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Should You Adopt a Mutt? 7 Vet-Approved Reasons to Consider It

Written by: Matt Jackson

Last Updated on March 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

mutt dog sitting outdoor

Should You Adopt a Mutt? 7 Vet-Approved Reasons to Consider It


Dr. Alice Athow-Frost Photo


Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

BVM BVS MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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When I adopted my dog, Tula, the adoption company told me she was an Akita cross. She has a curled tail and, sometimes, when I see her in the right light, she has a thick Akita neck. She also shows her love in subtle ways. Tula definitely isn’t clingy and certainly has some Akita in her.

But she also howls like a Husky, jumps like a Malinois, and has the giant ears of a German Shepherd. And she’s not as stocky as an Akita. She loves nothing more than meeting and playing with other dogs on the beach. Traits that are not considered typically Akita. And that’s what you get when you adopt a mutt—a beautiful boiling pot of traits from various breeds.

Below, we look at some reasons why you should consider adopting a mutt, too.

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The 7 Reasons to Adopt a Mutt

1. You Save a Life

Tulah was rescued from a rubbish dump overseas. She’d had a broken leg that healed poorly, and I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t taken her in. And that’s what you get when you adopt. The chance to give an otherwise forgotten or abandoned dog a chance at a real life in a loving home with a caring family. Something every dog deserves.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing. The first few months after her arrival, she was scared and anxious. She didn’t bark once, wolfed down every scrap of food she could find, and that poorly healed broken leg has needed CT scans, X-rays, and operations (I am very thankful for pet insurance). There will be challenges ahead, but you will be giving a dog a second chance at a good life.

happy Pit Bull Terrier mixed breed dog looking up as its owner pets it
Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock

2. Mutts Are Less Expensive Than Purebred Dogs

Depending on the breed, purebred dogs can cost thousands of dollars to buy. Even some of the more popular hybrid breeds that have emerged recently can cost a lot of money. Mutts, or mongrels, on the other hand, do not attract this kind of ticket price and they can usually be picked up for a few hundred dollars from a rescue center.

The actual price you pay does depend on where you get the dog, however. But even insurance costs tend to be lower for mutts than purebred dogs, so you can save in this regard, too.

3. Adopting Is Less Expensive Than Buying

Shelters don’t look to make profits, but they do need to recoup some of the costs associated with rescuing a dog. They also have the dogs checked over by a vet, who will have them spayed or neutered and microchipped if they haven’t already been done.  They may also vaccinate the dog to protect them from infectious diseases.  And, they have to cover the cost of feeding, watering, and caring for the dogs.

These costs are where your adoption fees go, but they are almost always lower than you would pay if you bought a purebred dog from a breeder. You can expect to pay a few hundred dollars, rather than the thousands of dollars you would pay from a breeder.

And, by paying that money to the shelter, you are helping them pay for the costs of rescuing the next dog they take in.

Happy family at animal shelter choosing a dog for adoption
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

4. You Take Money Away from Puppy Mills

Reputable breeders certainly do exist. They keep all of their dogs and puppies in good condition, ensure they are fit and healthy, and they even vet prospective buyers to ensure that their puppies go to good homes. However, there are also large-scale puppy mills that churn puppies out as quickly as possible to make as much money as possible.

Puppy mills are commercial breeding farms where dogs are bred quickly and typically kept in poor conditions. They exist to make money and they survive because people buy dogs from them. The dogs themselves are generally kept in poor conditions and bred more often than is recommended. They don’t get socialized with people other than prospective buyers and cages are rarely cleaned out.

By adopting a dog, you not only save yourself money compared to buying a purebred dog, but you also take thousands of dollars away from puppy mills.

5. Mutts Can Be Healthier Than Purebred Dogs

Hereditary conditions are those that are passed on from one generation to the next when a parent passes on their genes to their offspring. Line breeding is fairly common with some purebred dogs. This effectively means breeding related dogs to ensure that desirable qualities are passed on to the next generation. It also means that the parent dogs are more likely to carry the same genetic markers.

Even where line breeding doesn’t occur, purebred dogs with highly desirable traits are bred extensively through that breed’s population passing on hereditary conditions to their puppies. The genetic gene pool amongst some pedigree  populations is very small which means the risk of inbreeding is increased.  Because mutts get their genes from a larger genetic pool, they are less likely to develop certain hereditary traits. One study found that 10 of 24 genetic disorders are more likely in purebred dogs, compared to just one being more likely in mutts. The other 13 genetic disorders studied were equally likely  to occur in pure breed and mixed-breed dogs.

In some cases, hereditary conditions are intentionally bred into purebred dogs. Brachycephalic dogs are those with scrunched-up faces, dogs like pugs and boxers. The facial conditions are considered desirable for their looks, but they can and do lead to vision and breathing problems throughout the dog’s life.

Adopting a mutt means you are more likely to get a dog that will lead a long and healthy life, although that isn’t always the case.

Pit-bull Chihuahua Mixed Breed Dog
Image Credit: mizkitty, Shutterstock

6. Every Mutt Is Unique

I haven’t had a DNA test done on Tula, yet, but I suspect she combines Akita, German Shepherd, and a few other breeds. Some fellow dog walkers comment that she looks like an Akita, while others say she looks like a Siberian husky. Both groups are probably right, and one thing I do know for sure is I’ve yet to see another dog that looks exactly like her.

There are hundreds of purebred dog breeds, and most mutts combine several of them, rather than just two. This means there are millions of possible combinations of breeds that go into every mutt, so there is a very good chance you will get a unique-looking dog with unique characteristics.

7. You See Them Develop

It’s true when you get a puppy that you get to see it develop from a little ball of fur into a characterful adult dog. When you adopt a mutt, the change can be even more profound, especially if the dog has had a challenging start in life. I’ve seen my own dog develop from a scared, anxious dog into a confident young adult.

The rescue did an amazing job with her. She was well-socialized with other dogs and even cats. She was mostly healthy, and she enjoyed meeting people. She’s kept these traits and has developed her own personality even in the few months I’ve had her. It has been incredible to see her gain confidence along the way, and you can enjoy watching that same journey if you rescue a mutt, too.

Image Credit: Annette Shaff, Shutterstock

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Rescuing a mutt not only gives the dog you adopt a second chance, but it also frees up space for another dog in the rescue. It provides the shelter with a little money so they can continue the hard work they do. Despite this, it costs less than buying a purebred dog, and you will usually find that insurance costs are lower too.

I totally understand why people want a purebred dog—you can choose the appearance and even the likely characteristics of a dog based on its breed. However, adopting a mutt has several benefits over buying a purebred dog, which is part of the reason why the majority of pet pooches in the US are mixed breeds.

Featured Image Credit: 12photography, Shutterstock

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