Traits and Characteristics
Sometimes called a hybrid, mutt or crossbreed, the mixed-breed dog is a beloved member of the canine family. Mixed-breed dogs run the gamut in size, shape, color, coat and pattern. Unlike purebred puppies that are the offspring of one breed of dog, mixed breeds are the kaleidoscopes of the canine world.
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Friendliness to Dogs
Friendliness to Other Pets
Friendliness to Strangers
Ease of Training
Disclaimer: While the characteristics mentioned here may frequently represent this breed, dogs are individuals whose personalities and appearances will vary. Please consult the adoption organization for details on a specific pet.
Variation in genes means, like their purebred counterparts, each mixed-breed dog’s personality is unique. They may gravitate more strongly to certain qualities if one of their breeds is more dominant. For example, two Puggles (a mix of Pug and Beagle breeds) similar in appearance may behave differently. One can be laid back like a Pug while the other is driven by a sense of smell like a Beagle.
Depending on their parental lineage, one particular breed may dominate the dog’s personality and temperament. Like human beings, dogs can take on the personality of one parent more than the other. Each mixed breed is one-of-a-kind, including puppies from the same litter.
Demonstrating both athletic prowess and skill, they compete in agility, disc dog events, dock diving, flyball and are trained as service or guide dogs. Challenging both mind and body, mixed breeds need an outlet to keep them happy and healthy.
The way they behave towards people, other animals and situations is a combination of environmental factors as well as inherited traits. Whether a mixed breed dog will behave more like their mother or father is a combination of pot luck and gene pool. Additionally, a dog’s personality often flourishes and changes once removed from a shelter environment.
Like all dogs, mixed breeds should receive adequate exercise, veterinary care, a healthy diet, access to clean water, and regular bathing with nail clipping, brushing and coat maintenance.
Depending on the breeds in their gene pool, some mixed dogs may be couch potatoes while others are more athletic. They all should have some form of mental and physical activity that can be coordinated with a veterinarian’s guidance. A DNA breed test may help pet parents determine which diseases can affect their dog. Genetic screening can help determine a dog’s ancestry and provide further insight into breed-specific health, behavior and more.
Mixed breed dog coats range from thick and dense to short and sparse, and from shedders to non-shedders. Because their breed makeup is a mixed bag, appearance and temperament are diverse. Their uniqueness may help them adjust to a variety of home environments including city living, country life and everything in between. Whereas mixed breeds were historically viewed as less-desirable to some human societies, the creation of "designer dogs" has brought increased popularity to crosses not recognized as classic dog breeds.
As the mixed-breed dog is incredibly diverse, we’ve indicated a 3 on all highlights below. Keep in mind a mixed breed may be a 1 or a 5 in any of these - it just all depends on the dog!
- Major Concerns: N/A
- Minor Concerns: N/A
- Occasionally Seen: N/A
- Suggested Tests: DNA salivary testing to determine breed lineage to help in guiding veterinary care and testing.
- Lifespan: Varies
- Notes: Some rescues and shelters may have knowledge of the dog’s health history or any pre-existing conditions.
Mixed breeds are steeped in history. With more than one breed in its bloodline, their ancestors are often a variety of two or more dogs. While a mixed breed dog’s lineage might be unknown, a designer dog’s line can generally be traced back, such as a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle combined to produce a Labradoodle.
Public perception of mixed breeds has evolved over the years. Some people believe they are less prone to certain illnesses. Due to their mixed breed lineage, the perception exists that less purebred genetic material may mean less genetic problems such as heart disease, hip dysplasia, and kidney disease.
The largest-ever DNA study of 330 breeds including 83,000 mixed-breed dogs and 18,000 purebred dogs revealed fewer mixed breeds are affected by disease-causing mutations versus purebred dogs. The study did show that although mixed breeds are less likely to develop certain disorders they “may still be carriers.”
Pride and enthusiasm for mixed breeds are evident with online and in-person celebrations of #NationalMuttDay, which calls attention to mutts while helping to save lives.