What are Pure Breed Dogs?

Miniature SchnauzerMiniature Schnauzer

Pure breed or pedigreed dogs firstly must have a formal pedigree issued by a Kennel Club and secondly must have their breed's physical description and function classified within their Breed Standard. These two factors make pure breed dogs predictable in both looks and temperament. For the purposes of this website, we are confining breed descriptions contained in our unique pages to those formally recognized by the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) which is reciprocally recognized by different country's Kennel Clubs throughout the world.

Pedigree 1937Pedigree 1937

Australian KelpieAustralian Kelpie

The pedigree is the dog's family tree whose boughs form its genealogy[1]. It is this family tree which possesses specialized likenesses and traits. Pedigrees of most countries typically record parentage for 5 generations. Each dog is given a number which is recorded by a registration system. Stud Books produced by Kennel Clubs are the the pure breed dog registries for that country and are usually recognized by that country's governments. These Kennel Clubs are also responsible for maintaining Breed Standards.  Although computer systems have now replaced most of the paper worked systems, Kennel Club registration records and Breed Standards still carry reciprocal recognition internationally.

Historically, the choice of two dogs whose combination produced a litter of pure breed puppies was to perform a specific function to assist mankind. This function could be choosing a dog and bitch that were excellent sheepdogs, great guard dogs, or simply wonderful 'lap' dogs or pets. In palaces and amid society circles, dogs with excellent temperaments plus good looks were selected for generations to become today's Companion Dogs. So it is the recording dogs' pedigrees in the Stud Book of one of these recognized Kennel Clubs, makes the dog a pure breed.

Crossed breed dogs

'Labradoodle''Labradoodle'

A cross breed dog has been bred usually without formalized breeding programmes run by recognized Kennel Clubs or controlling bodies. Some combinations result in having a name derived from the two breeds which have been deliberately mixed, for example Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever and Standard Poodle cross).  These combinations often produce disastrous results because the mixing of different combinations of breeds has not stood the test of time of the pure breeds.

Responsible breeders with valuable pure breed dogs do not knowingly allow a misalliance. But sometimes poorer quality purebred dogs that irresponsible breeders own are allowed to mate with another breed and given a fancy catchy name which is  derived from a combination of the two pure breeds from which they are supposedly crossed. But in reality they are crossed breeds.

Crossed Breed DogCrossed Breed Dog

Although misalliances sometimes occur, the deliberate mating together of two pure breeds to produce crossed breeds is usually purely a money making exercise. There is usually no participation in expensive inherited disease screening programmes. So, these crossed breeds are twice as likely to produce puppies that suffer from any inherited diseases the pure breeds parents may carry, developing the 'inherited' disease from both parents! The greatest pity of it all is that these 'inherited' diseases from the crossed breeds usually go unrecorded because there is no formal registration system by which to formalize this recording process.

Mixed Breed Dogs

Mixed Breed DogMixed Breed Dog

The ancestry of a "mixed-breed" dog is usually not known at all. A mixed-breed dog may also be known as a mutt, mongrel, cur, slut, bitzer (from "bit o' this, bits o' that") or random-bred dog. The problem with mixed-breed dogs is that their temperament and instinctive traits are generally unpredictable. The result of not knowing the parentage of a dog is that they might behave in unexpected ways, such as digging or chasing.

Mixed Breed DogMixed Breed Dog

But mixed breed dogs are interesting also, and recognized from the earliest classifications. From the earliest civilizations, mixed breed dogs formed the basis for today's pure breeds. But in 1570, an early classification simply called them 'watch dogs', a term applicable today.

Mixed Breed Dogs 1570

Mixed Breed DogMixed Breed Dog

In 1570, when Dr. Johannes Caius wrote about mixed breed dogs within a document that classifies the functions of many of the the pure breed dogs we know today. This classification that was written in Latin and translated into English by A Fleming in 1576[1]. The original translation of this important work is in my opinion too difficult to read to be printed in its original form. So it appears here as my interpretation in modern English:

Caius Mixed BreedCaius Mixed Breed

Containing curs of the mongrel and rascal sort and watch dogs

Such dogs are not of any specific breed. They are made up of sundry sorts of dogs that do not look like any particular breed. Because they do not have a recognizable shape or serve any worthy purpose; it is not necessary to write any more about them. But they are not beyond this classification as being of no use except to bark to warn their owners that some stranger is approaching. Whereupon we call them warning dogs or watch dogs because they perform this use.

References and Further Reading

[1] See 'Beyond the Tyrrany of Distance'

[2] Dr John Caius, "Of Englishe Dogges: The Diuersities, the Names, the Natures, and the Properties", London, 1576, translated into English by Abraham Fleming, Page 36. The work was originally published in Latin in 1570 as "Johannes Caius, De Canibus Britannicis".


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