Mutts Vs Pure Bred Dogs
The Big Q: Are Mutts healthier than Purebred Dogs?
The Big A: Many people believe that Mutts aka mixed breeds are healthier than purebreds. One of the reasons for this notion is that when 2 or more breeds are blended together, there is less risk a dog will inherit breed-specific diseases.
The idea that Mutts are healthier makes a certain amount of sense when considering the poor breeding practices of puppy mill operators and many AKC-associated breeders as well. There is a lot of focus on breeding animals for certain physical characteristics, and entirely too little attention paid to selecting dogs for health and longevity.
The belief that breed-blending creates healthier dogs is part of the reason “designer dogs” like Goldendoodles, Morkies and Puggles have become so popular. It is also why breeders are able to ask higher prices for dogs that purebred.
The Big Q 2: But are mixed and designer breeds really healthier?
The Big A: Not according to what many veterinarians see in their practices, and not according to a 5-year study of veterinary cases at the University of California (UC), Davis. This research indicates that mixed breeds don’t automatically have an advantage when it comes to genetic disorders.
The UC Davis researchers looked at the records of over 90,000 purebred and mixed breed dogs that had been patients at the university’s veterinary medical teaching hospital between Y’s 1995 and 2010. Designer dogs were included in the study, since crossbreeding is presumed to reduce or eliminate genetic disorders like hypothyroidism, epilepsy, hip dysplasia and cancer.
Of the 90,000 records reviewed, 27,254 involved dogs with at least one of 24 genetic disorders, including various types of cancers, heart disease, endocrine system dysfunction, orthopedic conditions, allergies, bloat, cataracts, eye lens problems, epilepsy and liver disease.
According to the study, the prevalence of 13 of the 24 genetic disorders was about the same for purebreds as mixed breeds. Some of those disorders were hip dysplasia, hyper and hypoadrenocorticism, cancers, lens luxation and patellar luxation.
10 conditions were found more frequently among purebred dogs, including dilated cardiomyopathy, elbow dysplasia, cataracts, and hypothyroidism.
One disorder was actually more common in mixed-breeds, cranial cruciate ligament ruptures. The researchers concluded that overall, the prevalence of genetic disorders among purebred and mixed-breed dogs depends on the specific condition.
The UC Davis study data also suggests breeds that share a similar lineage are more prone to certain inherited disorders. 4 of the 5 breeds most commonly affected with elbow dysplasia were the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Newfoundland, the Mastiff, and the Rottweiler, which are all from mastiff-like lineage.
This suggests these breeds share gene mutations for elbow dysplasia as the result of having a common ancestor.
On the other side of that coin is that disorders that occur in both mixed breeds and purebreds seem to originate from well-established gene mutations that have spread throughout the dog population.
These disorders include hip dysplasia, tumor-causing cancers, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
If you are thinking about purchasing a purebred puppy, developed a method to help you determine how healthy your new pet may be.
Investigating the lifestyle of your prospective puppy’s parents through questions posed to the breeder can give you excellent insight into the health of your pup and his litter mates.
Here is the questionnaire for you to follow: http://www.animalplanet.com/breed-selector/dog-breeds/questionnaire/page8.html .
These questions are intended to determine how committed the breeder is to the well being of his or her dogs and their litters.
If a breeder cannot or will not answer the above questions about the parents of the puppy you are considering, find another breeder.
Have a terrific weekend.