July 31st marks National Mutt Day! Whether you call them “Mutts”, “Heinz 57s”, or Mixed breeds, one thing’s for sure, mutts are adorable! Created by animal welfare advocate in 2005, National Mutt Day is celebrated on July 31st to raise awareness about the number of mutts in shelters. Mutts make up the greatest number of dogs in shelters – about 70% in fact!
Most purebreds that end up in shelters are adopted very quickly either by breed rescue groups, or by people looking for a less expensive purebred dog. But mixed breeds can make just as wonderful a pet as a purebred dog.
Designer dog breeds are breeds that are mixed on purpose to create puppies with the desired traits of two, such as Goldendoodles or Puggles. Sometimes you can have the best of both worlds with mixed-breed dogs. Just because a mutt wasn’t mixed ‘on purpose’ doesn’t mean that it won’t have wonderful traits and a lovable personality from its varied genetic background.
There are plenty of reasons to adopt a “mutt” over a purebred dog:
- Mixed breed dogs tend to live longer than purebreds and tend to be healthier with less “breed-specific diseases” and conditions. This is because mixed breeds result from a more diverse gene pool than purebreds.
- Mixed breeds are just as trainable as purebreds and make excellent family dogs.
- Mutts come in all shapes and sizes and will have unique features that will earn you compliments at the dog park.
- You can find a mixed breed to fit your lifestyle. You can find a friendly mutt, an exercise partner, or a “snuggler” – whatever your lifestyle, you are sure to find a mutt that will fit in.
- Mixed breeds tend not to have the same extremes in behavior that purebreds do.
- Adopting a mutt can be more affordable than the cost of purchasing a purebred dog. *Keep in mind that every dog still requires routine veterinary visits, obedience training, a nutritious diet, toys, bedding, and other supplies. And consider pet insurance for any pet that you bring into your home.
- The best reason for adopting a mutt – you get to provide a loving home for a dog that deserves to be part of family. Every dog that is adopted from a shelter is one less that is purchased from a puppy mill.
Some tips for finding the perfect mutt:
- Do your research before you adopt. All dogs need exercise, some more than others. Mixed breeds are no exception.
- Don’t impulse shop. While your heart strings may be pulled, take time to consider what you really want. This will prevent a mismatch and potential return to the shelter.
- Speak to the shelter employees about what kind of dog would fit best with your family. Let them know what sort of lifestyle you lead (read books by the fire, hike 5 miles a day, or take a daily leisurely neighborhood walk). The employees will have gotten to know the dogs and will be able to help you choose one that will best fit into your family’s lifestyle.
- Some dogs in shelters have behavior problems which led their previous owner to give them up. Be prepared to commit significant time to training the dog and remember that any behavioral problems are NOT the fault of the dog. These behaviors are often natural dog behaviors that we find inappropriate or can be bad habits or fear-based issues from the previous owner who let the dog down by not training him/her properly.
Not ready to adopt?
There are still ways you can help support your local shelter, especially during this difficult time as shelters grapple with the repercussions of COVID-19. The lack of foot traffic, a decline in monetary donations, and supply donations suspended to prevent the spread of illness have impacted the operations of many shelters.
Consider making a donation – every donation counts no matter how small. Check your local shelter’s website to see if they need item donations—while they likely aren’t taking physical donations from the public, many have “wish lists” of items most needed. These items can be ordered from pet stores or on-line stores and items are shipped directly to the shelter. Electronic gift cards are another way to help shelters in need.
Spread the word on social media, or if you and your family are ready, make the ultimate commitment and adopt a mutt this July!