By Katie Walsh
The ears of a Boston terrier. The snout of a pit bull. The body of a Jack Russell terrier. The tail of a hound. And the coat of all of the above.
That’s how I’d describe our beloved mutt Ren, whom we adopted from Rural Dog Rescue nearly two years ago. A DNA test (which cost about $80 and was TOTALLY WORTH IT, in my opinion) confirmed as much:
The other pup we adopted from RDR, Ginger, is also a mutt -- very clearly a beagle with just a hint of some other random hound breed. So with that, aside from their Gotcha Days, there is one other day my husband and I can celebrate our fur babies: July 31, National Mutt Day.
According to the National Mutt Day website, 80 percent of all shelter dogs are mutts, and of the purebreds that end up in shelters, most are adopted very quickly. It’s the mutts that languish in crowded shelters, more likely to face being put to sleep solely because their pedigree isn’t recognized by the AKC. But as the owner of two such mutts, I’m here to tell you they are just as worthy of love and affection as any purebred pup. Here are some of the top reasons why:
1. Mixed breed dogs are an instant conversation starter.
I outlined my dog Ren at the beginning of this blog post. She really is a looker:
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out on walkies with her and people stop me to ask what kind of dog she is. I’ve even had people yell out the window of their cars after her!
It happens with Ginger, too… just a little less frequently since she’s such a beagle baby:
In any case, I would talk to the folks in my neighborhood a whole lot less if I didn’t have these two babies with me traipsing up and down the street. People always want to know what they are, and I benefit from that by making new friends every day.
2. Mixed breed dogs are healthier than purebreds.
I had heard this statistic thrown around anecdotally before, but turns out there is actual science behind this! A study conducted through vet records at the University of California, Davis found that purebred dogs tend to suffer from hereditary disorders more frequently than mixed breed dogs. In fact, the researchers found 10 disorders that occurred 42 percent more frequently in purebreds than in mutts!
My family just lost their 15-year-old dog, and I didn’t even live with him but I bawled my eyes out when I found out. I love my rescue dogs so, so much, and I want to spend as much time with them as possible, so it’s a huge comfort to me to know that their mixed breed background is likely to help them stay on this earth just a little bit longer.
3. It costs less to get a mutt.
While dogs are expensive no matter what way you slice it (and that should be something every would-be dog owner should know -- food, toys, vet bills, doggie daycare, dog walkers and vacation boarding really add up!), the price of a purebred pup at the outset eclipses the price of a rescue mutt. For example, a golden retriever from a reputable breeder can range well into the thousands. Compare that with RDR’s low, low price of $300 -- that’s a bargain by anyone’s standards.
4. Saving a mutt doesn’t contribute to the puppy mill problem.
The desire for certain purebreds or designer breeds gives way to a seedy underbelly of irresponsible breeders. Puppy mills churn out dogs as fast as a mother can have them, generally without regard as to whether it’s even healthy for her to do so. Even more than that, the puppies tend to live in poor, overcrowded conditions, which causes them to have serious illnesses. They also tend to be separated from their mothers at extremely early ages, so they end up developing behavioral problems.
It’s just a horrible situation that no dog deserves to be in. If the demand for purebred dogs decreases, so will the demand for puppy mills. Rescuing a mutt will definitely give you some good karma points.
So, today, if you’ve been thinking about pulling the trigger on becoming a dog parent, please please please consider rescuing a pup instead of seeking out a breeder. I think I’ve offered some pretty compelling reasons to invest in a mutt, but if you need one more, here’s a picture of my Ren snuggling under a blanket:
Happy National Mutt Day!