Do Mixed Breed Dogs Have Fewer Health Issues?
Do mixed breed dogs have fewer health issues than purebred dogs? You’ve probably heard people say something along these lines before, perhaps lamenting that their purebred Pug is always at the vet while their mixed breed adopted Terrier cross is generally healthy.
But is there any truth to these anecdotes? Are mixed breed pups a better option if you’re keen to avoid constant vet trips? Let’s check it out and answer the question “Are mixed breed dogs healthier than purebred dogs?”
What’s the difference between mixed breed and purebred?
Before we dive into health benefits and drawbacks, what exactly is considered a mixed breed (or mutt, as some people call them!) and a purebred dog? What would fancy hybrid breeds like the Labradoodle fall under?
Sometimes referred to as pedigree dogs (though that’s not always accurate), purebred dogs are dogs with parents from the same breed. As an example, in order to be considered a pedigreed Labrador Retriever puppy, both parents have to be purebred Labradors with papers. They must have a proven pedigree lineage.
Purebred dogs have a very small gene pool because of selective breeding. Of course, it’s hard to add new genes into this, as it would require using dogs who aren’t pedigreed. This lack of diversity in the gene pool is what often leads to health problems in purebred dogs (read more about that here).
Mixed breed dogs
There are a lot of different terms for mixed breed dogs – some more complimentary than others! But whether you call them crossbred, designer, mutts, mongrels, or something else, the fact stays the same: they’re a mix of two or more different dog breeds.
Hybrid or designer dogs – think Cockapoos or Labradoodles – are when two breeds are mixed together for a specific outcome. When dogs breed with no desired outcome, this is usually where people use terms like ‘mongrels’ or ‘mutts.’ Regardless of whether it was planned or not though, these are all mixed breed dogs.
What’s important is mixed breeds have a wider gene pool. So does that mean mixed breed dogs have less health problems? In some ways, yes. They’re less likely to be born with hereditary, breed-specific health problems, for instance.
Purebred dogs and the gene pool
As a result of breeding within a very small gene pool, certain genetic diseases are fairly common with purebred dogs. You’ve probably heard that Beagles are prone to epilepsy, IVDD in Dachshunds is common, hip dysplasia in dogs like German Shepherds and Labradors is par for the course, and more.
Some of these health problems are exacerbated by unethical breeding and puppy mills. For instance, Pugs who are bred for their aesthetics often have short noses, which makes breathing difficult. Many German Shepherd dogs have incredibly weak hips as a result of their sloping backs.
Not all breeders are bad or unethical, however – and we’d like to say most aren’t. So if you are set on a purebred dog, make sure to take the time to find an ethical dog breeder. Not only will it give you a better chance of having a healthy dog, but you won’t be supporting breeders who sacrifice animal welfare for financial gain.
So that’s purebred dogs and some of the issues you may encounter with them. Now onto the real question: do mixed breed dogs fewer health issues?
So… Do mixed breed dogs have fewer health issues?
Here’s the real question. Are mixed breed dogs really and truly healthier than purebreds? Mixed breed dogs indeed have a larger gene pool. Thus, it makes sense they’re less likely to suffer from certain hereditary diseases. Right?
It’s always been commonly accepted, but some research seems to indicate otherwise.
For instance, one study examined medical records of 90,000 dogs over a five-year period. They noted some genetic disorders were just as common in mixed breeds as purebred dogs, hip dysplasia being a notable one. Another found hybrid designer dogs are more likely to inherit genetic diseases from both breeds.
One more consideration is that most breeding of mixed breed dogs is unregulated. It may be “backyard breeding”, could be completely accidental because of homeless or unsterilised dogs, or might be a result of hybrids being bred with no breed associations and kennel club regulations to follow.
So in many cases, you won’t have any idea of who the parents were and how healthy they were. This means your dog might be less likely to inherit genetic disorders, but it’s a bit of a lucky dip as to their overall health.
Do mixed breed dogs have fewer issues? A verdict
So, do mixed breed dogs have less health issues? Yes and no. It’s true that pedigree dogs are more likely to inherit disorders. But it’s also true that all dogs can be prone to illness and disease at any time in their life.
As with any dog, mixed breed dogs have fewer problems when they’re well cared for. A good diet, proactive veterinary care, and enough exercise go a long way towards helping you manage and protect your dog’s health.
And of course, pet insurance helps you to manage the veterinary side of things. With a good policy at hand, you’ll be able to take them for check-ups, consult your vet on important things like diet, and have them treated for signs of illness or disease.
With great dog insurance backing you up you can focus on what’s important – giving your pup the best life possible! Click below to get started; you may be eligible for one or more months of free pet insurance.