December 2nd is National Mutt Day, a day to celebrate all the wonderful mixed-breed dogs out there. Established in 2005 and celebrated twice a year, it was created to raise awareness for all the dogs in shelters that need loving homes. It also serves to educate the public on just how wonderful mixed breed dogs can be.
Most of the dogs (around 75%) that end up in shelters, humane societies and rescue facilities are mixed breed dogs. They are also the largest percent euthanized. Mixed breed dogs, or ‘mutts’, can make for a pet every bit as wonderful as a purebred dog. As we can see by the booming trend of designer dog breeds (the breeds that are mixed purposefully to create puppies with the desired traits of two breeds), sometimes you can have the best of both worlds with mixed-breed dogs.
There are many other reasons to choose a mixed breed dog.
- Mixed breeds tend to be healthier than purebred dogs. Many purebred breeds are prone to breed-specific genetic conditions. Mixed-breed dogs come from a more diverse gene pool, so they tend to be healthier and heartier, with genes from one breed able to overcome disease-prone ones from another breed.
- Mixed breed dogs are often easy-going and well-behaved once properly trained and socialized. Many shelter animals can have behavioral issues, either ones that caused their owners to give them up in the first place, or ones that develop during their time in shelters. You should be prepared to put in the time and effort to train and socialize a rescue dog. That being said, purebreds can often have breed-specific behavioral extremes and temperaments; however, just like the wider gene pool can make mixed-breeds healthier, it can also give them a more even-keeled temperament, especially with a committed owner.
- Mixed breeds also tend to live longer lives. This follows from the healthier nature of mixed-breed dogs. Most purebred breeds have an established life expectancy, usually influenced by those conditions the breed is predisposed to. With mixed-breed dogs, healthier genes can lead to a much longer life expectancy.
It is usually cheaper to adopt from a shelter than to buy from a breeder. Purebred dogs can sell for staggeringly high costs, depending on the breed and breeder. While all dogs cost money on an ongoing basis, for food, toys, vet care, etc., the upfront costs of adopting from a shelter are usually much less. Often shelters will spay or neuter the dog and make sure its shots are up to date before they go home with you.
If you are not ready or able to adopt a mixed breed from a shelter, you can still contribute or get involved locally! Donate money to your local animal shelter, or give food, toys, and other supplies that are always needed. You can also volunteer your time to walk dogs and help out in the shelter. No matter how small your contribution, the mixed breed dogs of the world will thank you!