July 31st is National Mutt Day! This day to celebrate all the wonderful mixed-breed dogs out there was created in 2005, and is celebrated twice during the year. It was created to raise awareness for all the dogs in shelters that need loving homes, and to educate the public on just how wonderful mixed breed dogs can be- that it the personality of the dog that matters the most, not its papers.
The vast majority of dogs that end up in shelters, humane societies and rescue facilities are mixed breed dogs, around 75% of shelter populations. 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. Just because a mutt wasn’t mixed ‘on purpose’ doesn’t mean that it won’t have wonderful traits and a lovable personality from its varied background.
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 certain 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.
Often, mixed breed dogs are 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 well-aware of and 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, but just like coming from a 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.
Whatever kind of dog you’re looking for, whether is a small snuggle-bug to cozy up on the couch with, or an energetic athlete to tackle weekly hikes with you, there is a mixed breed dog out that that will fit the bill. Mixed breeds com in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so there is sure to be one that fits your lifestyle and steals your heart. Or maybe the one that steals your heart won’t be the one you thought you were looking for! Each mixed breed dog is unique in their own way, and opening your home and heart to one is sure to reap all the rewards that come with canine companionship.
It is usually cheaper to adopt from a shelter than to buy from a breeder. Purebred dogs can sell for staggeringly high prices, 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, as well as make sure its shots are up to date before they go home with you, starting you both off on a solid footing.
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!