The word “Mongrel” has assumed negative connotations (as does the word “bitch”), making it a slightly awkward term. So let’s call them Mutts. What the term embodies is a diverse group of dogs of mixed and essentially unknown parentage. If you find a good natured one, he will be every bit as loyal, clever and priceless as the most expensive pedigree.
Every one different - a basket of Mutts is a wonderful sight!
Mutts are genetically diverse, as they have not been selectively bred for specific traits. They are less prone to diseases and physical problems than some of the slightly sickly pedigrees. The genetic ragbag tends to produce medium to small dogs with a terrier-like look to them.
Traditionally Mutts were the poor cousins of the purebreds, but it’s great to see some shows introducing Mutt categories in recent years. The famous dog show Crufts, for example, now has a Scruffts contest in parallel to the Pedigree event.
There are always lots of shelter dogs looking for an owner
Advantages Of Mutts
- Individuality. Each mutt is unique, a canine limited edition. Isn’t that a lovely thought?
- Price. You’re unlikely to pay more than a token sum for a mutt, and may even get one for free. This is because you don't know what your dog will look like, if you're taking it home as a puppy. The parent dogs are not always sufficient clue to tell you want the pups will look like when they’re fully grown; but in general you’re looking at the small to medium terrier-type.
- Health. Due to the randomness of their breeding, mutts are less prone to inherited diseases than most pedigree dogs. That translates into lower vet bills. They also tend to live longer than pedigree breeds, often to 15 and a bit beyond, which means you could have your loving dog around for a little longer.
A happy boy enjoying a walk with his best friend - a mixed breed she-dog called Saffy
Disadvantages of Mutts
- Unknown ancestry. Their unknown ancestry mean that the size, appearance and behavioural traits of mutts are not guaranteed. If the pup has been rescued from feral dogs, for example, chances are the father was the tough guy of the neighborhood – not the kind of character you want in your family home.
- No guarantees. It’s certainly true that if you have children, it’s a good idea to get a dog with a known temperament, which means a pedigree, a crossbreed, or a mutt with six months behind him so his personality and dimensions have become clear.
It's a far better life for an unwanted dog to be rescued rather than end up on the streets like these strays
If you don’t have space or inclination for a large dog, that last point is very important – you need to know how big your mutt will grow. If you’re having to make a decision based on a puppy, and no other clues, there are a couple of hints as to what lies in store, size-wise:
- Generally, the size of a puppy’s feet can be used to predict his size as a full grown dog. The larger the paws, compared to the rest of the body, the larger the mutt.
- By the age of four months, a dog should be about two thirds of its final adult size, so you can definitely do the math at that stage.