Monday, May 5, 2014

Are Hybrid Dogs Healthier Than Purebreds?

Two first generation Lab x Poodle crosses that look different.
Designer dogs don't always breed true, meaning
traits are not set. (But vive la difference.)
Are hybrid dogs healthier than their purebred counterparts?  It depends. Many hybrid (aka designer dogs) are made up of breeds so closely related that they carry the same genetic variants.  Although they don't always breed true, the Labrador Retriever and Poodle are both water retrievers with very close ancestry. The expression of shared inherited diseases may be lower than either parent, but still high in comparison to a cross between, for instance, a  Greyhound and  Schnauzer, breeds that are more distantly related. The table below lists ten breeds and their most common genetic afflictions. Notice how some breeds share the same inherited diseases.
Most common inherited pathologies in ten different breeds.
You can see a list of all breeds at
the  Canine Inherited Disorders Database

This is not a scientific study. It's just a means of illustrating why hybrid dogs may not be healthier than their purebred parents.  If you want a designer dog with less incidence of inherited disease, cross two dogs that don't share the same pathologies.
The Baseji and Standard Schnauzer have few traits in common.  They would make a cute and likely healthy puppy.
If you want to see how your dog stacks up, check out the Canine Inherited Disorders Database.  What I like most is they tell you which disorders most seriously affect health, which ones are less devastating and which ones are associated with the conformation of the dog.  For example, Pugs, English Bulldogs and a plethora of other breeds with seriously shortened muzzles suffer from an inherited disorder that affects the amount of oxygen they get.  So it's only a disease in that people like the mutation and keep breeding for it, which I really don't get.


  1. That is something I never knew about until I had a dog again, which is why I do like purebreds from reputable breeders. Nothing worse than getting a pup and finding out he has a short life.


  2. I prefer purebreds as well.....Very interesting Disorders Database, found my girls there, fortunately no nasty surprises....