Are Mixed Breed Dogs Healthier Than Purebred Dogs? – American Kennel Club
For over 30 years, I worked as a veterinarian in one of the largest veterinary emergency 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 have taken care of a lot of dogs and have probably seen just about any type of canine disease you can imagine. I am also a long-time owner and breeder of Afghan hounds. One thing I have learned from my experience is that when it comes to illness, just about any dog ââcan get sick. Despite articles claiming that mixed breed dogs are healthier than purebred dogs, my extensive firsthand experience and a major study conducted by the University of California-Davis, tells us the opposite.
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 used over 27,000 patient cases. to determine the likelihood of developing 24 of the most common hereditary diseases in dogs. Despite articles claiming that there is a higher concentration of inherited diseases in purebred dogs, this in-depth study proves otherwise.
What the researchers found was that “of the 24 disorders assessed, 13 had no significant difference in the average 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 remaining 10 were more common in purebred dogs, although no breed was dominant to suffer from a particular disease. Many of these disorders which are often attributed to a specific breed are just as likely to occur in mixed breed dogs, including common health problems such as lymphoma, mast cell tumor, specific heart problems, hip dysplasia and lens dislocation.
This makes sense since most domesticated dogs are believed to be the descendants of a handful of wolf bloodlines. As a result, all dogs share strong genetic tendencies, some of which are related to health. 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 problems 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 make sure I 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 their 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 the disease before raising a dog. Responsible breeders use these tests before dogs breed, reducing the risk of a specific disease in the puppies they produce.
For example, in my beloved 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 whose personality and health are my 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 choose 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 possibility because the fact is that dogs, like humans, suffer from a number of inherited conditions. This is true for all dogs, whether they are purebred or mixed breed.
Do your homework
The best way to minimize the risk of serious illness is to do your homework. If you go for a purebred dog, find out 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 at a shelter, educate yourself about the animal and its possible mix of breeds. Then choose the animal that is best for you and that best fits your lifestyle and work with your vet to keep your dog as healthy as possible. Most importantly, choose a dog you love and are willing to care for, whether sick or healthy, for the rest of their 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 both nationally and internationally.