Sunday, 26 February 2017

Pedigree or Crossbreed?

Pedigree or Crossbreed?

What is the difference between Pedigree or a crossbreed dog?

A pedigree dog and a mixed breed dog - what's the difference? Purebred dogs can probably trace their ancestry hundreds of years, while crossbreed or mongrel dogs would be impossible to trace, it can be assumed to be some of are, at least in part, from the oldest dog types in the world.

Pedigree Dogs are from 2 purebred parent dogs, of the same breed, that have been registered with a breed authority such as the Kennel Club (UK) or American Kennel Club. One or both parents may have a long line of accredited dogs including show champions.

Crossbreeds and mongrels are dogs that one or both parent dogs that are not registered and/or are not of the same breed. While some crossbreeds are deliberate - such as Labradoodle or Sprockers, many more are just 'accidents'! 

German Spitz
Who knows!

What are the Pro's and Con's of a pedigree and a crossbreed?


There are many pro's and con's to purebred dogs. Well publicised is the extremes some breeders (and authorities) have pushed certain dog types to the very limits, and beyond, of what is healthy. For instance the 'sloping back' of a GSD (German Shepherd Dog) or the ever flatter faces of some breeds such Pugs. It could be argued that the judges at the largest (and most reputable!) dog shows, such as Crufts and The Westminster Show, have pushed these extremes by picking dogs that show the most pronounced signs of these conditioners as the breed 'perfect' dogs.Therefore encouraging breeders to select dogs that have these conditions as breeding dogs and have exaggerated the form over successive generations.
Sloping Back 

Straight Back

Pedigrees also suffer from breeding from a limited gene pool - some individual dogs are highly sort after for breeding for their line (genetic history) and show credentials (mainly male) -  which leads to potential inherent health problems such as hip dysplasia in Labradors and GSD's, breathing difficulties in flat faced breeds, and weak backs / spines in long dogs such as Dachshunds.

However there are many reasons why a pedigree dog would be the ideal choice. The potential owner may have a specific need for a dog, such as a working dog for herding (Border Collies), or country pursuits (Springers). Guide Dogs have traditionally been Labradors, but Labradoodles & Retrievers are being trained and chosen as assistance dogs too. Service dogs such as Police dogs Rottweilers & GSD's. Sniffer dogs Springers and Spaniels. 
Sniffer Dog

With pedigree dogs the size, temperament and 'special' requirements are generally well known. If you have little time or enthusiasm for grooming, then the Afghan may not be for you! But the Poodle would be perfect. However, if you love large dogs, then the Great Dane or Irish Wolfhound would fulfil that need. Apartment dwellers might prefer a smaller breed, Chihuahua or Yorkie. Companion or PATS (pets as therapy) dogs need to have a calm and patient temperament, so breeds such as Bichon Frise or Labrador.
Companion Dog

Certain breeds are great for families/ individuals new to having a dog in their lives. So easy to train and care for breeds may be what is required - such as Poodle or Retreiver. Both are highly intelligent, so respond well to training.


While mixed breed dogs generally don't have any of the inherent problems of pedigrees they can still be prone towards certain ailments or conditions. Jack Russells tend to have slipping patellas (knees) in one or both back legs. Boxer crosses can carry the cancer gene.
Jack Russell Terrier

The other major consideration is that there is often no way of telling which breeds make up a particular dog! Which means the owner has no idea of temperament, grooming requirements or even how big the dog will get - shelters are full of dogs that the owners have abandoned because they didn't realise the dog would get so big or shed so much on their new sofa!

Often the joy of a 'mutt' is that uncertainty! 

Deliberate mixed breeds or 'Designer' breeds are easier to identify, so a lot of the uncertainty can be reduced. Most designer breeds have their own names often indicating the parentage -  including the Pugle (Pug & Beagle), Cockerpoo (Cocker Spaniel & Poodle) & Pomsky (Pomeranian & Husky). These breeds are often combined to create a very appealing, 'cute' puppy, which can be very desirable and therefore they can get very expensive, some commanding much higher prices than pedigrees!

Due to their popularity, designer breeds, may have unknown backgrounds or history, such as being puppy farm bred and having very poor health due to lack of care. Alot are sold purely for financial gain without any regard to the puppy or mothers health and wellbeing. This can lead not only to health problems & hidden 'defects' but also longevity (the lack of it!) and personality traits not normally associated with the breeds, such as aggression over food or territory.

However some breed have been combined for positive reasons such as easing inherent health problems. But also for the 2 dogs different abilities combined to make  a breed suited for a specific task. Labradoodles were originally breed in Australia for the Labradors ease of training and patience, and the Poodles intelligence and none shedding / allergy free coat. Making them the number one choice for assistance dogs.

In conclusion

It would seem that both the pedigree and the crossbreeds have plenty of merit. While pedigree dogs may be more expensive, and the new owner may have wait in line for a specific breeder or breed to have puppies - some potential owners may have to jump through hoops to prove themselves worthy of the puppy, especially if it is a very popular unusual breed or the requirement is gender / colour specific. At least you know what you are getting - well.........mainly!

'Mutts' on the other hand can be found just about anywhere - from shelters to your neighbour's much prized pampered pooch who had an 'accident' with the local Collie! 

Often the choice can come down to what you know! If you have always had Jack Russells from shelters in the family, chances are that will happen again (and again!), Maybe only a Saint Bernard from a particular breeder will do. Whichever you choose, or have chosen i am sure you will agree that pedigree and crossbreed have a lot to offer and that your own dog is the best in the world!

'My' best dog in the world
If you would like more information, there are plenty of websites online including :

Some of the information and pictures in this article have come from public access sites and searches. While we will always try to give credit where it is due, sometimes this is not possible if the original source is not readily available.