A purebred dog refers to a dog of a specific breed, usually bred by breeders committed to the purity of that breed. These dogs can be certified by the AKC, qualifying for show and sport against others of their same breed or group.
A mixed breed, on the other hand, is a dog with a blend of two or more different breeds. These dogs do not possess a standard for the breed since they are a mix of many breeds, and so are unable to compete in major kennel clubs. So, are purebred dogs better than mixed-breed dogs? Or do mixed genetics make mixed-breed dogs smarter and a healthier choice?
Are Mixed Breed Dogs Healthier?
One of the biggest arguments against purebred dogs in the past is that they are far more prone to health issues than mixed-breed dogs. However, the reality is that this is only partly true, and the overall health of whatever dog you get depends on several other factors. When choosing a dog with its health in mind, there are at least three considerations: the dog’s specific breed, the individual genetics, and your lifestyle.
In a very general sense, mixed breeds may be more genetically resistant to hereditary health issues. But disease credited to a particular breed can also affect any mixed breed. For example, whether you get a purebred German Shepherd or some shepherd mix, the truth is that you would still have to be on the lookout for issues like hip dysplasia.
While some would argue that disease is more prevalent in pure breeds because of a limited genetic pool, this is not exactly true, especially when you factor in responsible breeding practices and health screenings before breeding individuals. It can be harder to breed out hereditary conditions or introduce any kind of genetic resistance in pure breeds. Still, when it comes down to it, mixed breeds are not healthier than pure breeds. It has much more to do with the specific breed than whether it is mixed or pure.
In addition to considering your dog’s breed, you must factor in its individuality. Sadly, there are a lot of irresponsible dog breeders out there. These breeders do not perform health screenings or ensure that their stock will produce the best quality puppy of that breed. This can lead to very genetically weak puppies. If you decide to get a purebred dog, do your due diligence if you want the healthiest puppy possible. Responsible breeders only breed strong, healthy individuals who have been tested so that the chance of hereditary issues is kept to a minimum.
Because mixed-breed dogs are often adopted from shelters and rescues, it can be harder to know the strength of their genes or the projected health of individuals. This is not a reason not to adopt from a shelter but rather a consideration as you decide what is right for you.
Regardless of the breed, every puppy comes from a particular lineage, pure or not, and that can affect the overall health of your dog.
Even with all the research you may do to get the healthiest dog, you should still plan on taking care of your dog throughout its life. This includes regular vet checkups, an appropriately active lifestyle, and a diet that promotes your dog’s individual needs. You should prepare for the possibility of illness since any dog can become sick despite the purity or sturdiness of their genes. Work with a vet throughout your dog’s life to ensure that your dog stays healthy and that any health issues are addressed promptly.
Are Mixed Breed Dogs Smarter?
The primary debate between purebreds and mixed breeds is usually about their health, but there are other differences to consider. For example, are mixed breeds more intelligent? Not necessarily. A mixed-breed dog will only be smarter if it inherits smart genes from its parents. It all depends on parentage and breed, not on mixed vs. purebred. Mixed breeds are not intrinsically smarter, though sometimes the blending of multiple breeds’ intelligence gives them a slightly higher likelihood of being competent in general. The same is true of any dog’s personality, temperament, or appearance.
So, which is it?
There can never be a perfect comparison between mixed breeds and purebred dogs. There are too many considerations, including breed, age, size, and sex. Mixed breeds may be generally healthier, but this is not a rule for all individuals. Purebred dogs have a standard that can help you know what you’re getting yourself into, both in health and personality. A dog’s intelligence, friendliness, or any other aspect of its temperament depends on the puppy’s parents and life experiences up to that point.
Whether you get a mixed breed or purebred dog, all dogs deserve love, attention, and care. They will be lifelong companions to you and your family regardless.