I have always felt proud to have better knowledge about pets, especially my Angel, but my pride was hammered to pieces when I stumbled upon the images of what I thought was a ‘Dachshund’, but digging a little deeper, proved me wrong. In fact, I was looking at a ‘crossbreed’ between a Dachshund and a Rottweiler. All these years I assumed Angel to be a pure-line dachshund since I brought her home from the kennel trusting the owners’ words. The excitement of welcoming a pet into my life blinded me off from doing any background check. For a true pet-lover, it might not even matter if their dogs/cats were purebred or mix-breed, but for the exorbitant amount we shell out while buying our pets the research is worth every penny.
Purebred dog (or a Pedigree) refers to a dog (from a modern dog breed) with a registered/documented ‘pedigree’. For Example Golden retriever, German shepherd, Rottweiler etc. are considered purebred. ‘Primitive Man’, in his quest to find help in his daily chores, understood that dogs are easily domestic-able. Some types of work needed certain inherent traits that helped dogs accomplish the work due to high energy, aggression, chasing, digging, barking and independent thinking. This helped the ‘Primitive Man’ decide which traits he wanted in a dog breed. Then he started breeding them selectively. Selective Breeding simply means that dogs with the ‘desired’ traits like herding, hunting and guarding were bred extensively. This kind of selective breeding is done even in the case of cows, buffalos, goat, sheep, pig, poultry, horses, donkeys, elephants, camels etc.
And what is a crossbreed dog? It is an intentionally bred dog of two or more documented breeds and a resultant of mankind’s ever persistent desire to own something a little different, a little fancy or in short supply.
A huge group of purebred dog breeders and dog clubs are adamantly against the creation of ‘designer dogs’ due to their assumption that, in the long run, such dogs are a danger to the whole ‘dog breeding world’. And almost all pro-cross-breeders believe that their practice of cross-breeding adds to the vigor (that got reduced due to in-breeding for several generations) to the existing genetic make-up of purebred dogs. As in case of Angel’s litter (a male puppy), he is a pure cross-bred pup. His mother, Angel, is a Dachshund (again a cross-breed of Dachshund and Rottweiler) while his father, Joy, is a pure-line Shih-tzu.
Choosing which stance is ’correct’ is not my priority here. My priority is to give potential pet-parents a fair picture of both the stances.
Negative aspects first:
Size: Pet-size is a very important factor for all the pet-parents concerned. Cross-bred dogs have, at times, unpredictable sizes. If both the parents are of comparable sizes, you may expect the puppy to be of a similar size. But you can never be sure of the ultimate size.
Litter-count: The litter count is very low in case of crossbreeding. It is approximately one-thirds as compared to pure-breeding. And the survival of the litter is even lesser, being one-fourths. In simple words, pure-breeding might fetch you 9 puppies while cross breeding would only produce 3 puppies. And for every 4 puppies born (in case of cross-breeding), only 1 puppy survives.
Congenital health issues: Since the mating process naturally leaves out the defective genes, a mixed-breed puppy is usually on the advantageous side of standing a much lower chance of being born with congenital diseases. However, many congenital issues, such as eye diseases, kidney problems, hip dysplasia, and epilepsy are found across crossbred dogs. This happens when both the parents are carriers (or victims) of one or more of the same genetic disorders.
Temperament: As discussed before, purebred dogs have been reared for different purposes, and their temperaments correspond to the purposes accurately. For example, Rottweilers are rather bold and \ aggressive because they have been bred to be watch-dogs and guard-dogs. Poodles, on the other hand, were bred to hunt and be wonderful companions. It is almost impossible to predict the temperament of a crossbred puppy, which these two dogs might produce.
Risky deliveries: A very high level of risk is involved in cross-bred pregnancies. Breeding dogs of different sizes (essentially breeds) can sometimes lead to complicated pregnancies and deliveries.
Undeniably unique looks: Most of us would prefer a dog that doesn’t resemble any other breed, and cross breeding can effectively produce such a ‘designer dog’. On combining two different breeds, it’s a coin toss as to how the genetics will combine. This means that each puppy in a litter, may look different from its littermates, and this, in-turn, can give us a very interesting-looking litter.
Future pure-breed: Many of today’s purebred dogs are successive crosses of different breeds, and have been refined through selective breeding, thus displaying their consistent characteristics today. Similarly, we can expect some of today’s crosses to potentially evolve into future pure breeds. The Cockapoo is one such potential future pure breed. Cockapoo is a designer breed resultant of an American/ English Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle.
Money matters: While the average purebred puppy often fetches breeders a mediocre $300 to $500 some cross breeds go for more than $1,000.
While there are advocates for and against pure breeds and cross breeds, we pet owners are spoilt with the abundant choice available! Probably, a day may not be far away, where in you go to the nearest kennel house/pet shop, and fill up an order form as to what combination of breed, colour, trait, temperament, height and size of pet you wish to have.