are healthier than purebreds.” Maybe you’ve heard that before or maybe you are hearing this for the first time. Either way, you might be wondering – where did that idea come from, and what is the truth of the matter? In blog article will cover answering this question as well as plenty of other ones too.

What is a Purebred?

Purebred are those animals that have been bred up to purebred status as a result of using full-blood animals to cross with an animal of another breed. The breeders association rules the percentage of full blood genetics required for an animal to be considered purebred, usually above 87.5%.

Dogs whose parents and ancestors belong to the same breed are referred to as purebred dogs. In other words, the five generations appear to belong to the same family tree and confirm a specific breed standard. Again, dogs with above 87.5% of full-blood genetics are qualified as purebred.

So therefore a purebred is carefully (sometimes not so carefully) bred for specific traits to improve what kennel clubs established as “breed standards”. The result was that purebred dogs were often bred from a small gene pool, which had the unintended result of inherited problems—like congenital heart disease or hip issues—becoming rampant in the breed.

Is a Designer Dog Consider To Be A PureBred?

Today, we have a type of dog called “designer dogs,” or dogs that are intentionally crossbred. Hybrid dogs, often called designer dog breeds, are the results of controlled cross-breeding between two purebred dogs. The theory is that crossing two (or more) purebred dogs will create a healthier dog because you are again enlarging the gene pool.

Thus, a designer breed combines the best of both worlds. Registered, pure dog breeds are “mixed” on purpose to create designer breeds. The intentional mixing of breeds optimizes the best characteristics of each parent.

Here is a shortlist of some of the many popular designer dogs available for pet owners to acquire.

  • Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever + Poodle)
  • Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever + Poodle)
  • Puggle (Pug + Beagle)
  • Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel + Poodle)
  • Schnoodle (Poodle + Schnauzer)
  • Goldador (Golden Retriever + Labrador Retriever)
  • Yorkipoo (Yorkshire Terrier + Poodle)
  • Maltipoo (Maltese + Miniature Poodle)

But here’s the conundrum: Are designer dogs mutts? Technically speaking, yes, and calling them such is insulting to some people, as the term has come to have a negative connotation. It simply means that the dog’s parents were not registered and both parents are not of the same breed. Now considering that 5 generations of breeding can turn a designer dog into a purebred dog is where it gets interesting.

What is a Mutt?

Simply mutts are dogs of questionable parentage that were usually accidentally conceived. Because mutts are a conglomeration of traits, they tend to be more laid-back in temperament and, therefore, less demanding They can also be easier to train than their purebred counterparts and more adaptable to an owner’s activity level and lifestyle. Overall, mixed breed dogs are smarter than purebred dogs. Mixed dogs scored 463 and purebred dogs scored 417.

Since mutts were bred from a much more diverse group, it was thought that they escaped the fate of these “inbred” puppies. Thus, a great debate was born. Which type of dog is the healthiest?

Again, a “mutt” is a dog with parents that are not of the same breed, usually bred without intention. And that’s why designer dog breeders take issue with the term. Why? Designer breed dogs have 2 breeds in their genetic make-up, while mutts have sometimes even more than 3, 4, or more breeds in them.

So designer dog breeders argue that they are not breeding mutts but with great intent, creating mixed breeds with the goal of breeding dogs with specific traits, just as purebred breeders are.

Breeders can love a certain breed but are unable to own a dog of that breed because of allergy issues. They thus have the goal of breeding dogs that retain some of the personality traits of the original breed, while also trying to make the offspring hypoallergenic. Some pet owners and breeders argue that they are in the process of creating a healthier breed.

Purebreds Versus Mutts: Is One Healthier Than the Other?

What Factors May Determine Health when Breeding?

When you cross two breeds, the hope is that you cut in half the chances of the puppies inheriting a genetic disorder. In reality, though, the health issues could be doubled. Poodles and Labradors share some of the same inherited disease risks, so breeding them together can result in some affected labradoodle puppies if the parents both carry, say, the hip dysplasia or epilepsy gene.

Historically, it appears that when any breed gains popularity and becomes hugely desirable. Therefore, breeding demand increases and the quality control decreases. Where do you see quality control go out the window entirely?

Well, puppy mills. These unethical breeders will use dogs with heritable defects with the sole intent to produce volumes of puppies. This adds to purebreds having the reputation of poorer health than mutts.

Still, reputable breeders of both purebred and designer dogs will argue that, due to the easy access to genetic testing, they are able to exclude dogs from their breeding programs that carry genetic diseases and, therefore, can theoretically guarantee a healthy dog.

And that’s where things get hairy—or furry—because there are so many purebred dogs that live long, healthy lives and others that inherit diseases. It comes down to quality control before starting the breeding process.

Now at the same time, there are also so many mutts that live long, healthy lives and others that inherit diseases. Many veterinary experts say, based on the number of dogs they treat, that mutts are more robust and are seen less often for inherited disorders.

Here is why, due to genetic mixing, mutts are less likely to have such genetic defects since mixed breed dogs are less likely to inherit a problem caused by a recessive gene, meaning that the issue will never become a health problem. This is commonly seen in supermutts.

What is a Supermutt?

Supermutts are dogs that come from generations of mutts breeding together. So these dogs descend from other dogs that were themselves mixed breed. These other dogs can give small contributions to the ancestry of your dog, so small that they are no longer recognizable as any one particular breed. Hence, the name ‘Supermutt’.

What Does Breeding Research and Experience Tell Us?

Many veterinarians share that Brachycephalic syndrome is a very severe congenital disorder that can cause a range of issues throughout a dog’s life. Researchers have found that this condition can be found in less than a handful of times in mutts. Yet, it is normally found to some degree in every single pug, French bulldog, and English bulldog.

Another similar example would be King Charles Cavalier Spaniels and mitral valve endocardiosis. Endocardiosis means the degeneration of the heart valves. It is the most common form of heart disease in dogs, especially small and medium dogs of any breed. However, King Charles Cavalier Spaniels are virtually guaranteed to get this disease by 8-10 years of age.

Unfortunately, there are also instances of diseases that are found almost exclusively in purebred dogs. Case in point, von Willebrand’s disease in Doberman pinschers. Researchers attempted to study the veterinary records of over 90,000 purebred and mixed breed dogs from the University of California–Davis in 2013. The researchers found that, out of 24 genetic disorders found in over 27,000 dogs, 10 of them were found significantly more often in purebred dogs.

Ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments were found more often in mixed breed dogs. Regarding the other 13 genetic disorders, researchers did not find that there was a great deal of difference between the two groups of dogs. So, their conclusion was that purebreds aren’t always unhealthier.

Which Have Better Health Chances?

Many dog experts disagree with this conclusion and even the test subjects. After all, it’s nearly impossible to compare dogs to…even other dogs. Were their parents genetically healthy? Are they overweight, which can contribute to some disorders such as intervertebral disk disease? What kind of care did the dogs receive? Did the dog come from a puppy mill or a certified AKC breeder? Some say purebreds are more likely to receive veterinary care and thus have genetic diseases diagnosed in greater quantities.

If that characterization were true, could it be why some vets typically see healthier mutts compared to purebreds? We can speak from our own experience that we have a large population of dog patients that receive excellent care from their pet parents. So again, it’s hard to say who is correct. Yet, mixed breeds tend to end up in rescues and shelters more often, which is why they can suffer from a higher percentage of fear-based behavior problems and socialization issues, which is a concern for many pet owners. Thus causing a mutts health to suffer.

What we can determine in this great debate is that mixed breed and purebred dogs all need love and a home to call their own. The choice of a purebred, mutt, supermutt, designer dog, or mixed-breed dog is up to each individual to decide. Whatever your choice, whether a mutt or purebred, we are here for you and your dog to help ensure they live the longest, healthiest, happiest life possible.

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Purebreds Versus Mutts: Is One Healthier Than the Other?

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