Are mixed breed dogs healthier than purebred dogs? – American Kennel Club
For over 30 years I was a veterinarian at one of the largest emergency veterinary hospitals in the country. Each year, our hospital treats over 11,000 cats and dogs in our emergency room. Thousands more see our veterinary specialists. As you can guess, I’ve taken care of a lot of dogs and I’ve probably seen just about every type of canine disease you can imagine. I am also a longtime owner and breeder of Afghan Hounds. One thing I’ve learned from my experience is that when it comes to illness, almost any dog can get sick. Despite articles claiming that mixed-breed dogs are healthier than purebred dogs, my extensive first-hand experience and a major study conducted by the University of California-Davis tell us otherwise.
A common misconception
The study, titled “Prevalence of inherited disorders in mixed-breed and purebred dogs: 27,254 cases (1995-2010),” was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association on June 1, 2013. The research has used more than 27,000 patient cases. to determine the probability of occurrence of 24 of the most common hereditary diseases in dogs. Despite articles that claim there is a higher concentration of hereditary diseases in purebred dogs, this extensive study proves otherwise.
What the researchers found was: “Of the 24 disorders assessed, 13 had no significant difference in the mean proportion of purebred and mixed-breed dogs with the disorder when matched for age, sex and body weight.” One disorder was more common in mixed-breed dogs and the other 10 were more common in purebred dogs, although no one breed was dominant in suffering a particular disease. Many of these disorders often attributed to a specific breed are just as likely to be found in mixed breed dogs, including common health issues such as lymphoma, mast cell tumor, specific heart problems, dysplasia of hip and lens dislocation.
This makes sense since most domestic dogs are thought to be descended from a handful of wolf bloodlines. As a result, all dogs share strong genetic tendencies, some of which are health related. In purebred dogs, national breed clubs such as the Golden Retriever Club of America and the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation have worked together to identify breeds at increased risk for specific health issues and to take action. to minimize the risk. In fact, the Canine Health Foundation has funded over $35 million in research to improve the health and well-being of dogs.
How can I be sure to have a healthy dog?
So, perhaps the most important question is, “How can potential dog owners increase their chances of having a healthy dog?” The good news is that through the work of the American Kennel Club, their Canine Health Foundation, and breed clubs, responsible breeders are able to reduce the risk of some of the most common diseases in dogs. Breed groups recommend specific testing for disease before breeding a dog. Responsible breeders use these tests before breeding dogs, reducing the risk of a specific disease in the puppies they produce.
For example, in my dear Afghan hounds, responsible breeders usually test potential breeding pairs for hip dysplasia and juvenile cataracts. In raising nine generations of Afghan Hounds, I have never had a dog with either of these health issues. I have always bred dogs with personality and health as priorities. As a result, I have no doubt that my Afghan Hounds today are better dogs than my first generation.
People choose dogs for a variety of reasons. Sometimes appearance plays a role, but it certainly isn’t, and shouldn’t be, the only factor. Whether you’re choosing a dog from a breeder or a shelter, it’s important to remember that any dog, like anyone, can get sick in their lifetime. All dog owners should be prepared for this eventuality, because the fact is that dogs, like people, suffer from a number of hereditary diseases. This is true for all dogs, whether purebred or mixed.
Do your homework
The best way to minimize the risk of serious illness is to do your homework. If you’re going for a purebred dog, be aware of what the breed club recommends in terms of health testing. Work with a responsible breeder who uses testing and breeds ethically. If you are choosing a dog from a shelter, find out about the animal and its possible mix of breeds. Then choose the pet that best suits you and your lifestyle and work with your veterinarian to keep your dog as healthy as possible. Most importantly, choose a dog you love and are prepared to care for, sick and healthy, for the rest of its life.
Dr. Jerry Klein is an emergency and critical care veterinarian who has been a valued member of the Chicago veterinary community for over 35 years. In addition to his work as a veterinarian, Dr. Klein is a licensed judge for the AKC and has judged shows nationally and internationally.