Friday, May 23, 2014

Purebreed vs Mongrel

I was posed this really interesting and thought-provoking question by the human from We Live In A Flat via Instagram.

Thing is, after thinking it through, I don't really think there's a difference, unless it's physical. And there are so many variables!!

Thing is, Mango is not exactly a typical Sheltie. That was what I told her. Or at least from what I can tell from this year and half of having Mango around and comparing him to other Shelties I've met. Okay let's check it against a checklist!

1)     Lively: not really, intelligent: I've seen him make some really stupid decisions, playful: not quite, trainable: yes, and willing to please and obey: most of the time?2)     Athletic: Not at all.
3)     Loving: yes, loyal: yes, and affectionate with their family: yes-ish, but are naturally aloof with strangers: yes.
4)     Do well with children if they are reared with them from an early age: Seems like he likes children quite a bit.
5)     Vocal dogs: YES only at home, not a sound when we're out of the house, and are very alert to outside stimuli: YES. The average Sheltie is an excellent watch dog: YES.
6)     The herding instinct is strong in many Shelties: NO.
7)     They love to chase and herd things, including squirrels, ducks, children, and if an owner is not watchful, cars: No.
8)     Shelties love to run in wide-open areas: NO, he stuck to me like super glue when we were at The Green Corridor (off leash) and any instances when he is off-leash.
9)     Some Shelties get so excited or anxious that they perform a fast series of tight spins without chasing their tails: No, but maybe jump around.

So as you can see, Mango doesn't tick “YES” for everything. Thing with Mango is that I got him when he was slightly past 2years? And he came from a petshop. So I don't have access to his birth history and have no idea how he spent his formative years (though I have a pretty good clue).

You have to factor these in when you want to compare a “Sheltie” with any other breed. Are you comparing a breed standard Sheltie, or just My Sheltie? And what about your Mongrel? What kind of mongrel? Any recognisable breed in the mix? Where was the dog from? What were the parents like? Are we talking about mongrels in general or are we talking about Donna, whom I've interacted with before she was adopted?

I personally think there isn't much difference unless it's physical.

Although, some breeds are built to do something which I don't think will change much even if store-bought or not. Like hunting dogs. Or guard dogs. Everything outside of that particular characteristic that makes that breed, that breed, are the same. I mean, you go looking for a puppy who will go well with your family, is happy, not nervous, friendly with other dogs and all those positive traits, right? Nobody goes looking for a nervous wreck/shy/aggressive/crazy puppy, right?

  • Genetics
I've seen purebred dogs from proper breeders with the sweetest temperament and the same breed dog which is like a dog from hell with the worst temperament that was store-bought. But I'm not saying that all breeder's dogs will have good genetics (only if they are responsible enough to do thorough checks and breed selectively) and not all store bought puppies are crazy (if you're lucky/unlucky enough because you'll never meet its parents so you'll never know what to expect. But the chances of you getting a “lemon” from a store-bought puppy is pretty high because…look at the stats for unethical breeding. In-breeding is rampant in puppymills and all those recessive traits. *shudder* Also, how do you think your puppy will be like if the mother is scared throughout her entire pregnancy? But I've also seen dogs like Echo who was store-bought turn out to be wonderful dogs. So it's like a gamble when you get a puppy without knowing it's parents.

For mongels, I've actually seen puppies from different litters in the same environment. This allows for a fair-enough comparison? Mother A was rescued from the streets, highly wary of humans, quite aggressive in the beginning. Her puppies born in the shelter have shy/nervous qualities, are highly wary of people, and are not so open to making new friends /exploring, sometimes even slightly aggressive. Mother B was also rescued, but is very friendly, very happy to see people, loves anything and everything. Her puppies were also born in the shelter and are well-adjusted, very happy/playful/curious/friendly dogs. Both were born in the same place, same upbringing, but why are they so different?

  • Upbringing
The other point is upbringing. Even if you have the perfect puppy with the perfect temperament, no matter the breed, if you don't start right, genetics can't help you, man. If you don't teach it, don't socialise it, don’t correct bad behaviour, should you still expect your dog to know what it should know/do just because it came from good genes? Good genes can only ensure you so much. Like I can guarantee you that this puppy will be like the mother, the most gentle, sweetest dog, ONLY IF you train it well after you bring it home.

But if you're lucky enough to get a problem child, there is always training to help solve issues. Though it will be a long and hard road to solving some issues. 

Take Buddha from “CutieandtheBeast”. Buddha is really really good with Sienna. And he's a Doberman. The typical stereotype would be that Dobermans are aggressive! But no, look at Buddha. He was from a reputable breeder and picked for his temperament, and trained by the owner to be the amazing dog he now is. This is why you need to buy responsibly. And not support disgusting puppymills with puppies of dubious backgrounds.

And so to conclude my long grandmother story, I'd say that there is not much differences in temperament or breed characteristics between Sheltie and Mongrel. It all boils down to genetics and upbringing.

P.s: I think this has got to be my longest entry in a long while! Haven't typed so much in forever! But I've ever thought about this before so… I've got plenty to say here. Hahahaha.

Ok bye.


  1. Hah! That was random chit chat!

    Anyway, I asked because I thought it sounded like one dog was much the same to another regardless of breed in that chat.

    I don't have other exposure to mongrels and was wondering if as a group there are some definable characteristics. e.g. are they more prone to thunder phobia than e.g. gun dogs that are bred to live with loud gun noises. Then again I don't know you in real life so I don't know how much exposure you have as well. So it really was just random chit chat but glad it was thought provoking to you :P

    At the same time I was wondering if pure bred dogs in Singapore are less definable anymore because less thought has been given to their breeding, especially if they are pet shop dogs, more towards looks than temperament attributes. The scariest thing for me is that for those westies, have somehow become more definable by their health problems than their other dog attributes... at least that was superficially what I took away with me after coming across a few of them.

    idle thoughts... idle thoughts...

    1. Hahaha I thought it was an interesting question! I asked myself that when I was looking to get a dog too but after thinking it through (since I was going to adopt and most likely not going to get dog's full history), I came up with this conclusion. The only thing I can change right now is to train him my way without knowing his lineage or upbringing.

      Not very sure about definable characteristics though. Maybe some breeds can take loud noises better like your example? and that last paragraph.. Yeah. I guess so? Here people tend to go for looks over characteristics when buying.

      Idle thoughts indeed. hahahaha. =D

  2. I thought there might be some definable characteristics because somebody from SOSD told me dog like Donna tend to shut down and shiver when threatened and overwhelmed. But he also say local mongrels need a lot more years to stabilise.

    And then they say that gun/hunting dogs are bred to not be fearful of loud sounds, retrievers are bred to like water because they need to retrieve both over land and water, etc etc. And of course lap dogs are bred to be more attention seeking and cuddly. ;)

    Of course, there will always be exceptions to the rule.

    1. I guess it's true only when you breed them for a purpose? Dogs these days are bred for looks w/o thought of purpose mostly, so I guess their main characteristics get lost in transit? But then again most Golden Retrievers love water and Maltese love sitting on your lap.

      Although the point about Donna tending to shut down and shiver.. I don't think all mongrels are like that. Or if mongrels of her color are like that. The stabilising bit.... Ehhh. not very true? There are some really stable mongrels right from puppy stage. Maybe only applicable to dogs that are adopted at an older age?

  3. Just to clarify, when he said stable, he meant as a group they will take a lot more years to stabilise to develope any definable characteristics... not stabilize as in individually.