Mixed Breed Dogs, Designer Dogs, Mutts, and So On
Mixed breed dogs go by many different names. When it is impossible to guess at a dog’s ancestry, the dog is likely to be referred to as a mutt. If it’s a particularly ugly mutt, or is perhaps homeless, it’s a mongrel.
A cross-breed is either a dog that has been cross-bred on purpose or by accident, and generally is a mix of two different breeds. A mutt or mongrel is typically made up of a number of different breeds, not just two, and in many cases those different breeds can only be guessed at. A mongrel’s parents are likely to have been mongrels as well, with each parent possibly made up of a completely different combination of breeds than the other.
When a mixed-breed dog comes from purebred parents that are of different breeds, it is often called a designer dog, or a hybrid. A boutique dog is another term that is often used. It is a term that is frequently reserved for somewhat exotic looking, smaller hybrids. There are mixed breed dogs however that have the bloodlines of three or four different breeds in them, which happened on purpose and not by accident. Breeders are well known for attempting to keep the bloodline of a particular breed as pure as possible, or for attempting to find just the right parents to produce a litter of designer or hybrid dogs. An example of this would be the loveable Husky Pomeranian mix. There are also breeders who work towards establishing mixed breeds, dogs whose bloodlines are made up of certain percentages of several different breeds; 25 percent of this breed, 25 percent of that breed, and so on. Once you get beyond the first generation of these mixes however, it can quickly become difficult to keep track of the bloodlines and keep them ‘pure.’
‘Widely Varies’ is Often the Common Denominator
If you were to look at the characteristics mixed breeds have, such as appearance, health, temperament, and care requirements, those characteristics could usually be summed up as ‘widely varies.’ No matter what the breeds involved are, mixed breeds share at least one characteristic with other mixed breeds, and with purebreds as well. They are pack animals. Being pack animals, they need to find their place in the pack, and they need to know who the leader of the pack is. Fortunately, most dogs adapt to having a human as their leader although some require more training than others before that begins to sink in. While there is a tendency to attempt to humanize a dog that has been taken in as a pet, a dog does not think exactly as a human does, and this always needs to be taken into account. If you take the time to learn about dog behavior it usually won’t matter who the ancestors of a given mixed breed dog were. Its behavior should still be close to what might be considered standard canine behavior.
Mixed Breeds, Mutts, and Mongrels Tend to be Healthier
One of the advantages to owning mixed breed dogs is that they are generally healthier than their pure breed counterparts. Their blood lines may be so widely spread that genetic issues affecting a certain breed’s health may be lessened or even eliminated. When you see a mutt or mongrel that is not in the best of health is usually because it has not been well treated, or properly cared for. When adequately cared for, mutts and mixed breeds will usually live a long, happy, and healthy life.
There are many different canine breeds. Around 400 different breeds are currently recognized. They all belong to the same species however. There is just one species of dog. What sets the pure breeds apart is that the two parents have very similar characteristics and the puppies in their litter, once grown, will look very much the same. When you purchase a pure breed puppy, you usually know what you’re getting. When you purchase a mixed breed, you really can’t be sure what it will look like as an adult. An exception might be a case in which the breeder has carefully controlled the bloodlines of the puppy.
No Such Thing as a Hybrid
Technically, there is no such thing as a hybrid dog, although there are plenty of mixed breeds. The difference lies in the wording, and not with the breeds themselves. Since all dogs are of the same species, and it’s impossible to have a hybrid of anything that is of the same species, a hybrid dog cannot exist and should technically be referred to as a mixed breed or cross-bred dog. It’s all in the wording.
Only purebred dogs qualify for the AKC list of standard breeds. There are organizations that list hybrids and designer dogs. The standards are not the same as those of the AKC of course. There often are no standards at all. To be listed or registered as a hybrid or mixed breed, each parent must be of a single but different breed. It’s often possible to tell what a hybrid puppy will look like when it matures, although it depends on which of its parent’s genes are dominant. In certain circumstances one may be able to predict how a mixed breed puppy that has the bloodlines of three or more separate breeds will turn out, but it is usually more difficult to do so. It is generally impossible to predict the outcome at the mutt or mongrel level.