Mixed Breed katy towle 26 July 2021
When we talk about mixed breeds, we are generally referring to two types of mixed breed.
- There is the ‘Heinz 57’ dog with no known pedigree that is a genetic mishmash of unknown breeds. These dogs can look like anything. Recently, some curious owners have been using genetic screening tests to check their pet’s ancestry; mainly to satisfy their own curiosity.
- We then have the ‘designer dog’. Designer dogs have been around since the 1970’s, with the first being the Labradoodle, a mix of the Labrador Retriever and Poodle. Nowadays, almost every pedigree has been mixed to create a new hybrid, with some of the more popular one including the Cavapoo (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Poodle), Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever and Poodle) and the Malshi (Maltese and Shih Tzu).
The beauty of the mixed breed is that there is a huge variation in their appearance. As their parents are usually not the same breed, they can inherit different genes from either side. This means that even pups in the same litter can look completely unalike.
What your mixed breed will look like will depend on which breeds they have been bred from. As you can appreciate, there will be a big difference between a tiny Chorkie (Chihuahua x Yorkie) and a Bullboxer Pit (Boxer x Pitbull).
What temperament your mixed breed develops will depend on their genes as well as the environment they are raised in and the training and socialisation they receive. Some dislike the fact that the temperament of mixed breeds can be less predictable than pedigrees, though we are never guaranteed that any dog will act a certain way.
In recent years, with the establishment of some well-known hybrid dogs such as the Goldendoodle, we have gotten to know some new personalities. For these more established cross-breeds, a personality profile will exist.
Due to the fact that mixed breed dogs are less inbred, they will logically enjoy better health. Nature is very clever and ensures a dog will inherit genes from both their mother and their father. This means that if one side has an inherited medical issue, there is a chance the pup will not inherit it. We can then actively breed these ‘healthier’ pups, ensuring their progeny do not pass on the genetic condition.
The issue with many pedigrees is that both breeding parents will have the defective gene, meaning that many puppies in their litter will develop the associated medical condition.
For example, if we breed two German Shepherds with hip dysplasia, their puppies are all likely to be affected. While things like exercise and nutrition play a role, we are setting them up for failure. Conversely, if we breed a German Shepherd with a breed not prone to hip dysplasia, their pups have a good chance of developing healthy hips.
(Of course, when it comes to medical conditions such as hip dysplasia we should be screening parents anyway, to ensure only those who are unaffected are used in the breeding pool. Sadly, in reality, this is not always done).
On the whole, mixed breed dogs develop less disease such as heart disease, cancers and joint disease than their purebred counterparts. This means that they will pay less visits to the vet and should typically cost their owners less in vet bills throughout their lifetime.
How well a dog is trained is often a reflection of their owner and the effort they have put in. The vast majority of cross-breeds will have the ability to pick up on basic training and settle well into family life. It is important that their owners work hard from day one, providing adequate training and socialisation.
For most dogs, positive reward-based training is the way forward. While in the past we may have advocated ‘punishing’ a dog for bad behaviour, it is now believed that this can worsen the issue. Rather, we need to be on the ball and constantly encouraging good behaviour by offering treats and vocal praise when our dog does what we want them to.
It is important to understand that training is not something that only happens in the first year or two of a dog’s life. Training is a lifelong under-taking that will need to be adjusted as the dog gets older. Most dogs thrive when well trained and are more content and at peace when they know what is wanted of them.
Owners should try to ensure that everyone in the household has the same rules for the dog, in order to avoid confusion. One person letting their dog jump on the sofa while another tells them off for doing so, is a recipe for disaster.
Specific grooming requirements will depend on the cross-breed’s conformation and coat type. However, all dogs benefit from regular grooming such as ear cleaning, claw trimming and tooth brushing.
When we can, we should introduce these grooming routines from a young age to ensure acceptance. A 3 month old puppy is much more likely to tolerate toothbrushing than a 4 year old who has never seen a toothbrush. Initially, start off very slowly and offer lots of praise and rewards. Pooch & Mutt’s Mini Bone treats are a great option for a quick incentive.
Most dogs need more exercise than their owner realises. Needs vary depending on age, size and genetics. Those who are under-exercised may develop nuisance behaviours such as incessant barking or garden digging. It is hard to over-exercise a dog. However, we should not overdo it when it comes to young puppies. This is especially true for larger breeds who can develop orthopaedic issues if exercised too hard.
Dogs need a balanced diet containing high quality proteins, fats, carbohydrates and micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Better quality diets will also contain supplements such as probiotics and glucosamine to further support your dog and their health. Check out the Pooch & Mutt dry food range; ideal for any dog.
You'll find a handy feeding calculator on every product page here at Pooch & Mutt to help you identify how much of our health led recipes are right for the age, size and weight of your dog.