Mixed breed dogs are dogs whose genetics are a combination of more than a single breed.1 Purebred is a single breed. For example, a purebred labrador retriever will have a family tree of only labrador retrievers. Meanwhile, a mixed breed dog might have a whole combination of different breeds that make up its genetics.
Is one better than the other?
Most people would say that mixed-breed dogs tend to be healthier because they don’t have as high risk for certain genetic conditions as purebreds.1 However, the specifics of this aren’t as clear-cut as people might think. Responsible breeders keep an eye on any diseases that might appear by testing their dogs. They’ll make sure to not breed dogs that have a history of a disease and will match pairs of dogs specifically so that the puppies won’t carry on any problematic genes.2
In a 2013 study, researchers tested both purebred and mixed breed dogs for 24 genetic disorders. They found that only one occurred more frequently in mixed breed dogs, while ten occurred more frequently in purebred dogs. However, that leaves 13 genetic disorders that could be found at the same frequency in both purebred and mixed breed dogs.3 That means that yes, although some disorders are more prevalent in purebred dogs, there are just as many health problems that can occur in mixed breeds.
Another thing worth pointing out is that some argue that you can be better prepared for a purebred dog because they’re more predictable as far as size and temperament. While with mixed breeds, you may have no idea what their genetic makeup is and then be surprised as they grow up.1
For example, if you have a dog that is a mix of two breeds, you may not know exactly which breed is the more dominant one in their personality until later on in life.4However, others also say that mixed breeds may have higher intelligence and a better temperament because they aren’t prone to the results of interbreeding.2
So figuring out which option is better may come down to what you’re comfortable with while you’re on a search for a dog and what fits your lifestyle better. One thing seems to be clear though: no matter if your dog is a purebred or a mixed breed, ultimately how your dog behaves will depend on how you raise and train it.
All the best,
Chris & the WERC Team
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