Blog the Change: Adopting Mixed Breed Dogs

Blog the Change

Today is Blog the Change Day, a quarterly effort to focus attention on topics important to the world of animal welfare. The Be the Change for Animals project, a joint effort by and, joins up the posts of many animal lovers from throughout the blogosphere.

While there are SO many important topics in the field to write about, we wanted to spend a few minutes writing about a topic very close to our home and our hearts: mixed breed adoption.

First, let’s set the record straight: we love all dogs. Purebreds, hybrids (the purposeful mix of two purebred dogs), and mixed breed dogs. We’ve shared our love with several purebreds, starting with Paris’ first dog, a purebred dachshund named Peanut, all the way to Alby, a stray that turned out to be a purebred Australian Cattle Dog who passed away just before we adopted Irie nearly three years ago. And we spent 15 great years with sweet Hershey, from a litter than resulted when an acquaintance’s  purebred Springer Spaniel got a little too friendly with her neighbor’s purebred Newfoundland, making Hershey a hybrid or “designer dog” before the name was even coined.

But mixed breeds–real mixes of mixes–have a special charm all their own. Maybe it’s the wonder of having a truly one-of-a-kind dog, one that’s not going to be confused with anyone else’s dog. Maybe it’s the mystery of wondering just what breeds lie in your dog’s family tree. Or perhaps it’s looking in that young dog’s face and wondering just what he’ll look like when he grows up.

Breed-specific rescues perform a wonderful service matching potential adopters to a dog that matches the breed they’re seeking. But there are far fewer groups out there specializing in mixed breed dogs and sadly they don’t receive as much attention as some of the breed-specific rescues. With fewer rescue groups to pull them, mixed breed dogs make up the bulk of shelter populations, with purebreds accounting for only around 25 percent.

Sometimes mixed breed dogs are overlooked because they’re not a recognizable breed. Other times, the shelters guess at the breed incorrectly and potential adopters, searching for a certain type of dog, completely miss the dog’s listing.

And other times, shelters take their best guess at a dog’s breed and it’s wrong…but that incorrect guess might turn off potential adopters. This was almost the case with our Tiki. The shelter guessed she was a border collie mix. We checked through our local shelter’s listings on Petfinder and, seeing that she was a border collie mix, decided against her since, at the time, we also had our 14-year-old Yoda (he was also a mix of mixes). We decided that a potentially high-energy six-month-old border collie would be too much for an elderly dog (although then year-old Irie would have loved it.)

But then we visited the shelter and looked at all the dogs…and just fell in love with Tiki. She was happy and outgoing but, even at such a young age, not high energy. She turned out to be the perfect companion both for Irie and for Yoda…and for us. (And the next year, a DNA test revealed that Tiki wasn’t part border collie but a mix of doberman, poodle, Shetland sheepdog, bulldog, and other breeds too faint to detect.)

Mixed breed dogs remind us that we’re all individuals. Although behavior might be more predictable in purebreds, remember that even within a purebred litter you’ll find variety. (Just think: are you just like your own siblings? Probably not.)

Meet the individual dogs. Take the time to access their behavior, their energy level, and their needs then make the decision based on how those factors match your own lifestyle. You just might find a true match in a mixed breed dog that can offer you the pedigree that’s most important of all: pure love.

Read more posts in today’s Be the Change for Animals event:

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About Paris Permenter & John Bigley

Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the award-winning authors of over 30 pet and travel books as well as the founders and publishers of CatTipper and DogTipper.

  • Carole in AZ

    Seems to me that this post applies not only to canines… Great post!

  • It’s funny to me, that in a nation that prides itself on non-conformism, so many people want purebred dogs. As Americans, shouldn’t we put greater value on dogs who are truly unique?

    • That’s such a good point, Kyla! And when you look at the premium placed on uniqueness when it comes to purchases like custom homes and custom-designed jewelry, it’s such a shame that people can’t put that same value on getting a unique dog!

  • What a great article! All of our dogs are rescued, two purebreds and one mix. I have to say that our mix is the healthiest and most obedient of the three and I love that she is a ‘one of a kind’ and many people ask what kind of dog she is and I’m proud to say she is a mix. Purebred or mix, like your wrongly guessed ‘Border’ mix, temperament should come first when adding a companion to your home. (And, of course, please adopt rather than shop.)

    • Thank so much, Donna! I love having one of a kind dogs. People sometimes guess at least some of the breeds that make up our Irie (she’s lab/coonhound/GSP) but very rarely guess Tiki’s mix. I just say, “She’s a mix of mixes…she’s a Tiki Dog!” She’s the smartest dog we’ve ever had!

  • Great points! My mixed breed, Frankie, was rescued under the aegis of Arizona Schnauzer Rescue because there is no “Cute Fuzzy Dogs of Indeterminate Origin Rescue.” It’s possible he might have gotten adopted out anyway without a rescuer to foster him for a while, but it’s possible that he might not have, because he was older and shy.

    • Thanks, Edie!! That’s so interesting that Frankie was at a Schnauzer rescue; when I first saw his photo he reminded me of our Yoda (the shelter thought he was a Schnauzer mix, but I don’t think he really was.) Frankie’s a lucky fellow! Our Irie is shy like Frankie (but Irie’s mostly shy with people. She likes other dogs although she came to us with some serious scars the vet thought were caused by a dogfight.)

  • This was an absolutely wonderful post – I love mixed breeds, and you really articulated many of the things that are so great about having a mutt. Mutts rule! 🙂

    • Thanks so much! I love the mixed breeds, and there are SO many great ones out there that need homes!!

  • I never owned a mixed breed dog. There is this fear in me that mixed dogs are hard to handle. Adopting dogs is cool though, we should always take care of dogs specially those abandoned.