Mixed-breed or purebred dog? One is available at the shelter while the other can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. It seems like a no-brainer. But even more alarming is that when we purchase purebred dogs, we are oftentimes investing in a genetically inferior animal, as reported by Quartz.
"Purebreds have a higher risk for disease in many instances," said Dr. Thomas Famula, a professor of animal science at the University of California – Davis. That's because the selective breeding of purebreds keeps the same diseases within a group of dogs. Famula and his team found that purebreds are more likely to have disorders including cataracts, hypothyroidism and a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy.
Further, breeders select for aesthetic characteristics, rather than functional ones, making the lives of these dogs more difficult. For example, the bulldog of today has more folds around its eyes and is stockier, making it harder to see and move. Another example is the pug, which has been bred to have bulging eyes. A drawback is that its eyes can actually pop out of its head—a condition called proptosis. Also, with its squished-in face, pugs have a hard time breathing, another trait that has been bred into the dog.
But purebreds are bred as such according to the standards presented by the American Kennel Club, which sets the breed specifications for what is considered desirable. And that's part of the problem. It's time to change what characteristics are bred into dogs so that the limited gene pool these genetically inferior dogs are being sired from is no longer considered the ultimate standard. If a breed cannot be made healthy, it should not be bred in the first place.