Advantages and Disadvantages of Cross Breeding Dogs

Kelly Roper
Litter of mixed breed pups

The practice of cross breeding tends to cause some controversy in the dog world. On one side, breeders of purebreds tend to consider these dogs nothing more than mutts. On the other side, proponents of crossbred dogs maintain they are adding vigor to the genetics of breeds they believe have been bred too closely for generations. Which side is right? That can be difficult to determine. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to the practice of cross breeding, and it's good for potential dog owners and breeders to be aware of them.

Advantages of Cross Breeding

First, take a look at the positive aspects of cross breeding. People who are strictly interested in purebred dogs often overlook these points.

Unique Look

Some people prefer a dog that doesn't look like any other breed they know, and cross breeding can certainly produce such a dog. When you combine two different breeds, it's a coin toss as to how the genetics will combine. This means that each puppy in a litter can look different from its littermates, and this can lead to a very interesting-looking litter.

Can Make Great Pets

Being a cross doesn't automatically mean the dog won't make a good pet. Proper socialization and training will bring out the best in any dog's temperament and behavior.

Fewer Congenital Issues in Some Cases

It's true that many purebred dogs suffer from genetic conditions that have been passed from one generation to the next. Careful cross breeding may lower the chances of passing on a particular condition if only one parent is a carrier.

May Become Foundation for a Future Pure Breed

Keep in mind that many of today's purebred dogs were founded on crosses of different breeds, and they have been refined through selective breeding to produce the consistent characteristics they display today.

Some of today's crosses could potentially evolve into tomorrow's pure breeds if breeders organize themselves and follow a specific plan to make that happen. The Cockapoo is one example of cross breeding that demonstrates this potential.

Disadvantages of Cross Breeding

Now it's time to consider some of the potentially negative aspects of cross breeding. Many cross breeders downplay the significance of these points, but they are still worth considering.

Difficult to Predict Temperaments

Pure breeds have been developed for different purposes, and their temperaments match those purposes closely. For example, Rottweilers tend to have bold and sometimes aggressive temperaments because they have been bred to be working guard dogs. Poodles were bred to hunt and be wonderful family companions. It would be difficult to predict the exact type of personality a cross breeding between these two dogs might produce.

Hard to Judge What Adult Size Will Be

German Shepherd Collie mix littermates

Size really can be an issue for some potential owners, especially if they live in a small home with limited yard space. If both parents are similar in size, you can expect the pups will probably be about the same size as adults. However, it would be extremely difficult for the average pet owner to predict the ultimate size of a cross between a Doberman Pinscher and a Boston Terrier.

Potential for High Risk Deliveries

From a pregnancy perspective, breeding dogs of different sizes can sometimes lead to difficult deliveries. This is especially so if the stud is much larger than the bitch, or he comes from a large-headed breed. A bitch of different breed may have more difficulty pushing the puppies out, and she may require a C-section in order for her and her puppies to survive.

Still a Strong Chance for Congenital Health Issues

Many congenital health issues, such as hip dysplasia, eye diseases, epilepsy and kidney disease, are found across multiple breeds. This means these conditions are still likely to show up in crossbred pups if both parents are carriers of one or more of the same genetic problems.

May Be More Expensive Than a Purebred

With all the interest in "designer dogs," some mixed breeds go for $1,000.00 or more. The average purebred puppy often costs between $300.00 to $500.00 unless it's an extremely popular or rare breed.

It's a Complicated Issue

Do the disadvantages really outweigh the advantages? It's very difficult to say, and that only fuels the controversy. In the end, cross breeding dogs is a lot like breeding purebreds. It's important to select only the healthiest dogs with the best temperaments to use as breeding stock, and then make sure that each puppy produced goes to a permanent, loving home.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cross Breeding Dogs