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.

What is a Dog's Pedigree?

Pedigree 1937Pedigree 1937

The pedigree is a pure breed dog's family tree whose boughs form its genealogy[1]. It is this family tree which possesses specialised likenesses and traits. Pedigrees of most countries typically record parentage for 5 generations. Each dog on the pedigree has its number recorded in an official registry or Stud Book produced by that country's Kennel Club. These Kennel Clubs are also responsible for maintaining Breed Standards.

ANKC PedigreeANKC Pedigree

Today, computer systems have replaced most of the paper systems like the Australian Pedigree on the left. It is important to observe the logo or symbol adopted by an organisation to officially identify itself. In this case the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) logo which is on the top right hand corner, authenticates that this pedigree is a record of that dog's parentage on the Australian Kennel Club registration system. Although these pedigree forms vary from country to country, they are recognised between various countries.

Crossed breed dogs


Crossed breed dogs are crosses between 2 pure breed dogs. Historically, some crosses are deliberate, with formalised breeding programmes run by recognised Kennel Clubs or controlling bodies. Some of those not run by Kennel Clubs result in having a name derived from the two breeds which have been deliberately mixed, for example Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever and Standard Poodle cross). When there is no participation in inherited disease screening programmes, these combinations can produce disastrous results. It must be understood that the mixing of two different pure breeds produces not only the virtues but also the problems that are transmitted from both parents!

Mixed Breed DogMixed Breed Dog

Responsible breeders with pure breed dogs do not usually or knowingly allow a misalliance. It is only when and if they do, these dogs can correctly be called 'crossed breeds'. Otherwise, they are 'mixed breed' dogs as described below.

Mixed Breed Dogs

Mixed Breed DogMixed Breed Dog

The ancestry of a "mixed-breed" dog is not known at all. A mixed-breed dog may also be called 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 have been recognized from the earliest classifications. For example 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, Dr. Johannes Caius wrote about mixed breed dogs within a document that classifies the functions of many of 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 recognisable 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] 'Tyzack's Annual' Compiled by T. W.Tyzack and C.S.Turner; Published 1912 by Bellamine Bros. Printers, 66-70 Flinders Lane Melbourne. 'The Book of Chronicles' Page 128-129 

[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".