Cross-Breeding Dogs: Is It Safe?

Pros & Cons

A Pomeranian Husky mix dog laying down on a couch.
Pomsky (Pomeranian x Husky)

The majority of this article is written by a certified veterinarian.

If you have ever thought of bringing a dog home, the biggest question is usually which dog breed to choose as your companion.

While there are hundreds of dogs you can choose from; generally, there are two types of dog breeds: Purebred and mixed breed dogs.

Pure breeds have their unique charm and personality, but mixed breeds are not less than their purebred counterparts. Mixed breed dogs are also called “designer dogs,” as two different breeds of dogs are often mixed on purpose for a desirable result. One such example is the Pineranian dog, the mix between a Miniature Pinscher and a Pomeranian.

What Does It Mean To Cross-Breed Dogs?

Cross breeding in dogs refers to the process in which two different breeds of dogs are bred together. For example: the Siberian Retriever is a mixed breed of the Labrador Retriever and the Siberian Husky.

Since both these parents have starkly different temperaments and personalities, you will find each Siberian Retriever puppy to be of different nature as well.

In theoretical terms, it is possible to mix any two breeds of dogs. The offspring of such cross breeding would be called a hybrid. True breeds are dogs that are only bred across their restricted gene pool.

A brown Labradoodle dog laying down in grass.
Labradoodle (Labrador x Poodle)

Crossbreed VS Mixed Breed

The key difference between a crossbreed and a mixed breed is the number of species/breeds included in the process of breeding.

Three or more types are involved in a mixed breed, while in crossbreeding of dogs only two dogs of different breeds are included in the process.

There is usually no human involvement in the mixed breeding of dogs. A dog produced from mixed breeding is not produced via supervised and intentional breeding, as this is not recorded breeding.

A mixed breed of dog does not belong to any specific breed and is known by many names like “mutt” or “mongrel.” Mixed breeds tend to be less prone to having genetic health conditions.

Since mixed breeding is uncontrolled, the dogs may end up having more variation in characteristics. Mixed breeding often leads to the dogs having characteristics to adapt to the surroundings so that they can survive better in their habitat. One example would be an “Alaskan Husky.”

Cross breeding is done intentionally to produce designer animals. It takes place between two organisms of the same species, but of different breeds. Only purebred dogs are involved in the cross breeding of dogs.

The primary purpose of cross breeding is to introduce desirable traits of the parent into the offspring. This is done to keep the health and viability of the breed intact. This, however, does lead to a reduction in the gene pool of the parent dog.

Mixed and crossbreeds do have some similarities: They both produce hybrid species, introduce some desirable characteristics into the offspring, and can occur under natural conditions.

Which Is Better: Purebred or Mixed Breed?

If you want to add a pup to your family, both mixed and pure breeds can be great choices. It depends on your lifestyle, home, family, and what characteristics you would like in your dog.

It is evident that both types of breeds have their pros and cons. 

You can weight out all the benefits, drawbacks, and attributes of both pure- and cross-bred dogs to make an informed decision, based on bringing home the best canine friend for you.

A white Cockapoo Standing up next to a blanket.
Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel x Poodle)

Are Mixed Breed Dogs Healthier?

Mixed breeds of dogs are most often healthier than their purebred counterparts, and even live longer.

This is mainly due to their genetic diversity, and is the main benefit of mixed-breed dogs.

Purebreds have a smaller gene pool, so the genetic diversity is limited. Pure breeds will take up any defective genes of the parents and, as such, can easily fall prey to unwanted characteristics.

Introducing a breed from the outside to produce a mixed breed reduces the chances of the offspring carrying the defective gene forward.

However, this doesn’t mean that pure breeds will always be less healthy than mixed breeds. Mixed breeds tend to reduce the risk of genetic health problems by having a variety of genes — some healthy and some unhealthy — in their bodies. This makes them less susceptible to major health conditions, but doesn’t grant complete immunity.

Cross Breeding Advantages

Dog cross breeds have several positive aspects. Let’s take a look at these benefits of cross breeding dogs.

• Exquisite Appearance Of The Crossbreed

Some pet owners want their pup to look different and unique compared to other dogs. A unique looking dog tends to have great value in the “pet market,” and will appeal most to those who want to adopt a dog that stands out from the rest.

One benefit of cross breeding is that you don’t know how the genetic material will match up and what result will be produced. You can’t predict the exact appearance of the offspring, thus, even two puppies of the same litter can possess unique, one-of-a-kind features.

• Lots Of Variety

Cross breeding helps to develop more variety among dogs, as opposed to a purebred dog with a predetermined set of traits.

• Balanced And Varied Characteristics

Cross breeding also leads to characteristics that are more suitable for the environment.

Since cross breeding offers a diverse gene pool, it leads to variable attributes in a dog that are usually more valuable, like one breed’s gentle temperament that gets along with other pets, combined with another breed’s suitability for cold temperatures.

• Cross Breeds Can Be Budget-Friendly

Most pure breeds are sold for thousands of dollars, while cross breeds are often much lighter on the pocket. You can get a crossbred dog at your local animal or rescue center.

Many even include a small fee for neutering, which further saves you money in the long run. Just make sure to get a DNA test to check on the type and breed of the dog you want to take home. This will ensure you are getting a healthy pet.

• Near Perfect Pets

Cross breeds tend to make better pets as they have the characteristics to adapt to varied surroundings.

Historically, many dogs have been bred to include attributes more desirable by pet owners.

For example, the Pomeranian was bred down from the German Spitz to a smaller size, so that it would make a more family-friendly pet.

Overall, you may get the best of two unique worlds.

Cross Breeding Disadvantages

Where there are pros, there will also be cons. Crossbreeding dogs can offer a significant set of positive traits, but it’s vital to look at both sides of the story.

• Unknown Temperament And Personality

With pure breeds of dogs, you know what you are buying into. The attributes, personality, and nature are all known and will be passed down predictably by a reliable breeder.

You know what to do, how to treat your dog, and if it will suit your personal lifestyle.

All of this is harder to determine in cross breed dogs. Their personality and nature can’t be fully known until you spend time with them.

This does not make them more difficult to deal with, but does open the door to the unknown.

• Size And Age Issues

It difficult to predict a crossbred dog’s age after adoption and the size they will grow into as adults.

Due to their unique genetic makeup, especially when compared to the predictability of a purebred, it’s possible that neither you nor the breeder will be able to chart out how large or small the dog will grow up to be.

They could quickly become too big for your liking, proving difficult to handle or even unsuitable for a small home or apartment.

Keep in mind that any crossbreed adopted from a rescue center or shelter might be a different age than the organization lists, due to no fault of the organization, but the uniqueness of the dog itself.

• High Cost Of Designer Dogs

While many cross breeds of dogs do sell at reasonable prices, certain designer breeds of dogs go for a very high price—even more than many pure breeds.

This is because such designer dogs have highly desirable characteristics & appearance.

They have been carefully bred to exhibit the right traits while still being unique and interesting, and, as such, they are in very high demand.


Do Mixed Breed Dogs Live Longer?

On average, mixed breeds live longer than pure and cross breeds.

Mixed breeds (3+ breeds) average around 14.45 years, and pure breeds live an average of 10 years.

Cross breeds (2 breeds) usually live up to 14.14 years, but this also depends on the cross breed’s genetic material & quality.

Can Cross Breed Dogs Reproduce?

Yes, cross breeds of dogs can reproduce.

Historically, humans have guided many cross breeds to mate with other breeds and produce offspring with desirable characteristics.

Of course, if a dog is neutered (such as a dog adopted from a shelter or rescue), then it cannot reproduce.

Is Cross Breeding Dogs Illegal?

No. Cross breeding is legal in most countries around the world. It might be illegal to cross breed some unique species in some parts of the world.

In the USA, cross breeding dogs is legal.

A grey Schnoodle Dog, a hybrid between Schnauzer and Poodle dog.
Schnoodle (Schnauzer x Poodle)