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Mutts: Don’t count them out yet

Mixed breed dogs are completely undervalued by too many people. I grew up in a family that spent several hundred dollars on a purebred Golden Retriever puppy when it was time for a new dog. This is common for middle to upper class families. Purebred dogs are seen as a commodity which, if you can afford one, denote status. Households with purebred pets are often viewed as more complete and stable than households with dogs from community shelters or rescues.

Despite the variety of dogs available by discarding a certain lineage, many people do not care for mutts. It’s a common misconception that mutts are all dirty, badly behaved and sick simply because people associate mutts with street dogs and feral dogs. Mixed breed dogs, however, are the way dogs are meant to be.

The YouTube star Adam Conover, star of the “Adam Ruins Everything” web-series, released a video about mixed breed dogs in 2014. “Mutts are dogs in their natural, healthy states. A purebred is a form of genetic manipulation humans made up just to amuse ourselves,” Conover, who dedicates his series to debunking modern myths, said. “Outside of traditional working dogs, 90 percent of dog breeds were created in just the last 100 years.”

Mutts are still looked over in the selection of a new family pet. They are easier to find at shelters, cheaper to adopt, come in more shapes, sizes and temperaments — and yet, according to, “The largest percentage of dogs euthanized in shelters is medium to large mixed breed dogs.” People do not view these animals as valuable, sometimes even subconsciously. Some people adore mutts and still will not buy them if there are more purebred options available. Purebred labels are completely man made and arbitrary, but they’re effective. A purebred dog essentially has a nutrition sticker on it claiming “Better! Healthier!” as many brand name foods do.

Just like many nutrition claims, the claims of kennel clubs are misleading. “Certain purebreds are more prone to specific illnesses,” PETMD says, and quick research confirms this. Purebred English Bulldogs are infamous for their poor health and relatively short lifespan. They are very prone to cardiac and respiratory diseases, hip dysplasia and eye infections. They are also extremely sensitive to temperature changes, will drown in swimming pools if not quickly rescued, and their skin folds must be cleaned regularly by owners. The cause? Selective breeding for traits people found desirable without pause or concern for the health of the animal.

Bulldogs are not alone in this. All dog breeds, especially smaller and “tea-cup” sized breeds, are prone to health defects at birth and continued health problems over their lifetime. They don’t live as long as their mixed cousins and have a more difficult time adjusting to certain lifestyles. PETMD recommends a mixed breed if not for the health reasons, but for the happiness of the animals you love. “Mixed breeds are thought to adjust more easily to a variety of households and living conditions, whereas purebreds tend to be bred with a specific skill set in mind, such as herding or hunting.”

Mixed breed dogs are far more likely to be abandoned, ending up in shelters. By buying a mutt, you save a life and can share happiness with an animal who has done nothing wrong.

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