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Purebred Vs. Cross Breed Vs. Mixed Breed Dogs

Updated on October 14, 2012

There is a substantial amount of debate among dog fanciers as to the various merits of purebred, cross breed, and mixed breed dogs. There is also a great deal of confusion between the three different groups. The purpose of this article is not to promote one type of dog or another, but rather to educate and compare. Full disclosure, in the opinion of this author, both Purebred and Mixed breed dogs are both equally great and there are a number of reasons why anyone should select them as a companion, while the reasons for selecting a cross breed dog are much more suspect. To begin with, we should clarify what exactly a breed is. A breed is a specific type of dog, although exactly what constitutes a breed is up for a substantial amount of interpretation and debate. For example, in America, all three types of Belgian Griffon are considered the same breed while the four different types of Belgian Sheepdog are considered different breeds, while the exact opposite is the case in Europe. Many claim that a dog's breed is determined by its papers and registration. However, this is also inaccurate. There are dozens of breeds throughout the world which are treated as distinct which are not registered with any kennel club. Also, different dog registries such as the AKC, UKC, FCI, and CKC recognize and register very different sets of breeds.

Purebred Dogs

Purebred dogs are dogs that have two purebred parents of the same breed. Contrary to popular belief, a dog can still be purebred even it if doesn't have papers, but papers are necessary to prove the dog's purebred nature and to enter the dog in most dog shows. There are many benefits to purebred dogs. The most important is that purebred dogs of the same breed are generally very similar to one another. Although every individual dog is different, two purebred dogs of the same breed are usually much more similar to each other than two dogs of different breeds. Similarities usually include appearance, skills, and temperament. These similarities allow for potential owners to have a good idea of what a dog will look and act like, even as a puppy. For owners who have very specific needs or desires from their dog, a purebred dog is usually the best way to go. For example, if you want a hunting dog, you almost certainly need to acquire a purebred hunting breed. If you have an allergy sufferer or neat freak in your family, you will probably want to acquire a purebred dog that sheds very little. There are downsides to purebred dogs as well. Most purebred dogs are extreme in whatever they are bred for. On the one hand, long-coated show dogs often require substantial time and money investments into coat care, while on the other many working breeds require hours of daily physical and mental stimulation to stay happy. These extremes often cause problems for owners who simply want a companion animal. One of the biggest issues with purebred dogs is health. As a result of poor breeding practices, many breeds suffer from extremely high rates of severe health problems. However, the opposite can also be true. Many breeders keep health records of all their dogs and extensively test for problems in an attempt to eliminate them from their lines. Additionally, certain purebred breeds are in excellent health. Many owners prefer to rescue dogs from the shelter, and mistakenly believe that only mixed breed dogs can be found there. While the majority of rescue dogs are not purebred, countless thousands of purebred dogs also end up being abandoned every year.

Mixed Breed Dogs

Mixed breed dogs are dogs who have at least one parent of mixed ancestry. A mixed breed dog can be the result of crossing two mixed breed dogs, a purebred dog and a mixed breed dog, a mixed breed dog and a cross breed dog, or two cross breed dogs. Mixed breed dogs are obviously much less predictable than purebred dogs, especially when puppies. Mixed breed dogs vary tremendously in appearance and temperament. There are many reasons to select a mixed breed dog. Those looking for a truly unique individual dog can do no better than a mix. Additionally, most mixed breed dogs have middle of the road temperaments and appearances. The extreme exaggerations found in many purebred dogs are moderated by out-crosses. This means that many mixed bred dogs are excellent companions with less maintenance and needs than purebred dogs. Also, mixed breed dogs tend to suffer from fewer health issues than purebred dogs. Mixed breed dogs are not perfect, however. These dogs are incredibly unpredictable, especially as puppies. Owners may think they are getting a 20 pound lapdog but end up with a 60 pound ball of energy. Those who have very specific requirements or needs from a dog should also probably avoid mixes. While there are mixes that shed very little, this is a very, very small proportion of the total population. Those looking for a dog to hunt with, herd livestock, compete in advanced agility and obedience competitions, or other specific tasks also probably need a purebred dog as mixed breed dogs are almost always not as successful. Additionally, although mixed breed dogs are usually healthier than purebreds, many mixed breeds suffer from the same health concerns common among purebred dogs.

Cross Breed Dogs

Cross breed dogs are the result of crossing two purebred dogs of different breeds. Many people use the terms designer dogs or hybrid dogs to describe cross breed dogs, but both are inaccurate. All purebred have been designed, most to a much greater degree than is the case with so-called "designer dogs." The term hybrid dog is even more inaccurate as it already exists as a scientific definition. A dog is only a true hybrid if it is cross between a domestic dog and either a wolf or another canid species such as a coyote or jackal. There are three major groups of cross breed dogs, those that are the result of accidental matings between two purebred dogs, those that are developed deliberately as a step on the road to developing a new purebred dog breed, and those that developed deliberately for the purposes of a single litter. Because the first two groups are unique cases, the primary focus will be on cross breed dogs deliberately bred to produce a single cross breed litter. The primary reason given for creating a cross breed dog is combine the best features of two different breeds while eliminating the worst. However, the real reason that most breeders of cross breed dogs breed them is to make money. Right now, cross breed dogs are extremely popular and trendy, and many sell for hundreds of dollars. Cross breed dogs are supposed to combine the best features of both mixed breed and purebred dogs while eliminated the biggest issues of both. While this often does occur with individual cross breed dogs, it is much more common for them to combine the biggest issues of both while eliminating the best features. Cross breed dogs are just as unpredictable as mixed breed dogs, as they may exhibit any set of features from both their parents. Unless the cross is made between two very similar breeds, few cross breed dogs are capable of performing the same tasks as pure bred dogs. While it is true that most cross breed dogs have less exaggerated temperament and appearances than purebred dogs, this is definitely not always the case. Although many claim that cross breed dogs are healthier than purebred dogs, the truth is that they are very likely to have inherited the same health issues as either of their parents. This does not mean that individual cross breed dogs are not excellent companion animals, but it does mean that they offer no unique benefits over either purebred or mixed bred dogs. The biggest problem with cross breed dogs is that owners pay purebred dog prices when they could have simply rescued a mixed breed dog from a shelter.


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      cjjRogers 8 months ago

      You make some great points.

      One cross breed I do not understand is the GSD x border collie? You have a dog the size of a GSD with the energy of a border collie, can you imagine this dog running about in your house wanting to play ball 24/7....