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Paisley vets Kerry Molloy, from Love Street Vets, and Neil McIntosh, of Abbey Veterinary Group, share their views with you every Thursday. Today, Neil discusses the misconceptions among dogs.

When I was a boy, (I think I can remember) they called it hybrid vigour, the implication being that cross dogs or mongrels were healthier than their pedigree counterparts.

Even at veterinary school, they propagated this absolute falsehood.

The term is incorrect on two counts. Firstly, and fundamentally, a hybrid is a cross between two species, not two breeds of the same species. Thus a mule a horse crossed with a donkey, is a true hybrid, as is the liger, the offspring borne out of a lion-tiger mating. Interestingly, both are infertile.

Secondly, no matter how loudly you shout, mongrels are not necessarily healthier.

My own dog owning experience bears testament to this.

My first wee black and tan crossbreed had a malformed hip that required surgery to remove her femoral head.

She spent her entire happy life without a left hip joint.

Scud, the mongrel rescue dog, had regular epileptic seizures.

Additionally, her lower dentition was so abnormal that she needed a canine tooth to be removed so that she could properly close her mouth.

Of course, there are lots of other reasons for hybrid vigour being false.

Accidental matings are still common and clearly in such circumstances there is no attempt to 'marry' useful characteristics or negate bad ones.

The mongrels produced can be weird and wonderful, but may also have anatomical and medical abnormalities.

And, as you might expect, none of the dogs involved in such matings are likely to have had any health testing done.

They may not be perfect, but the schemes run jointly by the Kennel Club and the British Veterinary Association for hip and elbow testing are at least successful in weeding out the very bad.

Similarly, eye testing is useful to remove from the breeding population those individuals who possess inheritable defects.

And then there is the biggest myth of all. The myth that just by crossing breeds you end up with the best of both worlds. The myth that crossing dogs makes them inherently healthier.

The feeble evidence for this is based on erroneous comparisons between such crosses with the worst 'pure bred' dogs.

These are the dogs that are 'line bred'. In human terms we would call this incest. But these dogs are not representative of the majority of careful, considered, planned breeding, which is what mainly occurs in this country.

In short, you can't take an average pedigree, cross it with a different average pedigree and expect to reliably produce the perfect specimen.

Recent events prove my point.

This week, I had to remove teeth to correct the dentition of a goldendoodle. Its lower canines were so close together they risked penetrating the hard palate.

I regularly treat a cockapoo whose ears are so hairy they are permanently sore. I have X-rayed labradoodles with developmental bone disorders and Sprockers with dysplastic elbows.

Oh yes, designer pedigrees dare we just call them mongrels have their problems too.

It all sounds like a cross between a bulldog and a shih tzu to me.


Advice Neil McIntosh
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Publication:Paisley Daily Express (Paisley, Scotland)
Date:Jun 6, 2019
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