My Meridian Star Pet Column: Go Nuts For Mutts!

March 1, 2011

Go Nuts for Mutts!
By: Ashley Owen Hill, guest columnist

Have you ever seen a very unique looking ‘mutt,’ and thought to yourself, ‘What the heck kind of dog is that?!’ Is he a Lab? A Chihuahua? Maybe a Boxer? Or a Pomeranian?  It’s true that most mutts come from an unknown lineage, and they usually don’t have DNA test results strapped to their behinds for our clarification.

But what does this mixed origin really mean?

I often hear the misconception that purebred dogs are somehow ‘better than’ or ‘healthier than’ mixed breeds. This belief is completely inaccurate. In fact, mixed breed dogs often benefit from ‘hybrid vigor,’ the increased function in biologic quality derived from the mating of dissimilar breeds. Thus, mixed breeds generally live longer and healthier lives based on their genetic diversity.  In addition, mutts do not develop many of the diseases and disorders seen in their purebred counterparts.

Why do purebred dogs tend to have so many medical conditions? When dogs are intentionally bred to produce a certain appearance over several generations, many genetic ailments are passed down to their offspring. This is especially true when the breeder dogs are closely related, also known as inbreeding. Inbreeding causes genetic deficiencies that can lead to many health problems, high vet bills, and a short lifespan for your pet. So it turns out that inbreeding is not only a problem for people, but for our pets as well…

Some people worry that their purebred dog will be infected with a deadly disease from any contact with a mixed breed dog. Again—false. Let me put it to you straight:  A fully-vaccinated, healthy, mixed breed dog is no different than a fully-vaccinated, healthy, purebred dog. This is not my opinion; this is based in fact. Just because a dog is a ‘mutt,’ does not mean that he or she is a filthy, contagious animal.

When looking for a pet, many people select a breed based solely on appearance. It’s true that purebred dogs may have the physical characteristics of the ‘breed standard.’ However, many breeds possess certain personality traits that may be a poor fit for your lifestyle. Always research any breed before making a pet decision. But while we’re on the subject of looks, mutts often have a very unique appearance based on their diverse gene pool, making them one-of-a-kind and very special!

Lastly, let’s talk price. When buying a dog from a breeder or pet shop, you will spend hundreds of dollars for the dog. Then, you’ll pay for initial vet costs, with the potential for high vet bills down the road due to genetic issues. Conversely, when you adopt a dog, initial vet costs are usually included in the adoption fee. Important note: there are breed-specific rescues for almost every breed. Consider adopting a dog from a breed rescue! Save money—save a life!

When making a pet decision, do your homework! Remember that there are many amazing mixed and purebred dogs in shelters that need homes. And never judge a mutt by his cover. If you do, you’ll have to answer to me!

Ashley Owen Hill is the owner of Lucky Dog Retreat, 8659 Hillview Dr, Meridian. Email her at Ashley@luckydogretreatmeridian.com. Follow her blog at www.luckydogrescueblog.blogspot.com.


  1. Love me some Mutts!!
    Nice post Ashley!!
    Peg in TN

  2. It's about time someone spoke up for the Mutts! I have 2 myself and they are the best ever. Great job Missy.

  3. More important than the dollar price of a pet store dog, let’s remember the ethical cost of contributing to animal abuse.
    Pet store dogs come from puppy mills, period. Puppy mills are breeding farms that torture dogs by storing them in tiny, wire cages. They live their entire life without touching grass or being touched by a kind human. Their food is infested; their water is limited; they’re exposed to the weather; they have no solid surface on which to stand; they’re often brutally de-barked & otherwise injured – they live their entire lives in a wire trap.
    Most internet breeders are undercover puppy mills. No one is going to advertise themselves as a puppy mill.
    BUYING FROM A PET STORE that sells dogs – or from an unreliable internet breeder –
    DOES NOT SAVE A PUPPY’S LIFE!!! That puppy can be rescued. As far as I’m concerned, people who buy from pet stores that sell dogs are animal abusers through their support of an abusive industry.

  4. Love! & I find some mutts cuter than purebred dogs!

  5. I have come to realize that rescue dogs whether they are purebred or mutts seem to be more grateful than dogs you buy from a breeder. However whatever dog you decide on getting should be highly researched before you go through in getting the dog. Because not all breeds of dogs mix well together. I have purebred dogs and I have Dan he is my rescued mutt. They are all awesome and well behaved dogs but it's just something about the way Dan looks at me to let me know just how thankful he is to have a loving home, a plentiful of food and a warm bed to sleep in. I would trade him or any of the other for anything in the world

  6. *I wouldn't trade him or any of the others for anything in the world*

  7. Georgette, I couldn't agree more. I couldn't really present the article from that perspective for our paper, since they want me to keep things as light-hearted as possible, but I totally agree. I tried to be as unbiased as possible (even though we all know how I feel about this) and not too "rescue-y" for the sake of the paper. Thank you for your comment though, you are dead-on!

  8. Personally, I think "mutts" make better dogs.

  9. When I was picking up Daisy from the vet (she did great through her final heartworm treatment~Praise God!), I ran into "perfect dog owner." After hearing that Daisy was a rescue, this woman informed me that she had "read many books" and did her research before "purchasing" her German Shepherd puppy. (Incidentally, the first dog she has ever had.) She proudly told me that she drove all the way to Michigan to buy him. She wanted a "pure bred." Although, she adopted her cats from the pound...she would NEVER get a dog that way....because adopted dogs could be "riddled" with problems. I just looked at that ignorant woman as I scooped up my Miss Daisy to take her home. As I did, she looked at Daisy as if she were "less than" her dog. She asked, "What kind of dog is that?" "Is she good around other dogs?" She had a few other stupid questions that followed. My mommy claws, of course, came out. It hurt my heart that someone could look at Daisy and not see what a tremendous girl she is....with so much love inside her that just oozes out. After everything that Daisy has been through, she still has so much love to give. And wants to give it.
    I also thought to myself as I was getting in the car, "I wonder if her pure bred German Shepherd puppy has read the books?" She might be surprised when she finds out that he's like "other dogs." Bless her heart.;0)
    Love your blog and articles, Ashley!
    Amy Mahoney

  10. Great article - I love my mutt! She is sturdy :)


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