The census, launched by Mars Veterinary in March 2010, was created to reveal the “paw print” of America’s mixed-breed population, which accounts for 53 percent of all pet dogs in the United States.
Mars Veterinary collected DNA samples from more than 36,000 mixed-breed dogs. The samples then underwent genetic analysis to determine the breed history of each dog. This genetic data was combined with more than 16,000 responses to a web survey from mixed-breed owners. The survey asked questions about the dog’s size and weight, feeding and exercise habits, whether the dog was adopted from a shelter, along with questions about the dog’s health.
While both purebred and mixed-breed German Shepherds are popular, the breeds most commonly registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) are not necessarily the most common breeds found in mutts.
Here’s a list of the top 10 most popular breeds found in the nation’s mutts, along with each breed’s AKC registration ranking:
1. German Shepherd (No. 2 most popular AKC-registered breed)
2. Labrador Retriever (No. 1)
3. Chow Chow (No. 63)
4. Boxer (No. 6)
5. Rottweiler (No. 13)
6. Poodle (No. 9)
7. American Staffordshire Terrier (No. 70)
8. Golden Retriever (No. 4)
9. Cocker Spaniel (No. 23)
10. Siberian Husky (No. 22)
Some interesting findings from the survey:
- Shelters are the most frequently cited place (46 percent) where people obtain mixed-breed dogs, followed by a friend, neighbor or relative (18 percent).
- About 89 percent of mixed breed dogs are spayed or neutered.
- Breeds weighing more than 80 pounds represent less than 11 percent of all mixed-breed dogs.
- Dry food is the most popular feeding choice (65 percent), as opposed to a mix of wet and dry food (21 percent), wet food (5 percent) or raw food and scraps (9 percent).
- About 69 percent of respondents reported that they don’t use flea and tick control medicines regularly.
- About 48 percent share their bed with their dog.
“The Mars Veterinary National Mutt Census provides a vivid snapshot of past and present trends in mixed-breed dogs,” said Angela Hughes, DVM, the veterinary genetics research manager at Mars Veterinary, in a press release. “Thanks to the census, we know what breeds are wide-spread, as well as how people are caring for their dogs and what health concerns they may have. The hope is that the pet community will use this information to provide better care for the nation’s mixed breed dogs.”