Do I Get a Pedigree, Crossbreed or Mixed-breed?
Each breed and cross-breed of dog differs in terms of size, temperament, coat type and potential health issues. The question is, should you get a pedigree, a crossbreed or a mixed breed dog? It’s important to do your homework and find the dog best suited for you, your lifestyle and living space.
Dogs can be categorized as pedigree (purebred parents), crossbreed (two different pedigree parents), and mixed breed (mongrel or mutt of unknown heritage). Pedigree dogs and some mixed-breed dogs tend to come from specialist breeders and can be relatively expensive, whereas mixed breeds can cost very little to buy. Depending on what’s important for you in a dog, each type has their own unique advantages and disadvantages.
A pedigree dog is one that has purebred parents of the same breed. Due to the relative predictability of these breeds, you’ll know what to expect in terms of their traits, coat type and potential health problems before you’ve even welcomed your new pet into your home. Examples of pedigree breeds include Labrador retriever, dalmatian, corgi, poodle, bichon frise, golden retriever, dachshund, Afghan hound, Siberian husky and English bulldog.
Crossbreeds have purebred parents of two different breeds. They’re often bred for the desired traits of each parent breed, and are generally considered to be healthier than pedigrees due to their diverse gene pool. Popular crossbreed dogs include the Cockapoo, Puggle and Labradoodle. Every dog has their own unique personality, but researching the breeds you’d like to own is essential to knowing their breed-specific traits and temperaments.
Mixed Breed Dogs
Mongrels, also known as mutts, are mixed-breed dogs. Unlike 'designer' mixed breeds, such as Golden Doodles, Cockapoos, or Puggles, a mongrel results from the unintentional breeding of two dogs. It is estimated that there are about 150 million mongrels around the globe.
Is it OK to call a dog a mongrel?
Mongrel has the Middle English root word mong, which meant "mix." If you use the word mongrel to refer to the mixed ancestry of a dog or other animal, you may or may not intend to be insulting. If you refer to a human as a mongrel, you are definitely making a pejorative comment about that person's origins!
Owning a Pedigree Dog
The main advantage of owning a pedigree dog is the relative predictability. In spite of differences in individual character, genetic traits are still fairly fixed in pedigree dogs. For example, Border collies were originally bred to herd, which is reflected in their high energy and highly intelligent personalities that we still see today.
It’s just not behavioural traits of pedigree dog breeds we can predict, but also their appearance and size, unlike crossbreeds. Perhaps you’re looking for a dog that’s very energetic or one that doesn’t require much grooming. Choosing a pedigree can make this initial decision a lot easier for you.
You’ll also be able to find lots more specific guidance for pedigree breeds. And whilst the fundamentals of dog training remain the same, knowing your dog’s breed can help you to better understand what drives them most. beagles, for example, are very food motivated, whilst other breeds respond better to dog toys whilst training.
Money, money, money.
The upfront cost of any pedigree dog is a lot of money. Purchasing a pedigree puppy from a reputable breeder can set you back thousands of dollars. Dog breeds such as French bulldogs and the Samoyed are amongst some of the most expensive but it’s not just the initial payment that can be pricey.
Whilst you might like the look of a particular dog, it can come at a cost. The consequences of some pedigree dogs are hereditary diseases, often associated with the desired physical trait that the dog has been bred for. For example, Welsh springer spaniels are prone to glaucoma and hip dysplasia. Dalmatians are prone to hip dysplasia too, along with urinary stones and seizures. All the “flat-faced” breeds, including the popular pug, tend to have breathing problems caused by restricted airways. Treatment isn’t always affordable, not to mention the dog’s potentially poor quality of life.
Some pedigree traits, useful when the dog was being developed centuries ago, aren’t quite as desirable as they once were. Think along the lines of the baying of a foxhound or the howling of a Siberian husky. It’s important to thoroughly research the breed you think you’d like before making a decision.
Owning a Crossbreed Dog
Best of Both Worlds
The appearance or behaviour of mixed breed dogs cannot entirely be predicted but if you know what both parents are, you stand a better chance of getting the “best of both worlds”. Labradors and golden retrievers are commonly crossbred to produce a Goldador, combining traits of both breeds to produce a very effective guide dog for the blind.
Both crossbreed and mixed breed dogs are less prone to inherited diseases than most pedigree dogs are. You may or may not be familiar with the scientific term ‘hybrid vigor’ in relation to crossbreed dogs but what this means is the improved performance of a trait which one parent holds that is passed down to a dog’s offspring. The higher the hybrid vigor, the more genetically diverse a dog is. The lower the level of hybrid vigor and less genetic diversity, the potentially higher chance of hereditary health problems.
Dog lifespan varies from breed to breed, but crossbreed dogs, as a whole, tend to live longer than their pedigree counterparts. Their better health is largely responsible for this as they’re less suspectable to hereditary illnesses that either parent may have had.
Each mixed breed dog is unique. Think of them as a canine limited edition! For example, a cockapoo with a poodle dad and cocker spaniel mom could inherit mostly the appearance of their father and the temperament of their mother, whilst another may look and act completely different. So if you’re after an exact 50/50 split from each breed, a crossbreed dog won’t guarantee this.
Not all crossbreeds are expensive, but with the increasing popularity of “designer dogs” many are becoming very pricey. The cost of owning a dog varies on several factors such as your location, size of the dog, grooming requirements and so on, but if you’re looking to keep the upfront cost down, a mixed breed dog is likely the best option for you.
Poodle mixes in particular are a growing concern for some professionals. Crossbreed poodles are currently very popular for two main reasons - they’re undeniably cute but poodles are also hypoallergenic. This provides a solution for those who are allergic to dog hair but don’t want to miss out on the joys of ownership. It should be noted, however, that poodle mixes may not be 100% hypoallergenic, depending on what breed the second parent is.
Poodles as a breed make for great pets. They’re incredibly intelligent but because of this, they need plenty of mental stimulation. They can also be skittish and sensitive, which are traits that can often be overlooked when crossing with another breed.
Owning a Mixed Breed Dog
Mixed-breed dogs are those made up of multiple breeds with often unknown parentage. These dogs are also sometimes referred to as mongrels or mutts, which can be misinterpreted as derogatory terms but ultimately, can all be used interchangeably. Traditionally considered the less desirable cousins of purebreds, in more recent times, these loveable pets are now being shown the appreciation and recognition they deserve.
Genetically diverse, mixed-breed dogs have their own set of advantages compared to pedigree dog breeds, depending on what’s important to you as an owner.
Each mixed-breed dog is unique. Think of them as a canine limited edition! The appearance or behavior of mixed-breed dogs cannot entirely be predicted but if you’re happy with not knowing what to necessarily expect, then a one-of-a-kind mixed breed could be perfect for you.
Mixed-breed dogs are typically a lot cheaper than their pedigree pals or crossbreed counterparts. Not to be confused with mixed breeds, crossbreed dogs are those with two pedigree parents. These can come at a premium, with such “designer dogs” having soared in popularity in recent years. You’ll find plenty of mixed-breed dogs in rescue centres that are in need of loving homes and come at a very small fee. Be mindful that most rescue dogs are not completely free though, as many shelters rely on donations to help other animals and potential healthcare costs.
Mixed-breed dogs are less prone to inherited diseases than most pedigree dogs are, with a lower risk of genetic disorders such as hip dysplasia, common in breeds such as Great Danes and Saint Bernards. In turn, this translates into lower vet bills for mixed breeds. Mixed-breed dogs also tend to live longer than pedigree breeds which means you could have your loving pooch around for a little longer. As a general rule of thumb though, larger dogs, even mixed-breeds, have a shorter lifespan than their smaller counterparts.
Potential Unknown Ancestry
The sometimes unknown ancestry of mixed-dog breeds means that their size, appearance and behavioural traits are not guaranteed. If when choosing a dog, be mindful that if you have particulars such as wanting a pet that doesn’t shed, won’t grow beyond a certain size or will protect your home, opt for either a crossbreed dog that’s a mix of two breeds you’d be happy with either traits and appearance to be passed down, or a pedigree.
If you get your rescue mixed-breed dog as a puppy, you’ll also need to consider how large (or not!) they’ll grow. If you don’t feel as though you don’t have the room or a preference for a large dog, then a mixed breed might not be right for you. The size of a puppy’s paws is often a good indicator of how large they’ll be, though. The larger the paws in relation to their body, the bigger the dog will likely be when fully grown.
Doggy DNA testing can be done if finding out your mixed-breed dog’s heritage is important to you. But these tests do have their limitations such as being potentially inaccurate depending on which you take.