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Mix It Up!

Author: Sarah Tulicki | Date: January 8, 2014

Is a mixed breed dog right for you?

Over the last few years, every holiday season I find myself in a pet store looking at ornaments showcasing purebred dogs. Every year I look through the variety of dogs knowing the end result… none of these dogs look like mine. This isn’t the only time this happens, mind you – bumper stickers, calendars, coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets – all with adorable pictures that look nothing like my dog. The truth is that, like every person, every dog is unique, and with this blog I would like to celebrate the most unique looking of dogs – the mutts. In the past five years of dog training I have met some great dogs, purebreds and mixes alike, but for personal reasons (namely, my own dogs), mixes are a favorite. If you are in the market for a new dog and you can’t decide on any one breed, you may be intrigued by a mixed breed dog. As with any purebred, there are pros and cons to owning a mixed breed.

Personality Quirks

Any trainer will tell you to do your research prior to purchasing or adopting a dog. It’s always good to know what you’re getting yourself into before you make a commitment. Often when it comes to purebred dogs we can say well of course your dog barks, he’s a hound, or of course she nips, she’s a herder, or of course he digs, he’s a terrier… you get the idea. But even mixed breed dog owners can learn to understand their dog’s personality quirks and instincts.

    Ask lots of questions.

  • This is important even when purchasing a purebred dog from a breeder; ask about their lineage or any potential health issues.
  • A shelter may even be able to tell you what kind of mix he or she is;keep in mind they are not always correct, but it is a good place to start.
    Spend some time with the dog

  • Prior to adopting, spend some time with the dog; play with them and pet them. Some places require you interact with the dog for an hour before adopting; others give you a grace period to take the dog home and see if he or she is a good fit for your lifestyle.
  • I know of people who have fostered dogs and then ended up adopting them afterwards; if you have the means, this can be a great way to see if a dog fits with you. If they don’t, then you still get to see them go to a good home in the end.
  • I’ve known people to get a dog even when they knew it wasn’t quite right just because they really wanted a dog. Take your time; this is not only your life, but also the dog’s life, so be sure it’s a good fit. Not every dog is right for every person. Personalities can clash even across species.
    Every dog is unique

  • Remember every dog is an individual. If you’re up for the mystery of a mixed breed and ready to have some fun getting to know them, then a mixed breed dog may be right up your alley!

Healthy as a horse

Kennedy mixed breed dogA huge pro for mixed breed dogs is their health. Purebred dogs come from a narrow gene pool, which results in less genetic diversity. Genetic diversity is something that biologists praise in wild species because it means healthier individuals and less chance of genetic disorders becoming a norm in the population. Same goes for pure breeds, hence the propensity of Germans Shepherds to hip dysplasia or Dalmatians to epilepsy.

Cost effective

Another pro for mutts is the cost. Mutts are abundant in shelters and normally cost $100-300 in adoption fees. Contrary to common belief, puppies are easily found in shelters, as well as pure breeds; they just don’t come with certificates of pedigree. I always recommend Petfinder to those looking for a new pet. You can search for a specific breed and the results will give you pure and mixes of that breed. You can also specify gender and age and look at pictures. You can even find cats, reptiles, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, and horses on Petfinder.

Current dog owners

For those of you who related to my plight in the beginning of this blog, I suggest making your own items with a picture of your dog on it. I have a coffee mug with a picture of my childhood dog. This is much more personalized and there are many sites that will do this for you (Walgreens and Shutterfly, for example). The other day I also came across a website called Shelter Pups that will make a stuffed animal version of your dog if you send them a photo.

Whether you own a purebred dog or a mix – stop worrying about their lineage! When I was in Africa I told our tour guide that I was a dog trainer, and he immediately opened up and told me all about his dog. When I asked him what breed she was he just laughed. He didn’t know, and he was never concerned about it; she just showed up at his home one day and now they are inseparable. This got me thinking that every dog is an individual and not to be defined by their breed. I don’t know about you, but I constantly get asked what breed my dog is because she looks like a jigsaw puzzle of color and patterns. If you too have found yourself dreading the question, “What kind of dog is that?” just smile and simply answer, “a great one!”

Please share with us stories of what makes your dog unique!


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