To understand the benefits of adopting a mixed breed, it’s important to distinguish between mixed breeds and cross breeds. A mixed breed dog is defined as a dog with unknown or undocumented parentage, while a cross breed dog has known parentage and usually comes from two pure bred genetic lines of two distinct breeds. Therefore, a CavaPoo or a Goldendoodle are not mixed breeds, but are cross bred dogs and the health benefits are not the same as mixed breed dogs that are made of a more genetically diverse makeup.
So what makes a mixed breed a fantastic pet? Let’s dive in.
Because mixed breed dogs have a mix of at least several different breeds and were not artificially created to enhance a particular physical characteristic like pure breeds or cross breeds, their DNA makeup is more diverse. This decreases the risk of congenital health and behavioral issues that come with breeding dogs of the same breed that are often "inbred"—bred by males and females that come from the same genetic line, particularly common unfortunately in the more popular pure breeds.
Like humans, this leads to all kinds of genetic complications that the dog is either born with or develops later in life. This genetic benefit of mixed breed is called hybrid vigor—which is in other words known as "heterosis", and essentially describes a genetic improvement or enhancement by breeding outside its own genetic line, leading to improved genetic makeup and therefore enhanced health. The more mixed the dog is, the stronger their hybrid vigor.
Other than the clear health benefits, there are many advantages to adopting a mixed breed. First, mixed breed dogs do not come from puppy mills or breeders, so by adopting a mixed breed, you’re not contributing to unnecessary suffering and animal cruelty that society still seems to simply sweep under the rug.
Mixed breeds are oftentimes available to adopt at shelters, foster homes, or even sometimes out on the streets, and you are essentially opening up your home to an animal that is otherwise homeless and alone. There’s that philanthropic feel-good factor that comes with adopting a mixed breed on top of not having to spend a lot of money on purchasing a dog that comes with so many health issues.
And speaking of money, there is additional financial benefit as well. Since mixed breeds are known to be a lot healthier, other than the annual exams and vaccine updates, you likely will not need to see your vet as often, which can really help offset the significant burden and chronic staffing shortage that vet clinics across the country are dealing with right now as well.
Despite what many people presume, veterinary professionals prefer you adopt a healthy mixed breed dog rather than a pure breed because while pure breeds may make us a lot more money for the clinic, we didn't join the profession to make money off of poorly bred animals and heartbroken pet parents. Contrary to the recent popular belief, we aren't in it for the money (if we were, we'd be MDs or in a much more financially lucrative field—and a quick Google search of our student debt/income ratio will quickly refute this myth).
Finally—and this is my own opinion based on seeing a lot of canine patients as well as growing up with dogs—mixed breed dogs also generally have a better temperament with less behavioral issues. In particular, while anxiety-based behavioral disorders increased exponentially amongst pets in the last few years, I have also noticed a correlation between specific pure breeds and the development of anxiety (particularly prone pure breeds appear to be mini Australian shepherds and cross-bred doodle breeds), but I have not noticed a trend in mixed breed dogs. With that being said, if a mixed breed dog experienced a life event that triggered behavioral issues, then of course like any other dogs they may be prone to developing anxiety, fear based aggression, and any other plethora of behavioral issues. But as far as I have seen and heard, they do not appear to be particularly prone to it compared to pure breeds.
If you're considering welcoming a rescue into your home, consider the benefits of mixed breeds. And of course, if you have any questions, the team at Pawp is here to help 24/7.