Are Mixed Breed Dogs Healthier?

terrier mix puppies sharing a food bowl

There is a common idea floating around that a mixed breed dog is healthier than a purebred dog. The basis behind the idea is that the genetic diversity of a mixed breed helps reduce the chance that they will inherit the health issues that are common to purebred dogs, especially those from bloodlines with genetic disorders. But, is it true? Are mixed-breed dogs healthier?

Are Mixed-Breed Dogs Healthier?

Not necessarily. A mixed-breed dog does inherit genes from both of their parent breeds and is, therefore, more diverse. However, there is no guarantee that an individual mixed breed puppy will inherit the right combination of genes that makes them healthier.

A mixed-breed dog can take on any combination of traits from their parent breeds. So, a puppy could inherit more dominant characteristics from one parent breed over the other, they could get a nice balance from both, or any combination of traits from them.

A puppy could “win the genetic lottery”, inherit the best of the best from their parent breeds, and avoid some of the breed-specific health issues associated with those breeds. But, it’s called a “lottery” for a reason – there is no guarantee. A puppy could also inherit the worst genes from their parents and be prone to the breed-specific health issues common to both of their parent breeds.

3 Tips for Finding a Healthy Puppy

Whether you are set on a mixed breed or are looking for a certain set of traits common to a purebred, it’s important to do your research and find the puppy that’s the right fit for you, your family, and lifestyle. When it comes to health, here are some tips for finding a healthy puppy:

1. Do Your Research

When it comes to finding the right puppy for you and finding a healthy puppy, it’s important to do your research. Every dog breed will have some breed-specific health issues to be aware of and some are prone to more serious issues than others. You’ll want to have some background information on those for the dog breeds and parent breeds of the mixed breeds you’re interested in.

2. Adopt or Buy from Reputable Sources

Whether you choose to adopt or buy, make sure you do so from reputable sources. Organizations and dog breeders that are responsible will be putting the health of their dogs and puppies at the forefront. Reviewing tips on how to buy a puppy online safely can give you some good ideas about how to find and approach reputable breeders and to avoid online puppy scams.

Reputable breeders that use responsible breeding practices will screen their dogs for breed-specific health conditions. The goal is to avoid passing on genetic conditions to puppies and reduce the chance of a puppy inheriting a breed-specific condition. Plus, you should be able to visit the puppy in person and see how they’re being raised and the environment they’re being raised in.

There are some health issues that cannot be avoided with dogs, especially as they age. Arthritis, joint issues, eye issues, dental issues, and more are all common to senior dogs and even the healthiest of puppies can develop them later in life. However, responsible breeding practices can cut down on passing on things that are preventable and genetically-based.

3. Talk to the Breeder About the Parent Breeds

If you are purchasing a designer dog breed or a mixed breed from a breeder, make sure you take some time to talk to them about the parent breeds. You want to know what the parent breeds are and common health issues associated with them.

You also want to ask about the individual history of the parents of the puppy you’re interested in. The breeder should be able to talk about the genetic history of both of the parents. They may even have health clearances or test results you can reference.

These are common when it comes to hip, elbow, and ophthalmological evaluations. There may also be a test specific to one of the parent breeds that tests for a particular gene or condition. So, take a look at those things and don’t be afraid to address them with the breeder.

When it comes to finding a healthy dog, there is no guarantee that a mixed breed will be healthier. There is a chance they could be, but there is no guarantee. Knowing this, doing your research, and going into the situation with your eyes open can help you find a healthy puppy, whether the right one for you is a mixed breed or a purebred.