The Healthiest Dog Breed In The World

Most dog owners, you'd probably agree, have at least a passing fondness for their pets, and would prefer not to watch them suffer. There are exceptions, and easy shots could be taken at Michael Vick, but sadly, it's not 2008 anymore, and after this much time, that's just shooting fish in a barrel. Like Michael Vick used to do. 

Now, mankind (the conglomerate, not the wrestler) has spent centuries selectively breeding dogs to be the fastest, the smartest, the largest, and the dumbest. But what about the healthiest? Have humans, in their eternal hubris, bothered to create a special breed of dog designed not to have such a short lifespan, or suffer astonishingly predictable genetic deformities which would otherwise cause it intense discomfort for its entire life? Or is it more interesting to see how inside-out you can breed an animal's face to be, before it collapses in on itself like a dying star?

The good news is that there is a "healthiest breed of dog." The bad news is that nobody's putting a lot of effort into breeding it.

Mutts up with that?

Lo, the humble mutt. A staple of lowered expectations.

Mutts get poo-pooed in the upper crust of canine appreciation groups, with calls to "keep the breed alive" exploding out of the mouths of dog breeders intent on seeing just how two dimensional they can make Greyhounds. It's true that mixed-breed dogs don't have the instantly recognizable physique of your beagles or your German shepherds, but they do have one thing: genetic diversity.

While purebred dogs frequently suffer from the inescapable side-effects of inbreeding, mutts have an entire gene pool at their disposal. A 2013 study, examined by the Institute of Canine Biology, found that the incidence of ten genetic disorders (42 percent) was significantly higher in purebreds, compared to only a four percent incidence rate of one disorder in mutts. According to Dr. Sarah Wooten of PetMD,"Generally speaking, I think mixed breed dogs tend to be healthier and tougher and tend to live longer than many of the purebreds I see in practice. Mutts, in my experience, tend to have lower incidences of inherited disease, such as some cancers, back problems and hip dysplasia."

 Of course, life is a crap shoot, and tomorrow is promised to no man's best friend. However, if you're looking to play the odds, check out your local animal shelter and find yourself a real weird-looking mutt. They're sort of the best.