What Is the Real Difference Between a Mixed Breed Dog and a Mutt?

Photo Credit: Pexels, Josh Sorenson

National Mutt Day is a biannual celebration, falling on July 31 and December 2, meant to give the spotlight to shelter dogs – and to mutts in particular.

Or should we call them mixed breeds?

Photo Credit: Pexels, Johann

Colleen Paige, a “Celebrity Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert and Animal Welfare Advocate,” is the founder of National Mutt Day, which she created to bring awareness to shelter dogs around the nation. The site mentioned a staggering statistic:

“Approximately 80% of dogs in shelters are mixed breeds. Most pure breeds that end up in the shelter are generally rescued quickly by either the public wanting a “less expensive” pure bred dog or by a pure breed rescue. The day’s mission is to educate the public about the sea of mixed breed dogs that desperately await new homes and to celebrate the amazing characteristics that the mix of breeds creates in each individual dog.

So are mutts and mixed breeds the same?

In short, the answer is yes, no matter that mutt is often used pejoratively.

Mixed breeds can be looked at two ways. One: Your run-of-the-mill mutt from a shelter. Two: Designer or hybrid mixed breeds.

Being a mutts/mixed breed simply means that dogs are made up of two or more breeds within their bloodlines. The American Kennel Club (AKC), known for registering and ‘showing’ top of the line doggos, does not register mutts. This means there is no official certificate for the mixed fidos of the world, especially because their parents are often unknown. One of the qualifications for an AKC purebred is that both mom and dad had to have been registered with the AKC before their litter can. That is a huge qualification! Not to mention the requirement for DNA testing.

In fact, the primary implication of the word “mutt” is that the parentage is unknown.

This leads me to designer dogs. You know, the Labrodoodlles and Puggles of the world. They are mixed breeds (or mutts) that have become popular over the years, but they have bloodlines that are tracked, so that they can be called a fancy mixed breed name and sold at a premium.

High end? Maybe. But still mixed.

Implication aside, both terms just mean that the dog is not purebred.

Why should you care?

Knowing the difference really isn’t about the terms mixed breeds or mutts. It’s about whether you should buy a purebred or adopt a pup from the shelter.

There are many benefits to adopting, such as:

  1. Mixed breeds are less susceptible to genetic medical issues. Purebreds, because their bloodlines are so, um, pure, are much more likely to have issues as they age. So if you’re looking for a longer-term companion, a mutt could be your answer!
  2. Mixed breeds are cheaper to own. That’s right! Mutts are thousands of dollars cheaper than purebred pups.
  3. You are saving a life. The ASCPA estimates that 3.3 million shelter dogs appear annually and 670,000 of them are euthanized. Some food for thought the next time you’re looking to own a pet.
  4. Mutts are the perfect working breeds! Many of these dogs have been put to work as therapy and guide pups. They also appear to have exceptional sniffers, as they can locate bombs and drugs.

At the end of the day, choosing a dog is a personal experience. Only you can determine which route is best— buying a purebred or mixed breed. But know that mutt and mixed breed means the same thing, and those dogs are in dire need of a forever home.