It’s easy to get mixed-up when analyzing mixed dogs. People look at a large-size mixed breed dog and begin playing the ever-popular heritage naming game: “He’s a Lab-Husky mix. Or maybe a St. Bernard-German Shepherd mix. Or perhaps a—.”
The more you study some mixed breeds, the more potential combinations you can imagine. And unless you invent a time machine and travel back to examine the great-great-great-great grandparents, you may never really know.
Even the label “mixed breed” is up for scrutiny: After all, that big wonderful dog you love might be a “hybrid,” or a “non-pure breed,” or a “village dog.” What are the subtle—or not-so-subtle—differences between these classifications?
Village dog: A name sometimes used for the original mixed-breed dogs that roamed around the countryside and early villages. Eventually, the selective breeding of these dogs brought about the dogs that kennel clubs have come to classify as purebreds. The trend of developing these purebred dogs became popular in the 19th century.
Hybrid: When two purebred dogs of different breeds mate, the first-generation offspring are called “hybrids.” These hybrid dogs may have highly desirable characteristics, such as good health and high intelligence. However, crossing hybrids can lead to generations of dogs with unpredictable temperaments and health issues.
Mixed breed or non-pure bred: These are names that are given to dogs with parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents (etc.) that may have had a very random genetic mix.
So, is that big, beautiful mixed-breed dog you love really a Lab-Husky mix, or a St. Bernard-German Shepherd mix? If you don’t know for sure, you may never really know. But it’s fun to speculate.