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Pedigree vs cross-breed: What's the Difference


Wednesday February 1st 2017



Adopting a dog is a long-term commitment. Regardless of whether it’s a pedigree or a cross-breed, you need to think carefully about whether you’ll be able to commit the time your pup needs to live a happy and healthy life.

However, there are some distinctions between adopting a pedigree and a crossbred dog, and it’s important to know what to expect when considering a new pet.

The basic distinctions

A dog that has purebred parents of the same breed is known as a pedigree. They are often born via specialised breeders who typically provide a birth certificate. The breeder will also usually register the dog with a pedigree dog authority, usually the Kennel Club.

The UK Kennel Club recognises over 200 breeds and there are over 400 breeds recognised worldwide, according to the RSPCA*.

A cross-bred dog is a hound that has two pedigree parents of different breeds. There are also mongrels that have both cross-breed mother and father.

Expect the unexpected

The main advantage a pedigree has over a crossbreed or mongrel is that an owner can be near-certain of some of the traits their new pet will have.

These can include physical aspects, such as health, size or even the length of their fur, but you can also predict behavioural traits such as temperament, energy levels and how quickly they respond to training.

• For example, breeds such as border collies and are known for their intelligence and being able to follow commands. While a Bichon Frise dog or Yorkshire terrier are known for keeping their coat and not shedding fur on the carpets and furniture.

Comparatively, cross-breeds and mongrels are less predictable and a puppy could grow into a dog that you are not expecting.

Rather than a cute toy-breed with a fluffy tail, you could end up with an enormous hound with a short, wagging stump. It’s near-impossible to know how big a dog will grow when they’re just a puppy or what physical characteristics they’ll have, other than colour.

Rather than taking the best behavioural traits of both breeds, you could end up with the worst of both and your unpredictable cross-breed could turn out to be an uncontrollable nightmare.

The healthiest hound

While crossbred dogs and mongrels are not immune to genetic conditions and aren’t always healthier than purebreds, research by The Institute of Canine Biology suggests pedigree dogs have a significantly greater risk of developing health disorders.

The study involved 27,000 dogs and compared 24 genetic disorders in mixed versus pedigree hounds.

For example, certain terriers, Swedish hounds and Samoyeds are 10 times more likely to suffer from diabetes, a report* into pedigree welfare states.

Additionally, a Kennel Club survey* finds heart problems are most likely to affect Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, miniature poodles, and smaller breeds of dogs.

Hereditary conditions can also be passed on to first-cross mixed breeds.

However, it’s important to know that regardless of whether a dog is a pedigree, crossbreed or mongrel they can still be at risk of killer diseases and owners should make sure their pooch’s vaccinations are up to date.

Which is more expensive?

Though the cost can vary depending on breed, buying a pedigree dog from a specialist breeder is much more likely to set you back more than the adoption fee of a crossbreed or mongrel pooch.

Years of non-diverse, selective breeding means many pedigree breeds are prone to hereditary diseases, which means vet bills can also be more expensive, and more frequent.

Looking after your pup

The health, wellbeing and happiness of the pooch must be paramount when looking to adopt a new dog. You need to be prepared to set aside lots of extra time and commitment to look after the new addition to your family.

As well as making sure you have the financial means to take on a new pet, a happy hound needs regular walks, lots of interaction and playtime.

Some pedigree breeds, such as Siberian huskies, boxer dogs and Rottweilers, will require extra attention as they are more inclined to become bored. Boredom in dogs can lead to stress, anxiety or depression. This is also true of crossbreeds with a working dog heritage.

*Read the RSPCA’s full report on Pedigree Dog Breeding in the UK Click here