They go by a dozen different names, and not all of them are complimentary. But whether you call them mutts, curb setters, or crossbreeds, there's one thing you can always count on about a mixed-breed dog: No two of them look alike! In fact, some owners say it makes them feel special to know no one else has a dog quite like theirs.
A mixed breed is just what it sounds like: a dog who doesn't come from a single purebred mother and father (of the same breed, that is). Sometimes mixed breeds are created by design, as with popular mixes like the Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel and Poodle); Peekapoo (Pekinese and Poodle); and various retriever, German Shepherd, and poodle/terrier mixes. Otherwise, mixed breeds are just the result of nature taking its course.
Picking a mixed-breed puppy is a more of a roll of the dice than a purebred when it comes to size and instincts. You pretty much know how big your Beagle puppy will get, that he'll want to follow his nose constantly, and that he'll bay instead of bark. If you know the breeds of the mutt puppy's parents, you'll have a good idea what to expect.
For instance, a Golden Retriever/German Shepherd mix will most likely be a good-size dog, with a potential weight range of 60 to 90 pounds and a fun-loving yet protective personality. Otherwise, you'll just have to be surprised. Some of the most special stories about dogs come from owners whose mixed-breed pups turned out to be something totally unexpected.
If you're not looking for a dog to show or work, or if you don't have your heart set on a particular breed, you can't go wrong with a mutt. Crossbreeds actually tend to have fewer of the health problems that may pop up in some of their purebred counterparts. What's more, the animal shelters are overflowing with mixed-breed dogs. Most purebreds can count on finding a home, but when you adopt a mixed-breed dog, you're giving him a new lease on life.
Now that you know the type of dog you want, it's time to determine where you will get it. In the next section, we will learn about buying a dog from a breeder.