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Crossbreed or Purebreed?

Posted by: Tim Berrisford  Date: 25/06/2014   Category: Expert Advice

Where most debates begin with each party explaining their side of the argument, followed by the declaration of a ‘winner’ or at least an amicable conclusion from both sides, there is no simple rational answer to the longstanding contention between crossbreeds versus pure, pedigree breeds. It all depends on what you favour in a puppy and how you raise it.

In favour of…Crossbreeds

Crossbreeds – dogs whose two parents are purebreeds but of two different breeds – are becoming increasingly desirable in the dog community and, due to their mixed nature, they can create some great portmanteau names; Labradoodle (Labrador and a Poodle), Cockapoo (Cocker-Spaniel and a Poodle), Puggle (Pug and a Beagle) to name some of the classics.

However, crossbreeds are not just mixed by name only; a combination of two (or more) breeds can often deliver a mix of characteristics and personality from each breed. With the Labradoodle, owners can expect the energy of the Labrador Retriever combined with the work ethic of the Poodle.

For an adventure into the unknown, a crossbreed can certainly be one of the best options. On the other hand, such unpredictability means you could end up with a dog entirely unsuitable for your location. The small puppy you bought at a young age could turn into a much larger animal a few years down the line, when it is entirely too late to do anything about it.

In the past, crossbreeds had little to no financial value as most people who had a mixed-breed litter did so through sheer accident. Conversely, pedigree dogs were seen as the dogs with a much higher ‘status’ amongst owners and, as such, had a much larger value. Now, while pedigree dogs are still the most popular types of dog in the UK today, crossbreeds now have a desirability (and price tag) to match purebreeds.

Not only that, crossbreeds tend to have fewer health problems than their purebred brethren due to the dilution of detrimental recessive genes during the mating process. As a result, medical conditions that are common in purebreeds are less likely to occur in crossbreeds.

Speaking to bbc.co.uk, Dogs Today representative Beverly Cuddy suggests the tables have now turned: “There is an element of keeping up with the Joneses. There is now a reverse snobbery.”

In favour of…Purebreeds

Despite their rising popularity, the UK still isn’t completely sold on crossbreeds. Purebreeds – dogs whose parents are all of the same breed for at least three generations – are still the most popular by quite some distance and there are most appropriate for owners who don’t want surprises as part of their pup.

The general purpose of breeding purebreds is to create dogs that have predictable looks, manners and temperament. They are safe options for owners who want to know how their dog’s appearance and personality will develop in the future.

Bill Lambert, health and breeder services manager at the Kennel Club, explains to the BBC: “The benefit of a pedigree dog is that you know what you’ll get. If you mix them, those guarantees are stripped away.”

In addition, mixing characteristics doesn’t always lead to a positive outcome. For instance what happens when the Husky, known for its independent and inquisitive mind, is crossed with the obedience of the German shepherd? There would be a clear conflict of interest in the mind of the dog, leading the Husky side to potentially disobey instructions.

Crossbreeds aren’t always blessed with fewer health problems either. Mixing breeds is not a guarantee of superior health and there are occasionally cases where crossbreeds are born with the negative genetic traits of the breeds they have descended from.

And the winner is…

Cuddy believes the debate between crossbreeds and purebreeds is a diversion compared to the issues surrounding irresponsible dog breeding and lack of health testing.

Registered breeders tend to keep excellent care of purebreed dogs and their puppies as these breeders reputations are at stake. They can’t afford not to care for their dogs well and, as such, buyers are more likely to get a puppy that has been treated extremely well. However, the same can now be said with crossbreed pups. With crossbreeds now going for similar sums of cash as pedigrees, it is in breeders’ best interests to keep their crossbreeds in impeccable health.

Ultimately, there is no ‘winner’ in this so-called battle. The only thing that matters is owners giving their dog – whether it is a crossbreed or purebreed – the love and attention it deserves.