Part 2: Purebred vs. Mixed-Breed

Now that you know you are ready to own a dog, it’s time to start educating yourself about dogs and make some important decisions. The first of these will be whether you want a purebred or mixed breed dog.

Purebred dogs

Purebred dogs are cultivated through selective breeding — by mating two dogs of the same breed that have desirable characteristics. Dog breeds were originally cultivated to service humans in a variety of situations and over time have developed characteristics ideally suited to those functions. Based on these “working behaviours,” dog breeds are divided into the following groups:

Sporting Group

Sporting breeds contain dogs cultivated to help humans in hunting game birds. The group comprises Pointers, Retrievers and Spaniels (flushers). Examples of sporting breeds are Weimaraners, Labrador Retrievers and English Springer Spaniels.


Hounds were cultivated to follow prey, and can be divided further into Scenthounds and Sighthounds. Scenthounds, which include Basset Hounds, Bloodhounds and Beagles, use their nose to sniff out the prey, while Sighthounds, such as Afghan Hounds and Whippets, follow their prey by sight.

Working Group

According to various pet services who know a lot about terriers, breeds in this group come in a variety of sizes, but all served their masters by hunting and killing rodents. Parson Russell Terrier, Tibetan Terrier and Wire Fox Terrier are some common breeds belonging to this group.


Breeds in this group come in a variety of sizes, but all served their masters by hunting and killing rodents. Parson Russell Terrier, Tibetan Terrier and Wire Fox Terrier are some common breeds belonging to this group.

Toy Group

Toy dogs were cultivated to please and delight their owners, although some also served as warmers for their masters’ hands and feet. Pugs, Shih Tzus and Poodles are well-known toy breeds.

Herding Group

The herding group was a subset of the working group and their work has traditionally been to herd flocks of cattle, sheep or ducks. German Shepherds, Border Collies and Sheepdogs all belong to this group.

Non-Sporting Group

According to articles on sites like Jobs for Vet Techs, this group contains a variety of dogs, many of which had specialized jobs to do, and its name hails from the early days of dog shows, when there were only two categories: sporting and non-sporting. Some popular non-sporting breeds are Lhasa Apsos, Bulldogs, Dalmatians and Chow Chows.

Pros and Cons of Purebred Dogs

The greatest advantages of owning a purebred dog include the ability to predict behaviours and physical traits, the ability to choose desirable characteristics based on breed and the option of participating in dog shows and competitions.

  • Knowing the lineage of a dog, especially when you are adopting a puppy, can give you a good idea of its physical and temperamental traits. Professional breeders work to eliminate problems and accentuate desirable behaviours by breeding dogs that have similar characteristics.
  • If you want a dog for a special purpose, such as guarding or hunting rodents, you can choose a purebred accordingly.
  • Knowing more about the dog’s parents and their health problems can help you make a more informed decision and also take more precautions as the dog grows up.
  • If you want to compete in dog shows or canine sports, you will want to choose a pedigree.


  • Purebred dogs tend to be more expensive, and in some cases can cost as much as £3,000, depending on the rarity or popularity of the breed. If you are not interested in showing your dog, consider getting a puppy or dog through a breed rescue group, as their rates are much more reasonable.
  • Purebreds can have breed-specific health problems or can be more susceptible to certain ailments due to selective breeding and less genetic variety. The best way to guard against problems is to have the pup’s parents tested for such traits beforehand and get relevant certifications (from the breeder or rescue group) for the same.
  • Pure breeding, while a good indicator, is not a guarantee of what a puppy will act or look like when it grows up.
  • Moreover, many purebreds exhibit “working behaviours” like high energy levels, digging, chasing etc, and depending on your needs, these can be a nuisance. But remember that these are the traits the breed was built for, so instead of being annoyed when your dog begins to exhibit them, it’s much better to research breed characteristics beforehand.

Mixed Breed Dogs

Mixed-breed dogs are those of unknown or uncertain ancestry, which exhibit characteristics of two or more breeds or are descendants of wild breeds. As opposed to purebred dogs who are cultivated to have specific desirable characteristics, mixed-breed dogs mate more naturally and without human intervention.

Pros and Cons of Mixed-breed dogs

Due to natural selection, mixed-breed dogs have several advantages:

  • Since mixed-breed dogs are developed through cross-breed mating, their physical and temperamental traits tend to be more moderate than those of purebred dogs. Most mixed-breed dogs are of medium height and exhibit less peculiar or breed-specific behaviours.
  • Mixed-breed dogs have more genetic diversity than purebred dogs, and for this reason they don’t suffer as much from breed-specific health problems.
  • Mixed-breed dogs are cheaper.


  • Since you don’t know the lineage of the dog, you cannot know what it will grow up to look or act like.
  • You can’t eliminate the possibility of health problems. Mixed breeding is not a guarantee of good health; the dog may be an offspring of parents who had similar health problems or defective genes. Moreover, it’s quite likely that his parents were not tested for any problems or kept out of the gene pool for that reason.
  • Since you don’t know what genes your dog has, it’s not a good idea to use him for breeding further, even if no health problems are noticeable.

Image courtesy of wonderlane

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One Response to “Part 2: Purebred vs. Mixed-Breed”

  1. Tom says:

    Very helpful pros and cons. Thank you.

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