Can mixed dogs have kids? A Complete Guide

Understanding the Difference

To start with a basic understanding of dog breeds, it can be helpful to begin with purebred dogs. These are simply dogs that have registration papers that indicate both parents were registered and of the same breed. It has no bearing on the quality of the dog but simply means that particular canine is only one breed of dog.

Mixed breed or a designer dog is a different name for what is essentially a mutt. While the word mutt can have a negative connotation, it simply means that the dogs parents were not registered and both parents are not of the same breed. These types of dogs come in a variety of coat types and colors, shapes, and sizes that rival any purebred dog.


Breeders wanted to make an adorable companion and so they mixed the Cavalier King Charles with Bichon Frise in 1996 in North America. The demand for the Cavachon dog climbed dramatically since then.

Compact and full of fun, the Cavachon breed can adapt to any environment.

It is a great apartment dog and does well in houses with or without a yard. He is a playful canine companion who will adore you unconditionally.

The Cavachon crossbreed dog takes great pleasure in cuddling as much as he enjoys being out and about.

He has a happy personality and the charm to make friends with everyone he meets.

Behaviour trait differences between the dog groups

In Survey 1, mixed-breed dogs were rated to be less calm (t-test, N = 9,186 t = 14.910; p < 0.001, Cohen’s d = 0.311), and less sociable toward other dogs (t = 4.919; p < 0.001, Cohen’s d = 0.103), than purebred dogs. We found no significant difference in trainability (t = 1.946; p = 0.052), or boldness (t = 0.519; p = 0.604) traits between the dog groups. In Survey 2, owners of mixed-breeds reported their dogs’ behaviour as more problematic (t-test, N = 6,384 t = 5.577; p < 0.001, Cohen’s d = 0.140), than the owners of purebreds.

10 Dog Breeds That Are Not for Families with Kids

2 Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, HungaryFind articles by

Studies about the behaviours of mixed-breed dogs are rare, although mixed-breeds represent the majority of the world’s dog population. We have conducted two surveys to investigate the behavioural, demographic, and dog keeping differences between purebred and mixed-breed companion dogs. Questionnaire data were collected on a large sample of dogs living in Germany (N = 7,700 purebred dogs representing more than 200 breeds, and N = 7,691 mixed-breeds). We found that according to their owners, mixed-breeds were (1) less calm, (2) less sociable toward other dogs, and (3) showed more problematic behaviour than purebreds (p < 0.001 for all). Mixed-breeds and purebreds were similar in trainability and boldness scores. However, twelve out of 20 demographic and dog keeping factors differed between purebred and mixed-breed dogs, and two factors showed considerable (> 10%) differences: neutering was more frequent among mixed-breeds, and they were acquired at older ages than purebreds (p < 0.001 for both), which could result in the observed behaviour differences. After controlling for the distribution of the demographic and dog keeping factors, we found that mixed-breeds were (1) more trainable than purebreds, (2) less calm, and (3) showed more problematic behaviour than purebreds (p < 0.001 for all). We discuss that these differences at least partly might be due to selective forces. Our results suggest that instead of being the “average” dogs, mixed-breeds represent a special group with characteristic behavioural traits.

When it comes to selecting a new canine companion, choosing an incompatible breed could have dire consequences, regarding the well-being of both the owner and the dog. Although the typical behaviour of different dog breeds has attracted considerable scientific attention (e.g. [1]), studies about mixed-breed dogs are rare. Mixed-breed dogs comprise dogs of heterogeneous origin that by definition, belong to no recognized breed, and their ancestry is usually complex or unknown. They could be intentionally bred by humans as hybrids of recognized breeds (e.g. ‘designer dogs’), they could be offspring of a purebred and a mixed-breed dog, offspring of two mixed-breeds, or descendants of stray, feral or pariah dog populations.

The percentage of mixed-breed dogs (out of all dogs living in households in the USA), is estimated to be around 53% by the American Veterinary Medical Association [2], and 44% by the American Pet Products Association [3]. In Germany and in the UK, approximately 31–33% of dogs are mixed-breeds [4,5], while in Australia, mixed-breeds make up half of the population of dogs living in human households [6]. In scientific databases, mixed-breeds compose approximately one third of the dogs [7–9]. However, these proportions are likely to underestimate the real number of mixed-breeds in the whole dog population, considering that these data estimate only the “owned” dog population (based on pet industry reports, veterinary records, household panels or mail surveys, [10]). The mixed-breeds’ contribution to the stray, feral and pariah dog populations is hard to estimate reliably. However, they probably represent the majority of dogs worldwide [11].

Mixed-breeds are often assumed to have some phenotypic advantage over purebreds in terms of fitness (e.g. improved health and lower susceptibility to diseases), because they show a lower level of homozygosity and have much higher genetic variation [12–14], which could lead to hybrid vigour [15]. Some studies have reported that adult mixed-breed dogs are less likely to suffer from inherited genetic diseases and live longer than purebreds [12,16–18]. Several studies have detected behavioural differences between mixed-breeds and purebred dogs. For example, Bennett and Rholf [7] reported mixed-breeds to be more disobedient, more nervous, more excitable, and exhibited excessive barking more frequently in the case of mixed-breeds than in purebred dogs. Hsu and Sun [19] reported higher ranks for three aggression subscales in mixed breeds (towards strangers, towards dogs, and towards owner/s). Mixed-breeds have also been reported to have an increased risk to develop noise phobia [20], they were more likely to be aggressive toward unfamiliar people, more fearful, and more sensitive to touch than purebreds [21]. Temesi et al. [22] found higher neuroticism, dog-directed fear and human-directed fear in mixed-breeds than in all AKC breed groups except the Toy dogs group. On the other hand, Ottenheimer-Carrier et al. [23] did not find any differences between purebred and mixed-breed dogs in three personality assessments.

One should note, however, that the main aim of these studies was not to compare purebreds and mixed-breeds. Therefore, these results could reflect a number of other systematic differences between these dog groups apart from the dogs’ purebred status. For example, dog keeping practices have been reported in association with numerous behaviour traits (e.g. [9,24–26]), therefore differences in these factors could result in behaviour differences between mixed-breeds and purebreds.

In the current study, we explored possible differences between mixed-breeds and purebreds in various behaviour traits and dog keeping characteristics. We hypothesized that when numerous individuals from many breeds are investigated together, breed-specific behavioural characteristics may balance each other out. Therefore, after controlling for differences in dog keeping practices between mixed-breeds and purebreds, we expected no differences between the mean behavioural trait scores of a large population of mixed-breed dogs and purebred dogs. The gene flow between the two populations also favours this hypothesis. Purebreds generally originated from ancient mixed-breeds and mixed-breeds often have purebreds among their ancestors.

Two surveys were developed, both measuring the demographic characteristics of the owners and dogs, as well as the dog keeping practices. Survey 1 aimed at measuring the dogs’ general behaviour tendencies (personality), and Survey 2, typical behaviour problems.

We collected the data using an online questionnaire designed to assess the dogs’ behaviour via owner report. According to the currently operating Hungarian law (‘‘1998. évi XXVIII. Törvény”—the Animal Protection Act, 3rd paragraph, 9th point), non-invasive observational experiments on dog behaviour are not considered as animal experiments, and are therefore allowed to be conducted without any special permission from the University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (UIACUC). The filling out of the questionnaires was voluntary and anonymous so the study did not violate respondents’ privacy. Informed consent was included in the introductory letter of the questionnaires.

We used the questionnaire method because it allowed us to collect data from a large number of subjects, which were highly diverse in terms of breed and dog keeping practices. A total of 14,004 dog owners filled out the first survey, and 10,240 filled out the second. We excluded reports with missing data and repetitions (where owners filled in two or more reports about the same dog, we used these data only for calculating test-retest and inter-rater reliability). There were N = 312 owners who filled in both surveys, their demographic and dog keeping questions were considered only once. We grouped the dogs into purebred and mixed-breed groups based on the owners’ specification. To control for the effect of breed popularity in the purebred group we defined a cut-off point for both surveys, so that the maximum number of individuals in a given breed was N = 60 for Survey 1, and N = 37 for Survey 2. We determined the cut-off point to match the total number of individuals in the purebred and mixed-breed group. If a breed was represented with more individuals than the cut-off point, we selected a random sample for the final dataset.

The final sample of Survey 1 consisted of N = 9186 dogs (4593 in the purebred and 4593 in the mixed-breed groups), the purebred group was composed of 254 breeds and no breeds had more than 60 representatives. The final sample of Survey 2 had N = 6384 dogs (N = 3199 dogs in the purebred and N = 3185 dogs in the mixed-breed group), the purebred group was composed of 251 breeds and no breeds had more than 37 representatives. Descriptive information of the databases can be found in the supplemental material (S1 and S2 Tables).

We conducted two surveys in Germany, both of which were developed by Jesko Wilke, a freelancer journalist of the German ‘Dogs’ magazine. The data were collected online by the magazine’s own website ( The results of Survey 1 have already been published in [9] and [27].

Both surveys comprised two parts. The first part collected information about the demographic characteristics of the owners and dogs, as well as about dog keeping practices. Twelve of these questions were the same in both surveys; eight were present in only one. The second part differed in the two surveys. Survey 1 aimed at measuring the dogs’ general behaviour tendencies (personality) and was developed based on a human personality inventory. This questionnaire contained 24 items (e.g. “My dog is calm, even in ambiguous situations”), and for each item the owners were asked to indicate their level of agreement on a 3-point scale (true, partly true, and not true) (see S3 Table). Our previous results using principal component analysis have revealed that 17 items out of the 24 belonged to four components, labelled as calmness, trainability, dog sociability, and boldness, all traits with middle or high internal consistency ([9,27], S3 Table).

Survey 2 listed 12 examples of typical behavioural problems such as “My dog usually does not listen to me when I call him/her back” (S4 Table). Again, the owners indicated for each statement how much they agree with it using a 3-point scale. The questions were designed to assess not only the prevalence of behavioural problems of the dogs, but also the owners’ attitude towards these behaviours; i.e. if he/she considers them as problematic. The internal consistency of the 12 items of the “Problematic behaviour” scale (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.720) indicates that they form one single trait referring to how problematic the owners assess their dogs’ behaviour in general. We calculated the trait scores of Survey 1 and Survey 2 by taking the mean of the variables belonging to a given trait.

We used the multiple reports from the same owner about the same dog (N = 208 in Survey 1 and N = 280 in Survey 2), for calculating test-retest reliability, and reports collected from a second owner (of the same dog) (N = 85 in Survey 1 and N = 136 in Survey 2), for assessing inter-rater reliability of the surveys.

We analysed the test-retest and inter-rater reliability of the surveys using Intraclass correlations (test-retest: Two-Way Mixed model, consistency; inter-rater: One-Way Random model, absolute agreement).