National Mutt Census examines health trends, parasite control and compliance

National Mutt Census examines health trends, parasite control and compliance

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Jun 01, 2011

NATIONAL REPORT — Only 30 percent of mixed-breed dogs are on monthly flea-and-tick medications, according to a new survey from Mars Veterinary.

Despite the finding, 90 percent of mixed-breed owners say they see a veterinarian once or twice a year, and 77 percent of owners say they "always" comply with their veterinarian's recommendations.

The data from the 2010 National Mutt Census was gathered to examine trends in ownership and health status of mixed-breed dogs. The data was analyzed from more than 36,000 samples and more than 16,000 responses from an online survey of mixed-breed dog owners.

Since mixed-breeds account for more than half, 53 percent, of companion canines in the United States, Dr. Angela Hughes, a veterinary genetics research manager for Mars Veterinary, says the findings could help veterinarians better understand the health problems from this significant population of dogs.

"The Mars Veterinary National Mutt Census provides a vivid snapshot of the past and present trends in mixed-breed dogs," Hughes says. "Thanks to the census, we know what breeds are widespread, as well as how people are caring for their dogs and what health concerns they may have."

Until now, the genetic make-up of those breeds has been a mystery.

German Shepherds, the second most-popular breed registered with the American Kennel Club, is also the most common breed found in the genetic makeup of the mutt population in the United States.

The other most common breeds associated with mutts, in order, are Labrador Retrievers, Chow-Chows, Boxers, Rottweilers, Poodles, American Staffordshire Terriers, Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels and Siberian Huskies.

Some of the top mutts reflect past trends in breed popularity, the report states. "If a breed was trendy in the past, but has fallen from popularity, it may still represent a large portion of the mixed-breed population," the report states. "For example, the Chow-Chow breed—popular in the 1980s—is commonly found as the grandparent or great-grandparent level in tested mixed-breed dogs. In contrast, American Staffordshire Terriers are reportedly growing in popularity against a trend of declining breed registrations overall."