When people say “Mixed Breed Dogs” they can refer to many types of interbreeding. Some may have mongrels or mutts in mind, or more precisely that type of dogs which are the product of natural selection, while others may think of crossbreed dogs, which come into existence through extensive artificial selection. Since “mongrel” sounds somewhat derogatory most people avoid using it, but some experts and connoisseurs of the canine species prefer this term, to better differentiate those dogs from the ones that have a pure breed in their ancestry.
As such, mixed dog breeds are dogs with two or more pure breeds in their family tree, while mutts or mongrels may not have any such “nobility” in their lineage. In this article, we’ll give you all the intel on these type of dogs, we’ll try to answer a few questions you may have about them, and we’ll debunk some myths along the way and also show you some of the cutest half bloods we know.
Why get a half breed?
Well, why should you choose a dog with a mixed heritage? First, you should ask yourself why many people go after purebloods. Maybe you’re even considering this idea yourself, if you’re a first dog owner — to initially get a mutt from the shelter, see how it goes and then trade him up with a dog of pure blood.
A German Shepard goes great if you’re looking for a renowned protector, or a Labrador Retriever if you’re looking for a famous family dog. However, with so many dogs ending up in shelters this way of thinking tends to change, as recently purebreds have gone through a denigration war, being deemed genetically unfit animals which were bred for money by profit-oriented and inhuman people. Conversely, the mixed breeds are seen as more genetically fit, which is again not true.
Believing that getting a half breed will mean getting a calm, friendly, easily trainable and very healthy dog isn’t really what you’re in for. Those are all myths, because there is no one single breed of dogs with mixed heritage, there are a ton of them! Nevertheless, there are some advantages you will definitely get from a mixed bred dog, which you may not get if you’re stubbornly set out to get a pure breed.
- Falling in love. The reasons why people choose certain breeds of dogs are countless, but they’re all rational even if there’s nothing wrong with that. Choosing purebloods seems a bit like an arranged marriage though, while on the other hand choosing a dog with mixed ancestry seems more like falling in love with someone who’s perfect for you, and not overlooking them just because they’re not an exact fit to your initial plan.
So how about instead of thinking: “I’ll get a Sheltie for my daughter, that’s the perfect breed for girls” you’ll think: “My daughter loves biking. I’ll get her a dog that can run along with her!”. So now you’re choosing a dog according to his personality, not according to what a piece of paper says about what he can do.
- Less money. A mixed breed won’t cost you so much to get. If you respond to a newspaper add, or if a family member has one or two puppies to spare, you may pay very little. Besides, a shelter dog only costs around $70, and you’ll also have a guarantee that he’s vaccinated, neutered and walking out of the shelter with a strong bill of health. Even if the shelter wouldn’t sterilize the dog if he’s too young or if he’s in heat, they’ll probably give you a coupon for this procedure.
- No pressure. You don’t have to worry that by not thoroughly (and expensively) training your dog, you’ll waste his potential. Not that that’s a very healthy way of thinking – dogs are just like people from this point of view: give them love and discipline, and that will exercise their minds and bodies better than enrolling them in a dog club.
However, if that’s something you want to do, The American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club offer obedience and agility trainings, and your mixed breed can even get himself accepted in competitions if he’s performing well. He can even become a rescue, therapy or service dog if he has what it takes! But you’ll be sure your dog will do all that because he can and he enjoys working, not because he’s forced to by his genetics.
Why not get a half breed?
- No info. The downside of falling in love with what you think of as the perfect dog, is that you don’t know anything more about him other than his apparent demeanor. As such, he may seem very cute and affectionate one minute, but he may change totally in the next minute. Besides, it’s said that mixed breeds get the best traits from both parents and that couldn’t be further from the truth because there are cases when they get the worst from their genitors.
For example, if you’re thinking about getting a dog and know that one of his parents was a guard dog, you can easily end up with a dominant and aggressive pet, that has to be trained from infancy or otherwise he’ll become very difficult. In fact, a family with children or with adults who don’t have neither strong voices, nor portly countenances isn’t the best environment for them at all.
- No predictions. Since you have very little information about your dog’s background, you can’t guess anything about him in regards to what he’ll look in the future, what size he’ll be, what coat he’ll have etc. You may draw some conclusions if you know who the parents are, but if their genetics is very different that’ll make it impossible too.
- Possibly poor health. All the mixed dog breeds out there are considered to be as fit as a fiddle, even though they can develop the same diseases as their more noble counterparts. Since the law of evolution states that genetic problems are eliminated with every new generation, thanks to the survival of the fittest, it’s believed that with every new non-artificial breeding the dogs will become stronger and healthier.
Nonetheless, a total return to the innocence of wilderness isn’t possible anymore and what’s worse than mixed breeds being prone to the same illnesses is that tracking those illnesses and predicting them is a more difficult endeavor. They can develop all sorts of genetic issues, allergies and autoimmune problems we can’t possibly foresee.
Besides, some mixed breeds end up having bad health tendencies from both their parents instead of having no problem at all. Take the Golden Retriever-Collie for instance, who unfortunately gets the hip dysplasia, heart abnormalities and eye problems because of his lineage. Not to mention that the hip dysplasia is caused by a recessive gene that can actually accentuate and worsen over the course of future generations.
What’s their personality like?
There is no simple answer to that question, and you’ll find that every dog has a mind of their own. You can say that some traits will be more poignant than others, but other factors come into play except their genetics, like how you train them and how early you socialize them. It’s actually very hard to point out exactly how the dogs with mixed breeds will develop personality-wise, although you can hope that they’ll get the most desirable traits from both parents. However, you may very well end up with a very unique dog which gets the best and the worst from his ancestors.
The general rule of thumb here is that if the parents have a similar personality, then the chances are their pup will resemble them. If on the other hand the parents are of distinct temperaments, their puppies will even differ from each other: one may be playful like the mom, but have dad’s stubbornness, while the other may have dad’s looks and mom’s health issues. And if you get the grandparents into the mix, things become way more complicated, because a recessive gene can manifest itself differently throughout generations.
The most friendly and suitable mixed breeds for a family are the ones which have retriever, pointer, setter, or spaniel (except Cocker Spaniel) blood in their lineage, like the Basset, Beagle, Bloodhound, Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Collie, Coonhound, Corgi, Foxhound, Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, Mastiff, Newfoundland, Pug, Samoyed, or Saint Bernard. However, these breeds may be harder to train and they have really high levels of energy.
Another great mix can be attained from Terriers, which tend to be very lively and amusing dogs, fun to be around because they always seem so happy. Conversely, they’re pretty independent and obstinate, not to mention that they tend to bark a lot.
Of course, you can find more dominant and independent mixed breeds if you’re choosing a dog which has parents or grandparents that come from herding breeds or working breeds, like the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Australian Cattle Dog, Bouvier des Flanders, Boxer, Briard, the Belgian breeds, Chinese Shar Pei, Chow Chow, Doberman, Rottweiler, and Siberian Husky.
If you’re looking for a smaller dog and decide to get one with genitors from the Bichon Frise, Chihuahua, Lhasa Apso, Papillon, Pekingese, Poodle, Pomeranian, Shih-Tzu, or Yorkshire Terrier breeds, you’ll discover that they’re also quite dominant and like to bark a lot. Besides, they’re not even so good with children because they don’t like them at all, nor the way kids play.
Basically, if you have a dog with mixed ancestry from parents which are very aggressive or very shy, you can get a neurotic puppy. That can happen if one of the parents is an Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Chow, Cocker Spaniel, Dalmatian, German Shepherd or Rottweiler. So, if you’re faced with the decision of adopting a puppy whose parents or grandparents are a German Shepherd and an Alaskan malamute, you’d better think long and hard if you’re up for that challenge.
What’s their health like?
There’s no easy answer here either, and we’ve already talked about how wrong it is to invest them with assumptions of perfect health. They may bring some fresh blood to the old lineage, but it’s wiser to find out if their parents have had any particular health problems to begin with, and then get the necessary information about the health issues associated with the breeds themselves.
As such, the most common ailments for your mixed breed dog are:
- Allergies to food, shampoo and pollen.
- Hip dysplasia – an inherited condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit perfectly into the hip joint. That’s why dogs with hip dysplasia should never be allowed to breed.
- Ear infections – especially if your dog’s ears are longer.
How do you exercise them?
Basically, a dog will tell you himself when he needs to rest and when he needs to be more active, but you’ll have to be ready to give him the exercise he needs, to teach him new commands and tricks as to stimulate his intelligence, and to give him a lot of affection.
If you want a healthy dog, consider exercising him for about half an hour to an hour on a daily basis, doing whatever he needs to use up his energy. He may need to play fetch with you, to run alongside you when you’re jogging, or he can even be satisfied with walking leisurely in a leash. Hiking, swimming or even teaching him some agility skills can likewise be very good forms of exercise.
You can even do some obedience training and see how far that takes him. Start small, with easy commands like “Sit” or “Stay”, but if you’re blessed with an intelligent half (or quarter!) blood, you can get as far as teaching him how to bring your slippers and beer when you get home from work.
What should I feed them?
The general rules for dog food and prohibited human foods still apply, as well as the advice to feed the dogs twice per day at regular hours instead of leaving them plenty of food out at their disposal.
Besides this, there are other factors which you have to consider when feeding them, like:
- Activity level.
Most dog food packages have certain indications on food portions, depending on what weight range your dog is in, such as:
- Less than 10 pounds: ¼ to ½ cup.
- 10 to 20 pounds: ½ cup to 1 cup.
- 20 to 30 pounds: ¾ cups to 1.5 cups.
- 30 to 40 pounds: 1.5 to 2 cups.
- 40 to 60 pounds: 1.5 to 2.5 cups.
- 60 to 80 pounds: 2.5 to 3 cups.
- 80 to 100 pounds: 3 to 4 cups.
- 100 to 150 pounds: 4 to 5 cups.
However, the best thing to do is to consult a vet, because he can get you a personalized diet for your little pooch. He’ll also tell you if your dog is overweight or underweight, as well as calculate his metabolism according to all the factors that influence it, because if you have a 40 pound couch potato, chances are he’ll eat the same as a 20 pound ball of energy.
What are the cutest half breeds?
Without much further ado, here’s what we think the cutest mixed dog breeds out there are:
#1. The Pitsky
His parents are a Pitbull and a Husky, and this adorable little pup is a result of their cross-breeding. Generally, they have a large head and pointy ears, and they’re pretty stout and strong. They range from 35 to 60 pounds, and don’t grow taller than 25 inches. When it comes to the color and coat that relies strongly on chance.
They’re also pretty muscular, strong and stocky, and they’re a particularly good choice for people who live in warmer environments that aren’t actually suited for Huskies.
However, you’ll have a loyal, friendly pup with protective tendencies but also mild-mannered. He’ll like to play and get a lot of attention and companionship from you, so he doesn’t deal very well with being left alone for long.
He’ll need to start training very young, at less than two months of age because he can’t thrive without having a job to do, and because otherwise his destructive tendencies will become more obvious.
#2. The Chusky
A mix between the Chow-Chow and the Siberian Husky, The Chowsky is a dog of about 20 inches tall and weighing 40 to 65 pounds. He needs moderate maintenance and regular grooming because of his thick fur, and he’ll also shed quite constantly. The most common colors for Chuskies are black, black and brown, brown and white, cream, red and white.
He’ll need a lot of patience, because he’s not so easy to be trained. As such, the Chusky needs a dominant owner who can teach him the meaning of following the pack leader.
However, he’s great when it comes to protecting his family and he’s also pretty active. The most important thing is that he’s amazing with children, being very loving and playful.
He needs a moderate amount of daily exercise and needs to be outside at least an hour every day, playing and walking. He also needs to be with an active owner, who loves playing with him and showing him new tricks.
#3. The Corgen
What happens when a Corgi and a Golden Retriever get together? Possibly a wonderfully-looking dog of 35 – 45 pounds, and 15 – 18 inches. Loyal, active and gentle, the Corgen can be a great addition to your family.
He’s really intelligent, but he’s also blessed with an incredible hunting instinct from the Retriever and a huge interest in participating in different games. The protective side of the Corgi will also manifest itself in this very cute and protective dog, from which he also has a strong herding tendency.
Being blessed with hunting and herding abilities, it’s no wonder that the little Corgen has to be exercised properly every day. As such, you might consider that sheltering him in an apartment isn’t the best option for neither of you. Moreover, he can even develop serious health issues if he’s forced to live an inactive lifestyle.
#4. The Chug
A playful, affectionate, fun-loving, loyal dog of 6-14 inches and 10-20 pounds, the Chug will make you fall in love at first glance. A mixture of Pug and Chihuahua, he’s very energetic and loves to play and make new friends. On the other hand, he may also enjoy barking and may not be perfect for children, which is why you should consider socializing him early.
He needs to eat only a high-quality diet based on dog food, which is formulated especially for smaller dogs. His dietary requirements aren’t so out of the ordinary and don’t shed any shadow on his abilities. As such, the Chug is an intelligent dog that can be trained very well by someone with a firm hand or he’ll get pretty stubborn fast.
When it comes to his health, the Chug is prone to respiratory problems, eye problems, patellar luxation, and hypoglycemia.
#5. The Yorkiepoo
If you’re looking for a great companion, friendly and fun to be around, why not consider the Yorkipoo, the love child between a Yorkshire Terrier and a Toy or Miniature Poodle?
With a height of 7-10 inches and a weight of 5-12 pounds, the Yorkiepoo is very adaptable and he can even leave comfortably inside an apartment. Best suited for families with children, singles and seniors, this dog is quite energetic, lively, playful and good-natured. He’s also great with first-time dog owners, easy to groom and easy to train!
As a downside, he does have a rather accentuated tendency to bark or howl, but when you think of how playful and energetic he is, that will seem like a trifle in comparison. He’s likewise prone to allergies, bone problems and immunity illnesses, but that’s nothing you can’t overcome. When it comes to his diet, he needs to eat high-quality, dry food or otherwise he may also develop gum disease.
All that being said, the mixed dog breeds you’ll find out there can exceed anyone’s expectations in terms of personality, shape, and color. In the end, they’re always a very good choice of a four-legged companion to cheer and brighten your life!