Celebrating America’s Mutts

Today we celebrate America’s mutts! Yes, it’s National Mutt Day.

And there’s no question that these lovable dogs deserve their own day of recognition. In fact, according the first-ever National Mutt Census that was published in 2011, more than 50% of dogs in the United States are mixed breeds. That’s approximately 38 million pooches.

The Mutt Census coincided with the people census at the time. Mutt owners were asked to participate in an online survey. Each respondent supplied information about their dog’s size, weight, place of origin, feeding and exercise habits, and health. That information, along with an additional 36,000 DNA samples collected from mixed-breed dogs, using at-home doggie DNA testing kits, underwent analysis to determine the breed history of each dog.

One key finding revealed that the most common breeds registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) are not necessarily the ones most often found in mixed-breed dogs. For example, while German shepherds are popular both as purebreds and mixes, the chow chow, a popular purebred in the 1980s, is now commonly found at the grandparent or great-grandparent level among mixed-breed dogs tested. And American Staffordshire terrier mixes appear to be growing in popularity despite a trend of declining AKC breed registrations.

According to canine geneticists, this information provides a snapshot of past and present trends in mutts as the DNA of America’s mixed-breed dogs tells a story of which breeds were popular in past decades. If a breed was trendy in the past, but has fallen from popularity, it may still represent a large portion of the current mixed-breed population.

According to the National Mutt Census, the top 10 most popular breeds found in the mixed-breed population are:

1. German shepherd

2. Labrador retriever

3. Chow chow

4. Boxer

5. Rottweiler

6. Poodle

7. American Staffordshire terrier

8. Golden retriever

9. Cocker spaniel

10. Siberian husky

But there is a new breed of mixed breeds that has become trendy in the last decade namely, designer dogs. These mixes are being deliberately “created” by breeders and slowly earning recognition such as the Cockapoo , a cross of Cocker Spaniel and Poodle. Other popular designer dogs include the Maltipoo, a Maltese and Poodle cross. The Labradoodle is a Labrador Retriever-Poodle hybrid, the Goldendoodle, is a Poodle and Golden Retriever mix while the Maltese Shih Tzu is a cross between a Maltese and Shih Tzu And one of my favorites is the Puggle a Pug and Beagle.

And, who knows, the time may come when they are fully recognized by the AKC, too.


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