I’ve never owned a purebred dog (or cat for that matter). They’ve all been ‘mutts,’ or mixed breed animals, rescued from shelters or given to me by friends or family who could no longer handle the responsibility of pet ownership. I am okay with this. Like many people, I even assumed raising mixed breed pets is better—having heard numerous stories about the ‘genetic’ health issues of purebreds. However, a recent study reveals those tales may not necessarily be true.
Published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the report examined the medical records of more than 90,000 dogs—purebred and mixed-breed alike. The researchers identified at least one genetic disorder in 27,254 of the animals. Conditions they determined were caused by disorders included cancers, heart problems and orthopedic issues.
While it’s commonly assumed that conditions such as these are more common in purebred dogs, analysis revealed the contrary. Thirteen disorders were equally common in purebred and mixed breed dogs, including all cancers and hip dysplasia. While 10 disorders—including epilepsy and cataracts—occurred more often in purebred dogs, one other was found more frequently in mutts.
The researchers postulated that the genetic disorders common in both groups may be due to mutations that happened long ago, before the various breeds developed. As such, they would occur with equal frequency in all types of dogs. The disorders that were more common in purebred animals likely developed from more recent mutations, after or in conjunction with the advent of the breed.
Do you own a purebred dog? Were you concerned about possible health issues? Let us know in the comments.