What Is A “Super Mutt”?

by Hannah Roundy

Mixed breed dog running in a field of tall grasses

If you recently tested your dog’s DNA, the results may show that they are part “super mutt”. But what does it mean to be a super mutt?

Dog DNA tests have become quite popular over the past decade. Today, it’s more common to adopt mixed-breed dogs rather than paying for a rare purebred. Dog parents are naturally curious as to the true origin of their mixed-breed dogs. That’s when a dog DNA test can prove quite useful.

What is a “super mutt”? 

Dogs that inherit small bits of DNA from various different breeds are called “super mutts”. This refers to the fact that there are so many breeds in your pup’s DNA that it’s too hard to attribute to a specific breed. 

Super mutts are quite common. Consider all the mixed-breed dogs over the past 500 years. Over several generations, those dogs bred with other mixed-breed dogs to create the super mutt you may have in your home today. 

How do I know if my dog is a super mutt? 

By analyzing a sample of your dog’s saliva, brands like Embark can break down your mutt’s genetic breed makeup.  Simply swab the inside of your dog’s mouth for a few seconds and send it back to Embark for testing. After a few weeks, you’ll receive results with your dog’s unique breed history, geographic origin, and even a few potential relatives.

Parents of mixed-breed dogs use DNA tests like Embark’s to confirm their pup’s true breed identity. When your pup has too many small bits of DNA of other breeds, Embark classifies this as “super mutt”

Don’t be alarmed by a “super mutt” result in your dog’s DNA test. It simply means they have so much breed diversity in their genetic makeup that it’s difficult to trace. Your pup has its own strain of super mutt DNA, making them just as unique and special as you already know they are. 

Are mixed-breed dogs healthier than purebred dogs?

Historically, having mixed-breed dogs was less popular than having a purebred pup. The belief at the time was that purebreds are just that – purer and healthier than a mutt. But, science shows us that mixed-breed dogs can be just as healthy. 

Are mixed-breed dogs healthier than purebred dogs? The answer is dependent on the breed of the dog. For example, a study found that Labrador Retrievers, Pugs, and other pure breeds have a greater risk of developing mast cell tumors than mixed-breed dogs. 

But that same study also found that breeds like Dachshunds, Poodles, and Chihuahuas have a lower risk of developing tumors than mixed breeds. This means that purebreds aren’t necessarily healthier or sicker than mixed-breed dogs, they are just different. 

Purebred dogs are more prone to the illnesses that commonly affect their breed. Mixed-breed dogs do have a slight advantage since they have the DNA of multiple breeds. A wider gene pool may eliminate the risk of breed-related illness that a purebred can’t avoid. 

A purebred’s health is also dependent on breeding practices. When a breeder says their puppies are 100% purebred, it doesn’t guarantee good health. If their mom or dad had health issues, odds are the puppies have those same genes. 

No matter what breed, dogs of all kinds deserve to have a loving home. Even mixed-breed dogs can have their health issues. What’s most important is showing your mixed or purebred pup the love and care they deserve.

Why should I get my mixed-breed dogs’ DNA tested?

Testing your dog’s DNA is more of a luxury than a necessity, but it can prove to be useful. Embark partners with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine to do their breed research. A study from Cornell shows that testing can help minimize the risk of illness. 

Discovering the ins and outs of your dog’s breed makeup can help you learn more about their health and habits. Each dog breed has its individual health history, physical traits, and personality. Analyzing your pup’s breed breakdown gets you one step closer to knowing everything about them. 

Embark also offers a health test that analyzes your dog’s DNA for over 250 health conditions. This test can identify your dog’s risk for degenerative disease, drug sensitivities, neuromuscular health, and more. 

Digesting your dog’s results can prepare you for health issues your pup may develop later in life. Test results can also notify you of any food or drug allergies that can make a substantial difference in your dog’s life.

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