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Mixed Breed Dog Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

mixed breed dog

Start your mixed breed dog off on the right foot by feeding the right food, giving the right vaccinations, finding the right vet, and if you're going to spay or neuter, don't do it too early.

Jump down to this list of
Mixed Breed Health Problems

Or check out my advice for raising a healthy mixed breed puppy or adult dog:

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your mixed breed dog lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet... [read more]

numeral 33 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food
You can dramatically increase your dog's chances of living a long, healthy life by feeding the right food. Cutting right to the chase, the best foods for your mixed breed dog are... [read more]

Real homemade dog food A Quick Way To Make Homemade Dog Food
Your mixed breed will love real chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, yogurt, broccoli.... this is not just "people food" and I'll tell you why... [read more]

Dry kibble and canned dog food 5 Best Kibble and Canned Dog Foods
Some are better than others, but I must be honest – I'm not a huge fan of dry or canned dog food. Here are my concerns... [read more]

Information on booster shots for your German Shepherd. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your mixed breed puppy really need? Does your adult dog need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you... [read more]

Information on spaying Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Should your female mixed breed be spayed? Current research says, "The AGE at which you spay can be vitally important to your dog's future health." So what's the best age? [read more]

Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Have you been told that you must neuter your male mixed breed dog? Current research shows that the issue is not so simple. Pet owners are not being told about some risks associated with neutering male dogs, especially neutering too early... [read more]

Information on choosing the best vet Make Sure Your Vet is the Best!
Is your current veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Here's how to tell... [read more]

Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review
Does your dog suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to reduce inflammation and pain. [read more]

mixed breed dog

Mixed breed dog health problems

Over 300 genetic health problems occur in PUREBRED dogs.

Orthopedic diseases like hip dysplasia, disk disease, loose kneecaps that pop out of their sockets. Heart diseases. Epilepsy. Eye diseases like cataracts and glaucoma, that can result in blindness. Inherited cancers. Autoimmune diseases. Diabetes and thyroid disease. Inherited kidney and liver diseases. Digestive diseases like colitis, pancreatitis, and bloat. All manners of skin diseases and chronic allergies.

Now, mixed breed dogs can inherit most of those diseases, too. But frequently the risk is lower in mixed breeds than in purebreds.

Why is the risk lower in mixed breeds?

  1. First, because most mixed breeds have a normal dog shape. Whereas many purebreds have been manipulated by breeders to have unnatural and unhealthy shapes.
    • Squashed faces that snort and snuffle and can't breathe when they run around in the heat
    • Protruding eyes vulnerable to being scratched
    • Short crooked legs prone to joint diseases
    • Loose folds of wrinkled skin prone to bacterial infections
    • Long backs with weak vertebrae
    • Long narrow ear canals prone to ear infections
    • Tiny mouths without enough room for healthy teeth
    • Massive bodies that break down in less than 10 years

    Shame on breeders for deliberately inflicting these deformities (and their associated health problems) on purebred dogs. Thankfully, most mixed breeds don't look like that.

  2. Second, geneticists tell us that greater genetic diversity (a greater variety of genes) is one of the best predictors of good health. On the other hand, less genetic diversity over time leads to poor health.

    Mixed breed dogs typically have FAR more genetic diversity than purebred dogs.

    Why? Because in purebreds, the goal is to make all of the individuals within the breed look (or act) as much alike as possible. To accomplish that, breeders don't want varied  genes. They want a small limited set of genes so all of the members of that breed share the same small set of traits.

    For example, Bichons are small, white, fluffy, and don't shed much. Why? Because every pup inherits the genes for being small, white, fluffy, and light-shedding. Those are the only genes there are in Bichons. There aren't any Bichon genes for being big or black or smooth-coated.

    In purebreds, that limited set of genes keep getting recycled with each generation. This is called inbreeding or linebreeding and geneticists say it leads to physical and mental defects, a weaker immune system, greater susceptibility to illness, and a greater likelihood of hereditary health problems spreading rapidly through the breed.

    Sadly, that's exactly what is happening in many purebred dogs.

mixed breed dog

So if your mixed breed dog has a pretty normal dog shape and good genetic diversity....

....he has a lot going for him!

That's the good news.

But there is some bad news, too.

In purebred dogs, responsible breeders perform specific health screening tests (x-rays, ultrasounds, blood tests, DNA tests) before breeding two dogs together.

These screening tests can detect a number of hereditary health problems. If those problems were found, those two dogs would not be bred together.

Unfortunately, people who breed crossbred dogs seldom do any health screening tests.

And people who breed mixed breed dogs never do those tests. That means your mixed breed, even with his normal shape and diverse genes, could have inherited a genetic health problem from his unscreened mother or unscreened father.

Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if your dog inherits from his parents the genes for an eye disease called PRA, he will go blind and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Dog feeding and health book by Michele Welton But most health problems can be prevented by the ways you raise your dog.

FREE eBOOK! My free online health care program, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to raise your mixed breed dog in all the right ways that help prevent health problems. Become your dog's health care champion!

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy is for puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know. Click here to read for free.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say. Click here to read for free.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life. Get my honest advice about all 11 Things before you bring home your new puppy, because some mistakes with early health care cannot be undone. Click here to read for free.