Are Mixed-breed Dogs Healthier Than Purebred Dogs?

October 21, 2018
There are some statistics that point to the fact that certain purebred dogs have hereditary illnesses. However, there aren't that many studies that use mixed-breed dogs because they are difficult to classify.  

Many people already know that there are dog breeds that have hereditary conditions. By contrast, people often say that mixed-breed dogs are healthier and don’t have any genetic problems. So, are mixed-breed dogs really healthier?

Hereditary Diseases in Purebred Dogs

The creation of Purebred dogs consisted of using genetic selection. This means the dogs with the most desirable traits are selected to reproduce. Through the generations, these traits define the breed. This is how all dog breeds were created, from the first primitive breeds to the more modern ones.

The traits that breeders want could be anything. Many current breeds are selected based on their appearance, but some breeds have also been bred for their intelligence (such as the Border Collie or German Shepherd), speed (Greyhounds), or their personality (Labrador). In these cases, their appearance isn’t really that relevant but all are physically similar.

This genetic selection process manages to boost the traits that people want. However, sometimes purebreeds have genetic diseases. During the last century, there has been an explosion of purebred dogs, whereas until the 19th Century certain breeds only existed to serve a particular working function.

However, in recent years many more breeds have been selected based on their appearance. Irresponsible breeders have found themselves with high demand and have started breeding puppies with very little controls. This, unfortunately, resulted in genetic diseases being passed on.

Happy mixed-breed puppy

This is why there are breeds that are prone to have certain health problems that other similar dogs almost never get. For example, the percentage of Dalmatians that are deaf much higher than any other breeds. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is prone to developing Syringomyelia, a very painful terminal illness.

However,  there are some diseases which are the result of a particular trait of a breed. Brachycephalic dogs — which have a short snout, like the Pug or the British Bulldog — tend to have respiratory problems. Toy or miniature breeds tend to have heart problems because their heart isn’t big and strong enough.

Is It True That Mixed-breed Dogs Healthier?

There’s a common belief that when breeds mix, only the healthier genes are the dominant ones. As a result, this makes mixed-breed dogs healthier than purebred dogs. However, this may not necessarily be true.

Just like any purebred dog, mix-breed dogs can also inherit genes that can make them ill. It’s less probable, due to the genes that cause the illness only come from one parent instead of both.

However, relevant statistics hardly ever mention mixed-breed dogs. This is because they are a very difficult group to classify and study. When conducting a study, it’s much simpler to find and control purebred dogs instead of trying to use mixed-breed dogs that are made up two or three breeds.

Mixed-breed dogs lying underneath a cabinet

However, just because they don’t appear in the statistics doesn’t completely make mixed-breed dogs healthier. In just the same way that they inherit their colour, intelligence, or physical appearance, they can also inherit illnesses too.

Schedule a Veterinarian Appointment

No matter what, it’s up to a vet to detect any possible hereditary disease and propose a treatment or prevention plan. If you have a mixed-breed dog who frequently has health issues, then you should schedule a veterinarian appointment.

Likewise, some health problems are related to size more than genetics, such as hip dysplasia, and will require veterinary check-ups on a regular basis.

Only a vet can diagnose and properly treat your dog’s health problems. They may also be able to run genetic tests to make sure about the likelihood of them having a specific illness. It might seem that mixed-breed dogs are healthier but in actuality, it all depends on the test results.

There is no absolute certainty that mixed-breed dogs are healthier than purebred dogs. They’re less likely to have certain genetic illnesses that some purebred dogs have, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take them to the vet on a regular basis and also take good care of their health.