Why Do Some Purebred Dogs Have Health Problems?
When you purchase or adopt a purebred dog, you are getting a dog that has less genetic diversity than a mixed breed dog. This is not necessarily a bad thing, if the breeder has done her due diligence in making sure to sell puppies that are free of genetic diseases.
In a perfect world, every purebred puppy bought on this planet would be well-socialized and cared for before being adopted, and certified to be free of any genetic diseases. The reality, however, is that disease testing and proper socialization take time and money, and purebred puppies that are sold responsibly cost a lot more than puppies sold from a backyard breeder or a pet store that is selling puppies sourced from an unethical puppy mill.
I have seen many heartbreaking situations where people bring in their purebred puppies for their first health checkup, only to find out that the puppy has one or more genetic diseases that weren’t detected or even tested for by the breeder or pet store.
What Qualifies a Dog as a Purebred Dog?
A dog is defined as purebred if he or she has been registered with the American Kennel Club and has papers to prove that the mother and father are both of the same breed. If the papers show that a dog’s ancestors all come from the same breed, then that dog is considered to be a pedigreed purebred dog.
Purebred dogs are a product of selective breeding by humans. Dogs from the same breed are chosen for their genetic traits, such as size, temperament, coat type and color, and then bred together.
Mixed Breed Dogs and Hybrid Dog Breeds
In contrast, mixed breed dogs (aka mutts) are defined as the offspring of dogs that are not from the same breed and usually have unknown ancestry. But there is another category you might not have heard of—hybrid dogs.
According to the American Canine Hybrid Club, a hybrid dog is the intentional offspring of two purebred dogs from different breeds. Usually hybrids are the offspring of a purebred Poodle and something else, and the offspring can have fantastical names, like Goldendoodle, Maltipoo or a Saint Bernadoodle. Some breeders are taking it one step further, crossbreeding hybrid dogs to create second-, third- and fourth-generation hybrids.
If you ask any mutt parent if they think that mutt dogs are healthier than purebreds, they will usually say yes, because there is more diversity in a mutt’s gene pool. But if you ask a conscientious breeder the same question, however, they will tell you that because of genetic testing, inherited disease testing and temperament testing, a purebred is healthier.
As far as I can tell, there are no studies that back up either claim, so everything I have to share on this topic is based on 16 years of clinical practice experience. Generally speaking, I think mixed breed dogs tend to be healthier and tougher and tend to live longer than many of the purebreds I see in practice. Mutts, in my experience, tend to have lower incidences of inherited disease, such as some cancers, back problems and hip dysplasia.
The Bizarre Truth About Purebred Dogs (and Why Mutts Are Better) – Adam Ruins Everything
We are happy to see that there is a lot more discussion in the news lately around canine health, and how some of our breeding practices are producing some quite unhealthy dogs. You may have heard people mention that crossbred dogs are healthier than purebred dogs. Is this true? And why are some dogs unhealthy at all? Are there any solutions?