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Unfortunately, this is taught to veterinary surgeons too and they reinforce it with the public. Of course, the reality that there are inherited issues makes that seem logical. But the fact is, most inherited issues represent a very small portion of a pedigreed population. Breeders can evaluate pedigrees and eliminate risk.

Mixed breed dogs have no such luck. They may have inherited issues from all the breeds behind them, rather than a single breed. And no one works to minimize the number of issues in a mutt.

You would think veterinarians would pay attention to the fact that the majority of their animal clients are likely mixed of breed, yet they have all the issues represented by their pedigreed clients combined.

Jemima Harrison

"As a result, purebreds in the US have never been healthier. If anyone has a credible, longitudinal, peer-reviewed study proving otherwise, please send it in."

And perhaps you could provide a credible, longitudinal, peer-reviewed study proving that "purebreds in the US have never been healthier'?

You cannot state that the critics' arguments are meaningless without hard data and then yourself make such a bold claim (that US purebreds have never been healthier) without too providing hard data.

Re purebred v mutt health, there is a considerable amount of evidence out there and although some suggest no difference, I've yet to find one that shows that purebreds are healthier. Here are some refs for you:

• B.N. Bonnett, A. Egenvall, P. Olson, A. Hedhammar, Mortality in Swedish dogs: rates and causes of death in various breeds, The Veterinary Record, 1997. ("Mongrels were consistently in the low-risk category.")

• P.D. McGreevy & W.F. Nicholas, Some Practical Solutions to Welfare Problems in Pedigree Dog Breeding, Animal Welfare, 1999. ("Hybrids have a far lower chance of exhibiting the disorders that are common with the parental breeds. Their genetic health will be substantially higher.")

• A. Egenvall, B.N. Bonnett, P. Olson, A. Hedhammar, Gender, age, breed and distribution of morbidity and mortality in insured dogs in Sweden during 1995 and 1996, The Veterinary Record, 2000. ("Mongrel dogs are less prone to many diseases then the average purebred dog.")

• A. R. Michell, Longevity of British breeds of dog and its relationship with sex, size, cardiovascular variables and disease, Veterinary Record, 1999. ("There was a significant correlation between body weight and longevity. Crossbreeds lived longer than average but several pure breeds lived longer than cross breeds, notably Jack Russell, miniature poodles and whippets”.)

• G.J. Patronek, D.J. Walters, L.T. Glickman, Comparative Longevity of Pet Dogs and Humans: Implications for Gerontology Research, Journal of Gerontology, Biological Sciences, 1997. ("The median age at death was 8.5 years for all mixed breed dogs and 6.7 years for all pure breed dogs. For each weight group, the age at death of pure breed dogs was significantly less than for mixed breed dogs.")

• H.F. Proschofsky et al, Mortality of purebred and mixed breed dogs in Denmark, Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 2003. (Higher average longevity of mixed breed dogs. Age at death when split into three age bands: mixed breeds 8,11,13, purebreds 6, 10, 12.)

• Marta Vascellar et al, Animal tumour registry of two provinces in northern Italy: incidence of spontaneous tumours in dogs and cats. BMC Veterinary Research 2009. (“In both dogs and cats, purebreds had an almost two-fold higher incidence of malignant tumours than mixed breeds.”)

• Agneta Egenvall et al, Mortality in over 350,000 Insured Swedish Dogs from 1995–2000; Breed-Specific Age and Survival Patterns and Relative Risk for Causes of Death. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, 2005. (No difference overall, but mongrels low-risk for locomotor problems and heart disease.)

Jemima Harrison
Pedigree Dogs Exposed


"As a result, purebreds in the US have never been healthier."

I can only speak to my own breed, but I wouldn't take a show-bred, weak-hocked, roach-backed German Shepherd whose only bred-for function appears to be to run around a ring, if they were giving them away for free - and that's from someone who has had shepherds for 30 years. I can no longer even watch them flail around the ring.


I've had mutts and I also have purebreds. My registered purebreds get health checks, genetic tests if I'm going to be breeding them, and have to prove themselves in the show ring as well as the whelping box before their genes are passed on. Can you say that about that mutt down the street that runs loose? My dogs also live to be between 15 and 19 years old. Seems to me that we purebred dog people are doing something right don't you think? I would be more impressed with those who state that mutts are healthier if they would do all the same health testing we do on our purebreds before they go into a home or reproduce. Nope, give me a purebred show dog any day as a pet, and for the fun of spending time with it and other people who enjoy working with their dogs.

T. Leigh

There is a continuum of genetic diversity in both mixed breeds and purebreds. Increased mobility in the modern world allows for intentional breeding events between animals from geographically separate gene pools whereas mongrel breeding is by nature incidental and not aimed at solving gentic issues. There a few reasons that responsible, science-based breeding efforts cannot bolster the genetic and physical robustness of purebred dogs. Genetics is a complex science and research developments allow for advanced understanding of genetic linkage, inheritance, and expression.


let's stop being so general in our speaking. it's impossible to successfully generalize when there are hundreds of breeds of dogs in north america alone.

the bottom line is that some breeds are quite healthy, some are a mess, and most are somewhere in between.

i'd also bet you good money that purebreds would be disproportionately represented on BOTH the very healthiest AND very sickest ends of the spectrum if a definitive health test by weight class is ever done.

that's what happens when you have strong, WELL-BRED bloodlines where breeders test, conscientiously breed for health, and take full advantage of new advancements in biology vs. people who don't have a clue as to what they're doing, breeding dogs because they think the puppies will be "cute," or because their breed is "cool" and they want to make a quick buck.

Julia Priest

Its very simple: If you don't like what you see in the show ring, don't buy one. If you want a mutt, then have one. Stop trying to legislate other peoples' enjoyment of whatever dog they choose to own. I chose my breed for the distinct characteristics that come with it and make it the most universally used working dog in the world. I don't care for the type I see in the show ring, so I don't breed to them. But I have no issue with those who enjoy that type. Its their business, and if you think those dogs are all miserable while mutts lead the life of riley, that probably only happens on your planet. Ain't that way here on earth. Most show dogs are pampered beyond belief while most mutts live pretty lousy and short lives -- "running free" to be hit by cars, shot by farmers, starve to death or be the victims of predation. There are exceptions to both, but can't you "activists" find something more important to bitch about?I find it so peculiar that the same folks who have no compunction whatever about cavalierly ending an incipient human life are all up in arms over whether a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is happy with its short muzzle and hairy feet. Priorities, people. All screwed up.


Merial, the animal health company, conducted some large-scale surveys of cardiac disease in dogs during the early to mid 1990's; there were several TENS of thousands of dogs in total.

The data are not mine to describe in detail, but much of it was published in several "bulletins" and ads from Merial (or Merck AgVet, as it was known then). Mutts, including known crosses, as a group had just about the same proportion of heart disease issues as purebreds overall. In detail, certain types of heart disease were more common in some breeds and less common in others.

For example, some toy breeds, but not all, had a lot of mitral valve insufficiency, while this was rare in larger dogs. Certain medium-to-large breeds, but not all, had a lot of cardiomyopathy ("enlarged heart"), and this was rare in both toy breeds and giant breeds. Some giant breeds had other kinds of heart disease that were rarely or never seen in smaller dogs.

Known mixes, for example, cock-a-poos, resembled the parent breeds; they were NOT healthier than the parent breeds, despite the possibility of "hybrid vigor".

And some popular breeds in all size ranges and all AKC Groups, had little or NO heart problems what-so-freakin-ever.

Bottom line: with respect to heart disease, mutts are NOT healthier (on the average) than purebreds (on the average), and mutts are significantly less heart-healthy than the healthiest pure breeds.


I think we can all sit and site resources and studies, some American, some not. Just like we can sit and argue the true definition of Hybrid Vigor, purebreds (1 breed) vs crossbreeds (two breeds) vs mutts (Heinz 57). In all those categories genetic variation cannot be accurately measured and compared nor can we even begin to discuss the difference in breeding practices amongst those that produce dogs. For any study to be valid in comparison of the three types of dogs you would have to have 100% participation of all dog owners with complete disclosure on breeding techniques and practices, genetics, health screenings, etc. And lets face it, that won't ever happen.

Unless 100% of all dog owners and breeders participate in studies that compare breeding practices, genetics and health issues we will never have a complete understanding. And frankly, there are too many variations to ever have consensus.

What I can speak of anecdotally as a Vet Tech and former shelter worker and rescue person is that mixes, mutts and purebreds of unknown origin are not and have not proven to be healthier or happier or shown to make better pets. What I have seen from this population of dog fist hand is dogs who suffer from a multitude of preventable disease (Heart, Eyes and Joint) and any combination of zoonotic disease from exposure and a lack of routine care. This population of dog is a complete genetic crap shoot and if rescued likely needs immediate medical attention to treat anything from Fleas and Ticks to Giardia, Heartworm, Mites, Kennel Cough, Mange, Parvo, etc.

Granted, we all know purebreds are effected by the same disease, but depending on the source of your purebred, some if not most of the same afflictions can be prevented and avoided. And you potentially have a great amount of history on your pet and a wealth of information from the breeder. Something you will have none of or little of from other dog populations or those places the animals were acquired from.

In above read arguments, I see hodge podge studies and comparative analysis that are incomplete at best. Using those studies to legislate breeding practices or standards, breed specific legislation, animal husbandry practices, etc is absurd. Those, like Jemima Harrison, who attempting to mandate or promote legislation or change public opinion based on incomplete data are doing so more based on emotion or opinion and are steeped in personal agenda rather than anything truly academic or scientific accepted as fact.

We all have to understand that animals, like humans are complex genetic creatures. We will never have assembly line perfection when it comes to health, build or temperament. Dogs can't be expected to come with "Inspected by Goerge" stickers and a manufactures warranty nor should we ever push towards that as a goal. Likewise we should not take away the diversity of the dog community be it purebreds, crossbreds or mutts by removing dog owners right to choose the type and source or their next pet.


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