A mixed-breed dog, or mongrel, or mutt, can be the best dog for you and your family. Because a mutt includes parents of different breeds, he probably has “hybrid vigor.” Hybrid vigor means the dog will be more healthy, intelligent and strong than any of the single breeds in his ancestry.
At her best, the mongrel has the best characteristics of all her ancestors. In fact, the most common mutt resembles the original wild dog that our human ancestors domesticated thousands of years ago. It is medium to light brown, stands less than two feet high and weighs between thirty-five and fifty pounds. His ears are pointed and erect, and his tail has a little curl at the end.
The ancestry of your mixed-breed dog depends on what sort of dogs are popular where you live. Tiny dogs, such as Chihuahuas, rarely contribute to the mix, partly because of their size and partly because they are usually kept indoors.
If cost is a major factor for you, pick a mutt at your local animal shelter. Mixed-breed dogs are much less expensive than purebreds. Because they usually do not inherit any of the genetic defects that may plague their purebred cousins, you may ultimately save a great deal on vet bills, too. Your mongrel will need his shots and regular visits to the veterinarian, but he may well live a longer, healthier life than a purebred dog.
You should know that you cannot tell from looking at a mongrel puppy how big he will be when adult, or what type of coat he will have. Your mutt’s parents carry genes from many different breeds, and just which ones your dog inherited is impossible to predict.
Temperament, too, is inherited from both parents. If you have children, be leery of mutts whose ancestry includes aggressive or headstrong breeds, or nervous, nippy ones, because that behavior is likely to show up in their offspring. If you are adopting, the way your new mongrel was raised may be even more important.
Shelter workers usually test dogs to see how much energy they have, how quickly they learn, and how they inter-relate with children, adults, and other animals.