Ideally, any major life decision should occur with a lot of planning—and that includes bringing a dog into your home. You should be asking yourself some necessary questions about whether you have the space and time as well as the larger nickel-and-dime worries about a dog's impact on your budget. But there are fun aspects to this anticipation, too, especially when you start to consider which breeds best fit your lifestyle. A mixed-breed dog may just be the perfect fit.
"Mixed-breed dogs are often not as strong-willed as purebreds, and the traits that define a breed can be more subtle," Nicole Ellis, Rover's certified professional dog trainer and pet lifestyle expert, says. "Studies have also shown that mixed-breed dogs tend to have longer lifespans than purebreds: On average, mixed-breed dogs live 8.5 years and purebreds live 6.7 years. The findings show that mixed breeds have a much lower chance of congenital disorders because it's less likely both parents carry the defective gene. But there is still no absolute guarantee of better health."
Aside from these prospects, mixed-breed dogs encourage their parents to, in some ways, play detective. Not only are you considering which personality traits best suit your life, but you're also weighing how these traits will play out for your pet's socialization and training. "Crossing two purebred dogs of different breeds will never have completely predictable results, but we can take some educated guesses as to what these crosses will result in," Ellis says. "Everything from temperament to color and final size will be an exciting roll of the dice when you adopt a mixed-breed puppy."
We asked Ellis for some tips to keep in mind as you build a plan around the possibility of bringing a mixed-breed dog home. She also provided her recommendations for the best options, in case you'd like to give your search even more direction.
What are some things to keep in mind about mixed dog breeds?
Training and socialization will largely help determine how a dog's personality is formed. "Getting your new puppy into an exercise and training regimen as soon as possible will ensure that your dog gets the benefit of the best traits available, instead of the reputation of the worst," Ellis says. "Socializing to new sounds, sights, people, and pets is key to having a very confident but well-rounded pup."
Your mixed-breed dog may have other breeds you didn't plan for, but that's what makes them unique. "Often mixed breeds from shelters have a breed you can't physically see in your dog's appearance, but it may shine in their personality," she notes.
Shelters are great places to find mixed breeds. "Give the dog some time to warm up to you," Ellis continues. "Remember, shelters are a very different environment, and often dogs come across as scared or timid at first. They just need some time with you."
Research the breeds mixed in the dog you're interested in, if possible. "The dog may not have all of the traits of those breeds, but it's very likely that they'll have some," she says. "For example, if you're looking for a mellow pup, don't get one that is mixed with a high-drive energy dog, no matter what the other mix is."
If you are looking at a breeder, consider one that does OFA and genetic testing. A lot of mixed-breed breeders do this," she notes. "And while it won't rule out any medical issues, there will be a lower likelihood of some health conditions down the line."
What are some mixed dog breeds to consider?
Aussiedor: "This Australian shepherd and Labrador cross is a smart, beautiful, medium-size dog with more than enough energy to go all day long," she says.
Boxador: "This Boxer-and-Labrador combination makes for the perfect family companion," Ellis notes. "This dog is playful and friendly, with a short-haired coat and happy attitude."
Corgidor: "A Corgi and Labrador retriever mix is a loving, loyal family dog," she continues. "Keep in mind that the face shape, coat color, and coat length can vary greatly."
Golden Shepherd: "This golden retriever and German shepherd cross is a fuzzy family dog," she says. "They're more protective than a golden retriever and more easygoing than a shepherd, so this is a wonderful companion for older kids."
Labsky: "Labrador and Husky mixes are known as a Labsky or Huskador dogs. They are great family pets who may need frequent grooming but have piercing and irresistible eyes."
Shepsky: "These are Labrador and German shepherd mixes, which can also go by Siberian retriever," she notes. "Like a labsky, these are great family dogs."
Ratcha: "A Rat terrier and Chihuahua cross is an energetic and playful small dog," Ellis continues. "Both breeds are known for their loyalty, so this dog would be no different."
Shichi: "This shih tzu and Chihuahua cross is a small, playful dog with a longer coat," she says. "Though they're wary of strangers, they are devoted to their family, as well as an active and fun companion."
Shollie: "A German shepherd and border collie mix is suitable for any type of adventurous lifestyle," Ellis says. "Smart, active, and trainable, they benefit from having a daily job with lots of exercise."
Cavachon: "This is a cavalier poodle or cavalier bichon-poodle mix," she says. "I have one, and it's an amazing dog—they're intelligent, family-friendly, and adventurous. Mine also doesn't shed, which is a plus!"
Here's what to buy to make your new family member feel at home: