- Mixed breeds can be divided into cross-breeds, which are the product of two pure breeds; mutts, which are the product of many breeds over generations; or indigenous dogs, which are not properly mixed breeds, but are dogs that have no purebred ancestors.
- Indigenous dogs include native strains that have never been subject to human selection.
- Almost all current pure breeds are derived from indigenous dogs initially, and then from subsequent mixes.
- Throughout the history of the world, various types of mixed breeds have fulfilled the roles of hunter, guardian, herder, draft animal and companion. Only in the mid 1800s did the fashion for pure breeds begin, and even then, mixes remained the dog of choice for most people.
- Early American settlers brought their mixed breed dogs with them when they moved westward, and early Native Americans had indigenous dogs.
- In the mid 1900s, more families were able to afford purebred dogs, which were a status symbol of sorts. By the late 1900s, owning a mixed breed, especially of shelter origin, became more in vogue.
- Several mixed breeds have been celebrities, including Benji, the movie star.
- More recently, hybrid dogs, also called designer dogs, have become popular. These dogs are purposely bred crosses between two pure breeds.
- Mixed breeds continue to be the most popular dog in the world.
- Some companies now claim they can determine what breeds are behind a cross-bred or mutt by means of DNA testing using a cheek swab or blood sample.
Mixed Breed Behavior Concerns
- Indigenous dogs tend to be independent and clever. They are often a challenge to live with.
- The behavior of cross-breds and mutts depends on what breeds are behind them.
- Those with hound or terrier breeds tend to be more independent.
- Those with retriever or herding breeds tend to be more obedient.
- Those with terrier breeds tend to be feistier around other dogs.
- Like most breeds, they do best with reward-based training involving food.
Mixed Breed Suggested Exercises
- Indigenous dogs tend to need a lot of exercise.
- The exercise needs of cross-breds and mutts depends on what breeds are behind them and how large and athletic they are.
- Those with sporting or terrier breeds tend to be most active.
- Those with sighthound, flock guarding or giant breeds tend to be less active.
- Although the physical exercise needs of many small dogs can be met with backyard games, they also need to walk and explore outside the home.
- Small, lean, short-haired dogs tend to become chilled easily.
- Large, round, thick-coated, short-muzzled dogs tend to become overheated easily.
Mixed Breed Grooming
- All dogs should be brushed at least once a week, with long hair requiring more frequent brushing.
- Dogs with hair that grows continuously tend not to have defined shedding periods. As a result, they shed less than other breeds, but also usually require more grooming or even clipping.
- Dogs with long hair around the eyes should be checked regularly for eye irritations.
- Dogs with long hair around the anus must be checked regularly for hygiene issues.
Suggested Mixed Breed Nutritional Needs
- Most dogs love to eat, and obesity is one of the most common problems seen among both mixed and pure breeds.
- Adult dogs should be fed a balanced diet, with restricted calories if the dog starts to gain too much weight.
- Tiny puppies that will likely be toy-sized as adults should be fed often to prevent hypoglycemia, a serious condition to which very small puppies are prone. Meals of high protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates may also help guard against this condition.
- Puppies that will likely be large or giant-sized as adults should be fed a large-breed growth food, which slows their growing rate but not final size. This may decrease the incidence or severity of hip dysplasia in adults.