The debate between purebred and mixed-breed dogs and cats has been ongoing for years – but is one really better than the other? Today, we attempt to answer this age-old question by debunking common myths and exploring the reasons behind certain beliefs. Join us as we take a look at the facts and examine the pros and cons of purebred pets vs. mixed breeds.
Purebred Vs. Mixed Breed Dogs and Cats: What’s the Difference?
Before we jump in, let’s establish what distinguishes purebred pets from mixed breeds. Purebred pets come from parents of the same breed, as well as grandparents and great-grandparents, too.
For them to be recognized as “purebred” by organizations such as the American Kennel Club and the Cat Fanciers Association, their lineage typically needs to be traced through documented pedigrees. So, while you might technically own a purebred dog or cat, there’s no way of proving it without the paperwork.
On the other hand, mixed-breed pets are the result of the mating of cats and dogs from different breeds. This makes their ancestry less predictable. In fact, 53% of household dogs in the US are mixed breeds, while 98% of all household cats fall outside of the purebred criteria. This means that mixed-breed pets are more or less the “norm”, especially when it comes to our feline friends.
Why Do People Think Purebred Pets Are Better Than Mixes?
The perception that purebred pets are superior to mixed breeds stems from various factors. One prevalent belief is that purebreds are more predictable in terms of temperament, intelligence, capabilities, and appearance. Not only that, but there is a certain amount of prestige that many people hold for purebred pets.
In America, the UK, and elsewhere, purebred enthusiasts often see their pets as status symbols, with an emphasis on “champion bloodlines” in dog and cat shows.
Are Purebred Dogs and Cats REALLY Better Than Mixed Breed Ones?
It may be true that purebred pets are often more predictable in appearance, temperament, and capabilities. However, the preferential treatment they’re given over mixed-breed animals lies largely in culture and tradition. Is a purebred Golden Retriever really that much better than one whose grandmother is part Lab? We don’t think so.
Dog breeds, in particular, were created for specific jobs and tasks – not how they prance in front of a crowd. Thus, certain breeds carry traits that make them better at specific tasks than others. As a result, a mixed-breed dog who is predominantly Border Collie could be just as good at herding cows as a purebred. It all depends on the individual dog and their owner’s love and dedication.
On the flip side, many people believe that some dog (and cat) breeds have been overbred. They argue that some breeders have prioritized appearance over potential health issues. Moreover, common viewpoints surrounding the ethics of adopting from shelters vs. buying from a breeder, coupled with the belief that purebred dogs suffer from more health issues, have also created a cult following on the opposite end of the spectrum. But where does the truth lie?
Cons of Owning a Purebred Pet
Now, we’ll take a look at the disadvantages of owning a purebred pet. As this issue is hotly debated, we’ll try to keep the discussion firmly grounded in science.
Smaller Gene Pool = Specific Health Issues
The question of whether mixed-breed dogs are generally healthier than purebred dogs has been debated for decades. But to truly find the answer, we have to look at the research. A 2013 study by Bellumori et al examined over 27,000 canine medical records from a veterinary clinic at UC Davis. They aimed to compare the incidence of 24 genetic disorders in both purebred dogs and mixed-breed dogs.
The study found that purebred dogs have a notably higher risk of developing 10 hereditary disorders, while mixed-breed dogs have a higher chance of developing only one genetic disorder (ruptured cranial cruciate ligament, to be specific). This is because smaller gene pools increase “the expression of certain genetic disorders caused by recessive mutations.” Meaning, the likelihood that a dog will be born with a polygenic disorder increases if the dog is a purebred. This doesn’t necessarily mean that mixed-breed dogs are always healthier than purebred dogs, it just means that they’re more likely to have certain genetic disorders.
Larger Upfront Costs
There’s no question, however, that owning a purebred pet often comes with a hefty price tag. Breeders invest time and resources in carefully selecting and breeding animals with desirable traits, which can drive up the cost of purebred puppies or kittens. This upfront expense can be a barrier for many potential pet owners, limiting their options and potentially steering them away from responsible breeders.
Mixed breed dogs and cats can often be found at local shelters for fractions of the cost or even free, and usually already vetted and sterilized. The lower price tag shouldn’t deter you from their worth. There are also breed-specific rescue organizations that are always looking for loving homes, too!
While it’s essential to note that lifespan can vary widely within both purebred and mixed-breed populations, purebred dogs in particular may be more prone to specific health issues that can affect their longevity. To back up these claims, a 2019 study from the American Animal Hospital Association found that “Mixed-breed dogs lived significantly longer than purebred dogs, and this difference was more pronounced as body size increased.”
Thus, purebred dogs generally have shorter lifespans, especially larger doggos. Sigh.
Suggested reading: Delay the inevitable and keep your furry companion healthy with these 10 tips.
Pros of Purebred Pets
Okay, enough with the purebred cons. There are advantages to owning a purebred dog or cat, too!
You Can Pick a Breed with Certain Qualities
One undeniable advantage of choosing a purebred dog or cat is the ability to select a specific breed that aligns with your lifestyle. Different breeds exhibit distinct temperaments, energy levels, and grooming requirements. For example, if you’re an active person who enjoys outdoor activities, a Border Collie might be a perfect match. If you’re looking for a laid-back companion, a Ragdoll cat could be an excellent choice.
You Can Prepare for Specific Health Issues
Being aware of the common health issues associated with a particular breed allows proactive measures to be taken. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and preventive care can help mitigate potential health concerns. Responsible breeders often conduct thorough health screenings for their breeding animals to minimize the risk of passing on hereditary conditions.
Are you curious about your pup’s bloodline? Uncover their genetic history with a dog DNA test.
You Can Connect with Other Breed Enthusiasts
Purebred pet ownership also offers the opportunity to connect with a community of fellow enthusiasts. Breed-specific clubs and events provide a platform for sharing experiences, knowledge, and resources. This sense of camaraderie can be rewarding if you’re passionate about a particular breed and want to engage with others who share your interests.
Are Mixed Breed Dogs Friendlier?
One common misconception is that mixed-breed dogs are inherently friendlier than their purebred counterparts. The truth is that a dog’s temperament is influenced by various factors, including genetics, early socialization, individual personality, and their owner’s love and dedication. While some mixed-breed dogs may indeed be exceptionally friendly, most studies show that there’s really no difference in temperament between purebred dogs and mixed-breed dogs.
Pro-tip: Are you bringing home a new puppy? Here’s how to introduce them to your resident doggo.
Find Your Perfect Four-Legged Friend, Regardless of Lineage
Ultimately, the decision between a purebred dog or cat and a mixed-breed should be based on your individual preferences, lifestyle, and ability to care for your new companion. If you’re searching for a four-legged friend, it’s important to remember that countless lovable dogs and cats are in shelters waiting for loving homes. They may not come with a pedigree, but you just might find your soul mate.
Thus, the debate over whether purebred pets are better than mixed breeds is nuanced and subjective. The data tells us that one is really no better than the other – it’s all about the love they receive. By thoroughly researching and considering the specific needs of a chosen breed or pet, you can make an informed decision that leads to a happy and healthy life for both you and your new best friend.
Do you prefer mixed breed dogs and cats or purebreds? Let us know in the comments below!
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