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 GoPetFriendly.com and ThisOneWildLife.com, 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.