In 2013, there was a bit of an uproar about a study from the University of California, Davis comparing the health of purebred and mixed breed dogs. Much of the press coverage (and, indeed, the press release from UC Davis itself) suggested that the study found that mixed breed dogs were not healthier than purebred dogs, as campaigners often maintain.
What UC, Davis said about the study
The article released found on UC Davis’ website starts with a strong statement.
If you think your mixed-breed pup is naturally hardier than the neighbour’s purebred, you may want to think again. A new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, indicates that mixed breeds don’t necessarily have an advantage when it comes to inherited canine disorders.
What the study really said
The study itself (PDF) clearly states the following results, and we have simply copied and pasted their own wording without editing one word.
Objective—To determine the proportion of mixed-breed and purebred dogs with common genetic disorders.
Animals—27,254 dogs with an inherited disorder.
Results—Genetic disorders differed in expression. No differences in expression of 13 genetic disorders were detected between purebred dogs and mixed-breed dogs (ie, hip dysplasia, hypo- and hyperadrenocorticism, cancers, lens luxation, and patellar luxation). Purebred dogs were more likely to have 10 genetic disorders, including dilated cardiomyopathy, elbow dysplasia, cataracts, and hypothyroidism. Mixed-breed dogs had a greater probability of ruptured cranial cruciate ligament.
In fact, when you looked closely at the data above, it showed nothing of the sort. It actually found that mixed breeds were, overall, healthier than purebreds. We have computed those results into a comparative table for you to visualize the data in a more intelligible manner.
|MORE IN PUREBREEDS||MORE IN MIXED BREEDS||NO DIFFERENCE|
|Aortic stenosis||Ruptured cranial cruciate ligament||Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy|
|Dilated cardiomyopathy||Mitral valve dysplasia|
|Elbow dysplasia||Patent ductus arteriosus|
|IVDD||Ventricular septal defect|
|Atopy / allergic dermatitis||Lymphoma|
|Bloat||Mast cell tumor|
|Epilepsy (total)||Hip dysplasia|
|Portosystemic shunt||Patellar luxation|
Carol Beuchat, from the Institute of Canine Biology, has written a blog about it and she includes this telling graphic of what the study actually found. The disorders suffered more by purebreds are shown above the zero line, and disorders more common in mixed breeds are expressed below the line. One of them, hit by a car, is obviously not genetic.
Amazing, isn’t it, that anyone could have interpreted it as proving that mixed breeds are not healthier?
Should breeders stop breeding purebred dogs?
Based on the findings of this study, it is not advisable for dog breeders to abruptly cease purebred dog breeding and switch to mongrels. However, these results provide valuable insights into how dog breeding practices can be modified to reduce the prevalence of certain genetic disorders in canines.
At BreedingBusiness.com, we strongly support responsible dog breeding, whether it involves purebred dogs or mongrels. We are genuinely passionate about breeding purebred dogs, but we also emphasize the importance of being aware of the current genetic situation. The good news is that there are simple measures that can be taken before mating to prevent the further increase of genetic conditions.
Let’s remain committed to breeding healthy purebred dogs and restoring the well-deserved reputation of our favorite breeds