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Marvelous Mutts and Proud Pedigrees

A great debate among pet owners is if purebred dogs are worth the hype and if mixed breeds should be held to the same standards. There is also a lot of misinformation on what classifies a dog as a mutt versus a pedigree dog. Does the differentiation between mixed breed and purebred really matter anymore?

There is a lot of confusion between a mutt and a mixed breed. Traditionally the word mutt has had a negative connotation, with even Webster's Dictionary defining a mutt as “a mongrel dog”. Most mutt owners would not consider their dogs to be mongrels but rather mixed breed dogs. These are any dogs that are a mix of two or more standard breeds of dogs. This category covers anything from rescue mixed breeds to designer dogs. Yes, you read correct! Designer dogs like labradoodles and puggles are still mixed breeds. Regardless of if they have purebred parents, designer dogs are still considered to be mixed breeds.

This is not to say that mutts or mixed breeds should be viewed as any less than amazing dogs! Quite often “mutts” are considered to be healthier overall than purebred dogs, since they are less likely to carry the same genetic health conditions that are associated with certain breeds. Mixed breed dogs can also be just as affectionate and intelligent as any purebred dog. Mutts can also be some of the most beautifully unique dogs, rivalling the looks of pedigree dogs.The view on mixed breeds has changed greatly over the last 20 years, with some prestigious dog shows even allowing mixed breeds to compete now.

Conversely, it is a little more difficult to select a mixed breed dog, as there is more guesswork to be done with how the dog will turn out as it ages. Will an aussie-doodle nip like a herding dog or portray the playful nature of a poodle? The behaviour, health and size expectations of mixed breed dogs tend to be more unpredictable.  

Some people consider purebreds to be the “gold standard of dogs” and for a long time were a symbol of status. Purebred dogs represent a group of animals that have been selectively bred for many years to portray consistent traits and behaviours. Usually grouped into the category of herding, sporting, non-sporting, working, hounds, terriers, or toy, each purebred dog was specifically bred for an intended purpose. 

Purebred dogs are great for owners who have an affinity for a certain breed or want to be confident in the type of dog they are getting. The Canadian, American and United Kennel clubs are a great reference for information on these types of dogs. While it is true that purebreds are more likely to be predisposed to certain health problems, doing your research and selecting an experienced breeder can greatly minimize the odds of getting an unhealthy animal.

Happy Golden Retriever laying down in a field of green grass and daisies

If you’re looking into a purebred dog, you should also be prepared to open your wallet. A dog from a responsible breeder is probably going to be expensive and a bargain purebred is often a red flag of a bad breeder. Monetary value is where the distinction between purebred and mixed breed is important. Responsible breeders spend time and money preserving the health and integrity of their respective breeds and should be compensated accordingly. 

Ultimately, dogs are a spectacular species regardless of if they are mixed breeds or purebred. Prospective pet parents should consider what type of dog will fit best into their home, taking into account factors like size, activity level and medical needs, rather than weighing the options of pedigree versus mutt. All dogs are wonderful in their own way and one type is not better than another. As long as your dog fits in and is considered part of the family, that is all that matters!

Male and female dog walkers walking a line up of different breeds down concrete road
Male and female dog walkers walking a line up of different breeds down concrete road

View Sources


Parker, Heidi G., Lisa V. Kim, Nathan B. Sutter, Scott Carlson, Travis D. Lorentzen, Tiffany B. Malek, Gary S. Johnson, Hawkins B. DeFrance, Elaine A. Ostrander, and Leonid Kruglyak. "Genetic structure of the purebred domestic dog." science 304, no. 5674 (2004): 1160-1164.

Crispin, Sheila. "The advisory council on the welfare issues of dog breeding." (2011): 129-131.

Bell, Jerold, Kathleen Cavanagh, Larry Tilley, and Francis WK Smith. Veterinary medical guide to dog and cat breeds. CRC Press, 2012.

Bell, Jerold S. "Pure Breeds, Mixes, and Designer Breeds." (2012).

Farrell, Lindsay L., Jeffrey J. Schoenebeck, Pamela Wiener, Dylan N. Clements, and Kim M. Summers. "The challenges of pedigree dog health: approaches to combating inherited disease." Canine genetics and epidemiology 2, no. 1 (2015): 3.

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February 20, 2024
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