Purebred Vs Mixed Breed: Everything You Should Know
There has been a lot said when it comes to whether or not a mixed breed dog is healthier (or not) than a purebred dog. There certainly seems to be a surplus of health benefits for mixed breed dogs as compared to their purebred counterparts. With that said, however, this isn’t to say there aren’t any benefits in choosing a purebred dog. So if you’re looking to bring a furry friend into your home but are worried whether a purebred or mixed breed is right for you, sit back and relax. We’re going to uncover the benefits of mixed breed dogs and purebred, purebred vs mutt health and life expectancy, and more!
Benefits of Mixed Breed Dogs
Get That Same Breed Look: Some dog owners are looking for a puppy with a distinct look, say a husky or a chow chow. Many mixed breed dogs will tend to physically resemble one breed more than the other, so you can get pretty close to a purebred look for your dog while still adopting mixed breed.
OR Get a Unique Look: On the other hand, if you like the uniqueness of a mixed breed dog, then it’s possible to find a dog that doesn’t look like other dogs. Take Basil for instance — a 3-year-old mixed breed dog (photo submitted by a staff member!). Take a second to guess what breed he is. We’ll give you a second.
Price: A key benefit of mixed breed dogs is that they come at a much cheaper price than those from the breeders of purebred dogs. While their personalities and growth may come as a surprise to you, the experience will be well worth the wait (and the wait itself is so much fun) if you love surprises and being spontaneous. And back to the question — what breed is Basil? If you guessed husky/labrador, you’re a winner!
Benefits of Purebred Dogs
One misconception people have about purebred dogs is that all purebred dogs are not as healthy as their mixed counterpart. While there is research that suggests this is true for some breeds (and we’ll get to this soon), there are various factors that influence the life expectancy and health of purebred dogs.
Specifically Selected Parents: In most cases, dogs breeders have selected the parents (sire and dam) specifically for health and desired breed traits to ensure that their puppies will be happy and healthy.
You Know What to Expect: When you get a purebred dog, you can expect to know how large they will get, their temperament, and more. If you’re living in a smaller home or work long hours, you can choose a dog that is suited for your lifestyle; whereas a mixed breed dog may have some surprises that might not be as easily manageable.
Ease With Training: With a purebred dog, you (and potential trainers) have a better idea of what to expect with your furry friend. What this means is that a dog might not have the temperament you’re looking for — and you won’t know this until they are older. For Basil for instance — part husky and part lab. While the lab in him makes him viable as a great service dog, the husky portion of him might make service or guide training difficult. Speaking directly with Basil’s owner, it’s clear that… the latter is true. He is apparently impossible to train. While this varies across the board, a purebred dog lets you know what to expect, so you can pick a pup with a training regimen in mind.
Purebred Vs Mutt: The Major Health Differences
When comparing purebred vs mutt health, there are some differences in how purebred and mixed breed dogs inherit genetic disorders. A study conducted by the Institute of Canine Biology examined cases of 24 different genetic disorders and found that across the board, 10 disorders occurred more frequently in purebreds, 1 disorder occurred more frequently in mixed breeds and then the last 13 disorders did not appear more frequently in either dog.
So this means that you should only adopt a mixed breed dog, right? Nothing is ever that simple. Let’s just examine two of the disorders more frequented in purebred dogs: atopy (or allergies). Studies found that 1 percent of mixed breed dogs were affected by allergies. In contrast, some of the top purebred dogs with allergies included the West Highland White Terrier (8.2%), Coonhound (8%), and Wirehaired Fox Terrier (8%). Now let’s look at bloat in dogs. With mixed breeds, we are again at less than 1 percent. The breeds that bloat was most present in were Saint Bernard (3.7%), Irish Setter (3.4%), and Bloodhounds (3.4%).
What does this mean?
In these two categories of disorders, purebred dogs did exhibit symptoms more often; however, not all purebreds were at the same risk for the same diseases. Consider how some dogs are more apt to be a ‘watchdog’ or protective dog, and others are more apt to live in a small apartment than others. Obviously, not all dogs are the same. So do mixed breed dogs really have fewer health problems? The answer is not so definitive. Mixed breed dogs are not going to be healthier than purebreds all the time. While some breeds may be at a higher risk for health problems, every dog is different.
Furthermore, many dogs will go on without developing any particular health complications. If you want to know the health patterns for a specific breed of a dog, you’ll get a better expectation of what to look for throughout their life by talking to a breeder or by doing more breed-specific research.
Purebred vs Mixed Breed Life Expectancy
Not much will be said about life expectancy that hasn’t already been said about purebred vs mutt health. There are a multitude of factors that impact the life expectancy of a dog.
Wellness Care: Of course, if you invest in how you care for your dog — by adhering to the Veterinary recommendation for annual or semi-annual wellness exams — then your dog will be more primed to live a longer and healthier life.
Dog Size: Additionally, research on the size of the dog has shown that some larger dogs may have a life expectancy of around 7-10 years, while smaller ones may have up to 13-16 years. These, of course, aren’t hard numbers, but general observations.
The Real Question: Even though research has indicated that mixed breed dogs show signs of longer life expectancy, proper dog care will always be key in making sure your dog — no matter the size, no matter their lineage — will live a long and happy life beside you!
Really, the decision to choose a dog that’s either mixed breed or purebred is entirely up to you. Each has its own unique strengths which can make for a fun (albeit different) experience for you and your family. Even with all these facts in place, it’s important to remember that each dog is different. While they may react to things in very similar fashions, every dog has its own special personality and spirit which will make the overall experience all-the-more fun!
How to Choose a Dog: What Is The Best Type of Pet For Me?
When it comes to finding the best type of pet for your family, it’s important to consider the needs of you and your family first. Of course, your lifestyle will need some adjusting when introducing a furry friend into the mix, so choosing a new family member that best accommodates your current family and lifestyle will make the experience easier for everyone. Knowing what to look for when choosing a pet and more importantly, why these factors matter will help. Here’s how to choose a dog that’s perfect for your family and lifestyle!
When choosing a pet, consider your housing situation first. If you live in an apartment complex with a shared backyard space versus a house with a private yard space, your options for dogs may vary. Obviously, larger breeds will need more space to run around and play in. Of course, how you plan on caring for your dog may change the situation.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re looking to bring a large dog into the family, make sure that your home can accommodate them comfortably. There are obvious exceptions to the rule, such as bulldogs and greyhounds — although there are caveats (we’ll explain them next!).
The best type of pets for small apartments will be the smaller puppers that don’t mind a day (or a few hours) indoors. Additionally, if you live in an apartment complex, know the management’s policy on dogs. The ‘perfect dog for me’ might not be the ‘perfect dog for your housing complex’. Instead, mix the demands of your family with the demands of your complex when choosing the best type of pet for you. If your complex only allows for small dogs, then breeds such as German shepherds and Huskies will not be allowed. Consider the long-term living arrangements with your furry friend and how large they are expected to grow.
For small apartments, Boston terriers, chihuahuas, pugs, Basenjis, and similar small dogs may be the best type of pet for you. For a large home, you don’t really face any constraints.
Your lifestyle and living arrangement can supplement each other at times. Back to the bulldogs and greyhounds — while they are more than happy to relax around the house, they will require daily physical activity such as long walks or trips to the dog park.
When choosing a pet, you must consider your lifestyle. If you are the type to naturally be active (or have a family that is more than willing to take their turn walking the dog), then a more active dog that can accompany you on walks and runs will be the best type of pet for you. These include Huskies, German shepherds, golden and lab retrievers, border collies, and more! For dogs requiring less exercise, consider English bulldogs, chow chows, Boston terriers, pugs, and more. Note that some of these breeds will still require a walk at least once a day, but every dog is different and has different needs. Look into breed characteristics to figure out the best type of pet for you.
Similar to lifestyle, you should know how much time you can dedicate to your pup. For instance, will someone (not necessarily you at all times) be around your pup? Will your dog have to deal with perhaps 2-3 hours of alone time or will it be closer to 8 hours? When asking ‘how to choose a dog’ for you, it’s important to consider both what you need and also what your dog will need. Of course, if you have to leave your dog home alone for 8+ hours a day, your dog will manage; however, there are some dogs that are better equipped to stay at home alone for longer periods of time. These may be the “perfect dog for me”. The best type of low maintenance breeds include Labradoodles, Boston terriers, English foxhound, Shiba Inu, and chows. Depending on the breed, consider getting a doggie door. While the addition of a doggie door can create additional safety considerations, often these can be helpful in ensuring your pet has the opportunity to potty and get some exercise on their own.
Alternatively, there are options to get your dog exercise while you’re at the office. For instance, apps like Wag! or Rover have people standing by to walk dogs for about $20 a walk. Or, if your office is dog-friendly (and you are opting for a dog that can be trained more easily), you can bring in your pup.
Will Fido be introduced to small children, other dogs, cats, and/or smaller pets like birds or snakes? Because there are different things you should know about each sibling, we’ll break down the differences when choosing a pet for you.
Children. There has been some back and forth on when you should introduce a dog to a child. Is 1-years-old too young? How about 5-years-old? A good rule to follow is that for families with children under 6 years old, you may be able to adopt a dog over 2 years old. Why not a puppy and a child at the same time? A puppy — even a breed that tends to be lower maintenance — requires more time and energy during their growing years than adult years. You will be constrained for time and need to allocate resources carefully. Additionally, puppies go through a teething phase that may be harmful for new children and toddlers. Additionally, anything from rough play to growing dogs ~unaware of their own growth ~ can pose a risk to smaller children.
Other Dogs. When choosing a pet, it’s important to note that some dogs are lone wolves. Some breeds prefer human companionship to other dogs and may even be jealous when you’re at the dog park petting another dog. Border collies, Australian shepherds, German shepherds, Samoyed, pugs, and poodles are just some of the people-focused dog breeds. This isn’t to say they do not do well with other dogs; many do. You just need to properly socialize them and get them accustomed to sharing attention with other dogs.
Cats. There are ways to socialize and safely introduce cats and dogs that are unfamiliar with each other. Again, a lot of this will depend on the nature of your dog and cat, but there may be a considerable amount of time investment. For instance, one animal may send a ‘play’ signal that the other species interprets as threatening or dangerous. It’s important to know the socialization steps involved with introducing a dog to a cat. If you have the time and resources to do this, then here is a nifty guide on starting the process. It’s also important to see if a dog can handle co-opting a space with a cat.
Small Animals. When it comes to a dog co-opting a space with a bird, iguana, or turtle, you’re facing an uphill battle. There will be a lot of time that you’ll need to dedicate to training your furry friend as to not harm your other critter at home. Teaching your dog commands such as ‘leave it’ or ‘out’ (spit out) may be handy in training your dog on what they can or cannot do.
That’s Just The Tip of the Iceberg
Obviously, there will be many more things to consider when it comes to picking the best type of pet for your home. It may seem like an exhaustive search; however, when it comes to choosing a pet, remember that you are bringing a new member into your family so it’s important to make sure it’s a good match. There are many questionnaires and quizzes for you to check out to get you closer to your next match! Check out IAMS, American Kennel Club, Pedigree, and Purina to help close the gap between you and your next best friend!
We know you think your pup is pretty great…and we would agree! What we can also agree on is how not-so-great fleas and ticks are, and how much they like to attack our furry family members!
There is nothing more unnerving than finding a flea or tick on your pet. Suddenly every dusty corner, every patch of grass or couch cushion could be the new home to these nasty parasites, who are waiting for their next meal…this is the worst! Unfortunately, one of their favorite homesteads is the silky and warm fur of our beloved furry family members.
With the serious health risks associated with fleas and ticks that can affect your pet – and even your family – it’s important to protect your pet all year long. In addition to causing an incessant itching, flea bites can cause dermatitis, anemia, and can even result in permanent hair loss or other skin problems as a result of all the scratching by your pet. Ticks can carry an array of diseases including Lyme disease, which can cause arthritis and painful joint issues. So as the saying goes, “prevention is the best medicine” for sure!
Tips & Tricks: How to Keep Parasites Away From Your Pet
The first and most important step is to keep your pet protected with a flea and tick preventative year-round. In Arizona, there is no such thing as ‘flea and tick season’, so keeping them protected year-round is your best bet. Our veterinarians work with you to prescribe the right preventative for you and your pet, whether it be chewable, non-chewable, or topical protection methods. The preventative medications kill adult fleas, ticks, and any larvae present as well as continue to protect until the next dose is due. Talk with us at your next appointment about what medication will work best for your pet.
So You Found a Flea or Tick: What Now?
If you have started a flea and tick preventative because you already found a flea and or tick in your home or on your pet, it is highly recommended to consult an exterminator that can come treat your home and yard for parasites. It’s important to keep the rest of your pets – and family members – protected.
Check Expiry Dates
If you have flea and tick medications sitting in your cabinet that have expired, it’s time to throw them out! When the drug is administered past the expiration date, the true effectiveness of the medication decreases and puts your pup at risk of attracting fleas and ticks.
We all know that dogs love playing outside, and anytime your pet is exposed to an area that may harbor fleas and ticks, make sure to check your pup’s skin, ears, and armpits for these pests.If you end up finding any fleas and ticks on their skin or suspected bites, contact us immediately.
Make sure your dog gets regular check-ups – both from us and from you! During their annual wellness exam with our team, we examine them for any parasites to ensure the preventative being used is working as expected. This allows us to detect any problems in a timely manner and provide any treatment if needed. Throughout the course of the year, make sure you are also taking the time to check your furry friend on a regular basis (run your hands slowly and thoroughly across the skin surface and throughout the hair of your pet at least once a month). It just takes a few minutes!
Prevention is a Must
Ultimately, fleas and ticks can be scary to your dog’s health and well-being. Fortunately, flea and tick prevention medications are readily available to help protect your furry family member from these nasty critters. For more information and to talk about what prevention method would be best for your individual pet, don’t hesitate to ask us at your next appointment. As your trusted partners in pet healthcare, we are here to help you give your pet a long, happy, and healthy life!
As residents of Arizona, it once seemed that heartworm disease was not a big problem for our furry family members. It was easy for us to assume our furry family members are protected from heartworm disease since mosquitos are typically found in wet climates. However, the fact is that heartworm cases have increased exponentially over the last several years, having been documented in all 50 states – including a record of 397 positive cases right here in Maricopa County in 2018. With this in mind, we wanted to share some information about heartworm disease in order to help you make informed decisions on these important areas that impact the health and wellness of your pet.
What exactly is heartworm disease? Heartworm is a serious parasitic disease found primarily in dogs and cats. In reality, we are talking about actual worms, and potentially many of them (up to several hundred!). The worms can be up to a foot-long and live directly within the heart or the neighboring large blood vessels for years. As heartworm disease advances, it can result in a myriad of health complications for our pets including severe lung disease, heart failure, damage to other organs, and can even be fatal.
How does a pet get heartworm? All it takes is a bite from a mosquito that is carrying the disease. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell if a mosquito is a carrier of the disease, which is why prevention is the best protection we can give to our pets.
What are the symptoms of heartworm disease? Although there are minimal symptoms in the beginning stages, the longer the infection is present the more likely symptoms will arise. The most common symptoms are coughing, fatigue and decreased appetite. Because symptoms are usually well hidden in the early stages, prevention is key to help avoid the life-long impact that heartworm disease can have on our pets.
How do we prevent heartworm disease? Heartworm prevention is as easy as a monthly oral or topical medication that you can pick up at your next appointment. Heartworm medications cannot prevent infection from occurring but instead treats the disease by clearing out any existing heartworm larvae that were transmitted since their last monthly treatment. We also recommend an annual blood test to help ensure that the preventative is working as expected. With an annual test at our hospital combined with your commitment to providing the monthly preventatives at home, we have the best shot of protecting your pet from this preventable disease.
Why you should incorporate a heartworm preventative into your pet’s wellness plan:
We understand that adding a heartworm preventative can feel like a big step, adding a little bit of expense and time each month. However, prevention is incredibly easy in comparison to the alternative – once your pet is infected with heartworms, treatment is costly and difficult for both you, and especially, your pet. Treatment includes antibiotics, steroids, preventatives, and monthly injections to kill the adult worms, as well as hospitalization for your pet, and ongoing treatment and testing.
Talk with us at your next appointment for more information on the preventative options for your pet. As always, we’re here to be your trusted partner to help ensure that your pet’s healthcare plan provides them with a happy and healthy life by your side! Find an AZPetVet location near you.