Mutts Vs. Purebreds

I’ve talked many times in my blogs about how adopting a new puppy is a wonderful, joyful experience. That experience is the same no matter what type or breed of puppy you adopt, of course. That includes purebred puppies as well as so-called “mutts,” both of which will bring laughter, pleasure, and happiness to any household.

What’s interesting to note is that mixed breed dogs hold a slight majority in the United States at 53%. That means that 53% of American households have a mixed breed dog as opposed to 47% that have purebred dogs.

Many people, however, have strong opinions when it comes to which type of dog to adopt, a purebred or a mutt. Some don’t have a preference, while some believe purebreds are better. Then you have those who believe, for various reasons, that the only type of puppy to adopt is a mutt.

All opinions have some validity, of course, although some are biased and some are based on myths that simply aren’t true. Fact is, the debate about whether to adopt a mutt or purebred puppy has been raging for as long as humans have owned dogs. 

Today’s blog might not change your opinion, but it will give you some facts about the differences between mutts vs. purebred puppies. If you’ve been wondering what they are and why it matters, read on. I’ve got answers, information and advice below that you may find helpful if you’re planning to adopt a puppy sometime soon.

What’s the Difference between a Mutt and a Purebred Puppy? 

The American Kennel Club (AKC)  has a straightforward definition of purebred puppies and mutt puppies. Their definition of purebred is any dog with a sire and dam that is the same breed and purebred. Their definition of a mutt is, humorously, anything else.

I think you’ll agree; those definitions are pretty easy to understand. However, the problem starts when people define what makes a purebred “better” than a mutt and vice versa. Some people, for example, believe that purebred dogs are healthier, friendlier, and more attractive. 

Others believe exactly the opposite that mutts are intrinsically better than purebred puppies. Frankly, both opinions are based on personal experience, bias, and personal preference, which instantly makes them flawed. (No offense to anyone, please.) 

Why Mixed Breed Dogs are Better

There is some real-world evidence that mixed-breed dogs are, in several ways, better than purebred. Please keep in mind that when I say “better,” I’m not saying that purebred dogs are worse, but instead that, due to things like health, life expectancy, temperament, and other factors, mutts have certain advantages over purebred puppies.

Purebred vs. Mutt Health

No matter your opinion, the fact is that mutts tend to be healthier than purebred dogs. That’s because, with mutts, there is much less inbreeding. Inbreeding is the biggest problem with purebred dogs because health issues are passed down from parents to puppies, and when this happens repeatedly, those health issues become even worse. 

A perfect example of this is a study conducted by The Institute of Canine Biology. They examined two dozen genetic disorders and found that, of those 24, 10 occurred significantly more often in purebred dogs. They also found that 1 of the 24 disorders was more commonly found in mutts and that the last 13 were about equal. (Mutts and purebred puppies suffered equally from these 13 genetic disorders.)

Purebred vs. Mutt Life Expectancy

Research has shown that mixed-breed puppies and dogs tend to live, on average, about a year longer than purebred dogs. Of course, the life expectancy of any dog hinges on the amount of care they are given. A purebred dog with health problems that is well taken care of, for example,  will likely live longer than a mixed breed dog that is abused or neglected.

One important thing to note about mixed breed dogs is that they tend to have more robust immune systems and thus live longer. That being said, if you adopt a purebred puppy from a responsible, caring breeder, their life expectancy can still be relatively high.

Purebred vs Mutt Temperament

There haven’t been a lot of studies done on the behavioral differences between purebred puppies and mixed breed puppies; it’s true. However, some have found that mixed breed dogs were, on average, more disobedient than their purebred compadres. Other studies, though, have shown that there’s very little difference in terms of temperament between the two types of dogs.

Of course, temperament has a lot to do with how a puppy is raised, treated, and taken care of. Rottweilers raised in a loving, caring household where they were well-trained and socialized can be highly loving dogs. On the other hand, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, typically affectionate and gentle, can become vicious if raised inhumanely. 

What to Look for in a Mixed Breed Puppy

While not an exact science, there are certain traits and features that you can look for when adopting a mixed breed puppy. They can give you clues about a pup’s future temperament, health, and life expectancy. Below are a few things you should look for when adopting a mixed breed pup, including:

  • Friendliness. It’s easy to spot a friendly puppy as they will typically come to the front of their kennel and be very eager to connect with you. They will also wag their tail low and wide, not high and above their back.
  • Look for a puppy that will become calm and relaxed when you pet them using slow, deep petting. A puppy that becomes excited or agitated when you do this might be problematic as an adult dog.
  • If possible, unleash the puppy and walk around with them for a short time. If they stay close and attentive, that’s an excellent sign. 
  • A puppy that keeps its ears back and forehead smooth when interacting with you is an excellent sign. 
  • A mixed-breed puppy that does whatever it can (as long as it’s gentle) to get your attention is typically more promising than one that ignores you or, even worse, yanks on their leash trying to get away from you.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen today, there are a few differences between mutts vs. purebred puppies. While purebred dogs tend to be easier to train and have better temperaments, mixed-breed dogs tend to live longer. Again, however, all of these factors are dependent on how a puppy is treated, raised, trained, and cared for by their owner.

It’s likely that the information today hasn’t changed your opinion significantly, it’s true, but the fact is that most shelters don’t have purebred dogs to adopt. This brings up one significant factor; cost. 

Typically, a mixed breed dog from a shelter will cost less than $100 to adopt, have spayed or neutered, and get immunizations. The typical purebred dog? They start at upwards of $500 and can be much more expensive than that. That makes cost the most significant factor (for many people) in terms of the differences between mutts vs. purebred puppies.

I hope that you found today’s blog to be interesting and helpful. Please see my other blogs if you have more questions or want to learn more about how to care for, train, and raise a puppy. They’re filled with real-world, actionable information to help you become an excellent puppy parent and raise your furry friend into a healthy, happy, and well-adjusted dog.