Doctor Dog: Are Mixed Breed Dogs Healthier Than Purebreds?
Bringing home a new dog is one of the most fun experiences you can share. Choosing one is a tougher task.
But are mixed breed dogs better than purebreds? Doctor Dog has the answer to a reader's question.
Remember, you can ask Doctor Dog questions whenever you want. Ask away, then look for her responses in the Dear Doctor Dog advice column on Always Pets.
The Question: Are Mixed Breed Dogs Actually Healthier, or Are Purebreds Better?
Dear Doctor Dog,
We lost our previous dog to cancer when she was only six. We were all heartbroken, but we miss having a dog in the house and are finally ready to consider getting a new one. In the past, golden retrievers were our thing. We always had at least one golden, but now we're wondering if a mixed breed dog would have a lower risk of health issues.
Do mixed breed dogs live longer? I love the predictability of purebred dogs in terms of personality and size, but now I'm not so sure. A healthy dog is better than a predictable one, right??
Any advice is welcome.
Candice Lee from Graham, Washington
Doctor Dog's Answer: There Are Pros and Cons of Both
I'm so sorry to hear that you lost your best friend so soon. That's the biggest downside of having a furry family member. Even the longest-living canines don't live as long as people do. As a dog, I can happily tell you that our sense of time isn't great. We live in the moment, and we enjoy every game of fetch and walk in the park, even if we only get to enjoy them for a decade or so.
Now, for the matter at hand: Does getting a mixed breed mean having a healthier, longer-living pet?
Hereditary diseases do contribute to early death in dogs. Most genetic disorders are recessive, meaning two copies of the gene must be present for the dog to develop the disorder. Because purebred dogs come from a smaller gene pool, the likelihood of puppies inheriting two copies of a gene is higher, raising the risk they'll develop certain diseases later in life. Mixed breed dogs are less likely to inherit genetic conditions, but that's not to say mixed breeds are perfect.
If you adopt a puppy with unknown parents, it's hard to estimate their future size or energy level. All dogs have their own personalities, but purebred dogs tend to be more predictable. Adopting an adult dog is a good way of ensuring they're a good fit for your family and lifestyle.
No matter which route you take, consider investing in an Embark DNA test. You can find out not just a dog's heritage, but important details about which diseases they're predisposed to getting. Armed with knowledge, you can begin taking preventative steps to help lower their risk of ever getting sick, like optimizing their diet and keeping them at a healthy weight.
I hope you find a happy, healthy dog that's just right for you. Purebred or not.
– Doctor Dog
More Infurmation About Choosing a Mixed Breed Rescue
Still on the fence? Check out the video below for more information about the pros and cons of mixed breed dogs vs. purebreds.
Have a Question for Doctor Dog?
Leave any questions for me, and look for my responses in my Dear Doctor Dog advice column on Always Pets. Have questions about cats, bunnies, hamsters or any other critters? Shoot! I may be a dog myself, but I'm here to help all your animal companions, whether they have four legs or fins.
Important reminder: Doctor Dog is happy to provide general pet care guidance, but she cannot provide formal medical recommendations or diagnoses for your pet. Your pet's veterinarian should always be your primary resource for serious questions regarding your pet's health.