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Hi guys, me and my girlfriend plan on getting a dog when we feel we're ready (she has owned dogs before, but I haven't) so I've been reading up on dog breeds, responsible breeding and dogs in general a lot lately.
I found many sources make contradictory statements concerning purebred / crossbreed health. I'd say a cross bred dog's health would (on average) be roughly the same as its parents and, if breeds are matched to take away some extreme characteristics they might even improve. However there are so many sources claiming either extreme: some say it'll always be a better idea NOT to go for a purebred (inbred) dog, others say it's irresponsible to crossbreed and even get mad just by the thought of it.

Is there anyone who can clarify things for me here? And, if possible, could you link any reliable sources that don't have any financial interest in the matter?
It's almost as if there's an online war going on between breeders that want to secure their own business.

Dog breeds we're most interested in currently are french bulldogs, boston terriers and pugs but since we don't want our dog to be constantly restricted by its health we're going through the options to find a healthier dog with similar characteristics. Many sources claim cross breeding aforementioned breeds can do just that (like the pug x cavalier, which supposedly was crossed to create a pug with less breathing problems but others say it's a walking health hazard).

Thanks a lot if you can help us clear things up!
 

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A large pecentage of cavs have a skull malformation that can lead to a devastating disease called syringomyelia. In fact, it's the "cute" head shape that was bred for that causes the disease.

Smushy faced dogs like frenchies have issues with breathing and generally have problems with heat. That's just something you'll have to accept if you like that look.

Any dog can have health issues, but certain bred for exaggerated features, like short muzzles, carry with them health issues or a much higher risk of health issues. Mutts are unlikely to have those sorts of issues because mutts aren't going to have exaggerated features caused by line breeding. Mutts are still at risk for things not caused by exaggerated features, like allergies or epilepsy.

If you really must have a short muzzled dog, find an ethical breeder with proven healthy dogs, or adopt an adult in rescue. A dog over the age of 2 will have whatever health problems it's going to have, so you aren't likely to get surprised. Poorly bred puppies can look healthy at 8 weeks, but you may be in for a surprise as they grow up. We can help with that. If you don't really care that much about a certain look, then I'd invite you to welcome one of the many mutts in need of a home into yours.
 

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I have a crossbred dog- but he was bred from lines of working dogs, working dog to working dog- so he is.... a good working dog, and healthy (cause one that isnt, cant work)..... so yeah in our case its a healthy cross breed (great pyrenees- anatolian)- but if you are talking about crossing breeds bred for looks, with health issues, I would say all bets are off....
 

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Basically crossbred dogs can end up with all the genetic issues of both parent breeds, in a worst worst case scenario. And if the purebred parent(s) are inbred, the pup is still pretty inbred, just a generation removed from it. Now, if you take two well-bred different purebred dogs and sensibly cross them, this can introduce some healthy genetic diversity. But crossing any two different purebreds isn't going to necessarily get you a healthier dog than a purebred would be.

Basically, crossbreeding is no excuse to slack on health testing before breeding, nor to fail to take the parents' pedigrees into account.

Now, a truly Heinz 47 dog is often healthier, because surviving as street dogs and/or less cosseted dogs for multiple generations can weed out some debilitating problems from the gene pool, and because there's more generations of diversity there. But that's not the same thing as just crossing two purebreds.
 

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In theory, cross breeding reduces the chance that the offspring will receive defective, recessive genes from both parents. Thus the offspring should be less prone to genetic diseases than either parent. It doesn't always work this way, particularly when both parents come from breeds with the same genetic defects. For example, if you go to offa.org and look up hip dysplasia statistics, you'll find that the labradoodle scores worse than either the Labrador or the poodle. This doesn't prove anything: It's possible that the dogs and bitches used in crossbreeding are less likely to be selected for health than those used in pedigree breeding. It's also possible that Xrays are routine for breeding Labs and poodles, while labradoodles mostly get X-rayed when they are manifesting clinical symptoms. However, if cross breeding were the panacea that some people claim it is, you wouldn't expect labradoodles to score worse than their two parent breeds.

You're talking mostly about brachy breeds. Cross breeding brachy breed dogs brings in the same set of defective/dwarfing genes from both sides, so it is not likely to lead to improvement. Of the breeds you list, I'd say it's easiest to find a healthy Boston. You see quite a few of them running and playing in the dog park in summer here in Florida, even when it's stinking hot and humid. You almost never see pugs of Frenchies out in the heat. Also, you see quite a few Bostons with a decent amount of muzzle. Not so many that free whelp, but that's not a big concern if you want a pet. I'd say, look for a Boston breeder who health tests and can give you evidence of good health in their lines. Eye problems are of particular concern. If you really want a cross, I'd look for outcross to beagle or some other non-brachy breed. . . . and look for evidence that the breeder understands health issues and breeds selectively to minimize them.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the sensible replies guys! They're really helpful.
We weren't necessarily looking for brachy crossbreeds exclusively because we indeed want our dog to be able to breathe normally.
Although we do like the smushy face look, we value quality of life over his/her looks.

For now I know enough to continue my search for our best match but I'm sure I will come up with many more questions before we decide.
It's good to know we have a place to bring our questions now :).

Thanks again!
 
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