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Mixed Breed Dogs

A mixed breed puppy is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

What is a mixed breed dog? 

53% of all of the dogs in the United States are Mixed breed dogs (1). A mixed breed dog (mongrel, mutt, designer dog) is a dog whose parents are mixed breed dogs or are two different purebred dogs. Mixes are typically the result of accidental matings. Mixed breed designer dogs, however, are intentional breedings between two purebred dogs, for example, the Labradoodle, which is a mix of Labrador Retriever and Poodle. 


Advantages of Mixed Breed Dogs

  • 42% lower incidence of 10 genetic disorders (2)

  • On average live 1.2 years longer than purebreds (2)

  • One-of-a-Kind appearance 

  • Less genetic specialization can make them better able to fit into a variety of living situations

  • 3.3 million dogs enter shelters every year (670,000 euthanized), adopting a rescue dog saves a life (3)


Disadvantages of Mixed Breed Dogs

  • Mixed breed dogs have increased incidence of behavioral problems (4)

  • Their parents have not been medically or behavioral screened and likely have not been properly socialized 

  • Difficult to predict a mixed breed puppy’s physical and behavioral traits 

  • Not specifically bred for specific specialized skills, such as herding, hunting, carting, tracking, police 



Mixed breed dogs vary in shape, coat color, ear types, and tails styles. Their size tends to be in between their parents’ size. After just one crossbreeding, mixed breed dogs begin to lose the extreme physical characteristics of their purebred parents. The Basset Hound mix's ears shorten a bit, the Bulldog mix’s face elongates, the extreme height of the Wolfhound mix diminishes. Even purebred puppies do not resemble the adult dogs they will become, which makes predicting the adult appearance of a mixed-breed puppy nearly impossible -- truly a box of chocolates. 


After many generations of mixed breeding, a “type” emerges. These multi-generational mutts tend to be light brown (think “Old Yeller”), black or brown coat with black across the top. Small to medium size, they weigh about 40 lb., measuring between 15 and 23 inches at the shoulders. (2)


Doggie DNA kits are now available to mixed breed dog owners who are curious about their dog's ancestry.  A simple saliva sample can provide directional information about ancestry (although accuracy is still being debated), breed health information and most importantly, can screen for over 150 health conditions and a handful of genetic conditions. 

Most Popular Breeds In Mixed Breed Dogs (1)    

  1. German Shepherd (No. 2 most popular AKC registered breed)

  2. Labrador Retriever No.1 most popular AKC registered breed)

  3. Chow Chow (No. 63 most popular AKC registered breed)

  4. Boxer (No. 6 most popular AKC registered breed)

  5. Rottweiler (No.13 most popular AKC registered breed)

  6. Poodle (No.9 most popular AKC registered breed)

  7. American Staffordshire Terrier (No. 70 most popular AKC registered breed)

  8. Golden Retriever (No. 4 most popular AKC registered breed)

  9. Cocker Spaniel (No. 23 most popular AKC registered breed)

  10. Siberian Husky (No. 22 most popular AKC registered breed)


Mixed Breed Dog Temperament

A pair of investigations from  7,700 purebred dogs (more than 200 breeds) and 7,691 mixed-breed dogs found important personality differences between purebred and mixed breed dogs. (4)


  • Mixed-breed dogs were significantly less calm, demonstrating anxious or stressed behaviors; they were less emotionally balanced and less cool-headed

  • Mixed breed dogs were also considerably less sociable toward other dogs, more apt to be quarrelsome and rated as being bullying. They were less friendly and less willing to share toys  

  • Mixed breed dogs were more likely to show behavior problems, including pulling on the leash, not responding when called, jumping up on people, dominance behaviors etc.


Luckily purebred and mixed-breed dogs showed little or no differences in terms of their trainability and a personality trait called boldness/fearfulness. This is great news because it means owners can take steps to solve their dog’s behavioral issues! 


Why the personality differences between purebred and mixed breed dogs? Possibilities include the following correlated factors

  • Purebred dogs are usually subject to careful selective breeding for health and temperament

  • Mixed breeds were older when acquired

  • Mixed breed dogs were more likely to be neutered

  • Mixed breed owners had less dog-owning experiences and were less likely to seek formal training

  • Mixed breed dogs were more likely to be kept indoors 


Tips for Training Mixed Breed Dogs Struggling With Behavior Problems

While behavioral problems could be, at least partially, attributed to genetic factors, the good news is that most of the factors associated with increased behavior problems in mixed breeds can be overcome through training and a comprehensive behavioral modification program by a qualified, effective dog behaviorist. For example, dogs who received more training scored higher in calmness and sociability and had fewer behavioral problems. 


Mixed breed dogs are a behavioral black box. We don’t know their genetic make-up or their past experiences, some of which might have been severely traumatic. Even so, we do know that mixed breed dogs tend to have problems associated with anxiety, stress, sociability and aggression. 


The good news? Except in rare cases, your dog can overcome behavioral issues and have a more enjoyable life!, Most mixed breed behavior problems can be modified through effective training and behavior modification. If problems are getting in the way of your relationship with your dog, particularly, anxiety or aggression, seek out the advice of a dog behaviorist. They will make a diagnosis and provide guidelines and tips to improve the dog's quality of life.


Luckily, there are people like John Rodriguez of Elite Canine who are skilled and willing to come into your home to assist with aggressive dog training. John has dedicated his life to helping countless dogs and their owners overcome challenges for a more enjoyable relationship. Over the years, John has produced countless success stories. If you are looking for a smile or some hope check out some of the testimonials on his website, testimonials.


John provides in your home training or "In Our Home Doggie Bootcamp" where he welcomes your dog into his family for a few weeks to help nurture and foster a positive relationship.  If you don’t live in Connecticut, Westchester County or surrounding area, you can easily access the talents of John Rodriguez by booking a phone consultation. John can give you insight into what training your dog may need and what to look for in a local trainer near you.


(1) A National Census of Mixed Breed Dogs. Data on the number and ancestry of mutts in America. Psychologytoday Posted Jun 28, 2011

(2) The study by Bellumori et al (2013) used medical records from the veterinary clinic at UC Davis for more than 27,000 dogs and compared the incidence of 24 genetic disorders in mixed versus purebred dogs. 

(3) Longevity and mortality of owned dogs in England. Health of purebred vs mixed breed dogs: the actual data 3/29/2015 By Carol Beuchat PhD 

(4) ASPCA 

(5) Do Purebred and Mixed-Breed Dogs Show Behavior Differences? The likelihood of behavior problems differs for purebred vs mixed-breed dogs. Psychologytoday Posted Mar 01, 2017

(6) "National Mutt Census" Mars Veterinary gathered data on American mixed breed pups to determine genetic breed history  

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