July 31 is National Mutt Day, so we’re here to celebrate the scruffy, the unique, the ambiguous, the literal underdogs. While coming across that pure-bred golden retriever puppy or honest-to-golly Dalmatian at your local rescue can seem like hitting the jackpot, allow us to make an argument for those classic Heinz 57s with less-than-obvious pedigrees.
While we’d never talk anyone out of adopting any dog for any reason, here are a few points in favor of mixed breeds.
The best of all worlds
Mutts offer a variety of varieties all in a single package. If you like a husky’s pointy ears but are more in the market for a beagle’s size, you might not have to choose one or the other. Many of our popular “hybrid” breeds that are popular today are perfect examples of this thinking. Goldendoodles and maltipoos are technically mutts, but offer up the best of both breeds.
Surprise is the spice of life
Though a veterinarian can typically take a solid guess as to the types of breeds that make up a mutt, without genetic testing it is hardly an exact science. To the untrained eye, guessing a mixed-breed puppy’s final form can be an even bigger mystery, since mutts often grow up to look a lot different than they did as youngsters. A puppy that seems Rottweiler-esque may top out at 30 pounds and end up looking more like a beagle. Some might say that’s more of a con than a pro, but it depends on how adventurous you want to be.
A one-of-a-kind buddy
Every dog is unique, especially to its owner, who knows all of their dog’s personality quirks and physical characteristics. But many people choose specific breeds because they have features and traits specific to those breeds. Whereas mutts are just baskets of surprises. The only one who has a mutt like yours is you. Even within the same litter, mixed-breed puppies can end up looking vastly different from one another. That part-beagle, part-Saint Bernard but with a dash of (probably) Akita likely won’t be replicated.
The benefits of a breed at a fraction of the cost
A patient potential dog rescuer who has considered a particular breed but doesn’t want to shell out the money that a pure-bred puppy might cost can often find an “unofficial” version of their breed. If you’re not concerned about AKC registration and just want all the benefits of, say, a boxer or black lab, it’s possible to widen your search and find a similar puppy for only the adoption costs. Sure, there’s a little bit of guesswork in a dog without paperwork, but if you adopt a young adult over a puppy, you can have a solid idea of what they’re going to be. Imagine getting all the traits of a Bichon at a fraction of the Bichon price.
Mutts can be healthier (in some ways)
Let us be clear: There is no conclusive evidence that mutts in general are healthier than pure-bred dogs. It’s a study that, in some ways, can’t be conducted due to the vast variety of dog breeds and the vast variation from mutt to mutt. However, there have been studies that prove that mutts are less susceptible to some health conditions that tend to impact pure breeds. The Institute of Canine Biology, after studying more than 27,000 dogs, found that the incidence of ten hereditary genetic disorders was 42 percent more likely in purebred dogs than in mixed breeds. Aortic stenosis, dilated cardiomyopathy, elbow dysplasia, Intervertebral disk disease, hypoadrenocorticism, atopy/allergic dermatitis, bloat, cataracts, epilepsy, and portosystemic shunt are more likely to occur in purebred pooches. Thirteen other genetic disorders were found to have the same incidence no matter the breeding.
Additionally, a mutt is less likely to carry a predisposition for a condition that a specific breed might carry. So that shepherd/lab mix can offer all the benefits of a shepherd or lab, but with a less likely chance of suffering hip dysplasia.
You’re more likely to save a life
According to the Humane Society of the United States, 75 percent of the dogs currently in animal shelters are mixed breeds, although some studies say the number is more like 95 percent. Whichever number you choose to believe, it’s a fact that people tend to hang onto their purebred pups more often, and most purebred pups are more likely to be adopted in the off chance they do find themselves at a shelter. So, consider giving a home to a dog who might not be offered one otherwise.