Dog lovers rejoice — it’s National Mutt Day! Created in 2005 by animal rights advocate Colleen Paige, the twice-a-year holiday (celebrated July 31 and December 2) is meant to celebrate the mixed-breed dogs in our lives.
Pet adoption saw a sharp rise in the early stages of the pandemic as sheltered dogs and cats found forever homes. It was a perfect time for many to take the leap, especially those who live alone; what better time to bond, acclimate, and potty train than when stuck at home and separated from commutes, friends, and family? Dogs in particular were so high in demand that shelters ran a shortage, turning away would-be dog owners in the temporary lull.
Well, the shortage is over, plenty of shelter dogs need homes again, and there’s no better way to celebrate National Mutt Day than to bring home your own.
Why a mutt? Mixed-breed dogs are generally healthier and live longer lives than so-called “purebred” dogs. According to the Institute of Canine Biology, purebred dogs have significantly greater risk of genetic disorders and other health problems as result of repeated inbreeding to make a dog fit arbitrary aesthetic standards.
My favourite summary of the mutt-versus-purebred conversation is courtesy of Adam Ruins Everything, a myth-busting show that evolved from College Humour to its current home on TruTV. The host Adam Conover explains the longstanding myth that caused disdain for mutts in favour of the breeds we love:
Not only are so-called ‘purebred’ dogs riddled with genetic disease, but dog breeds aren’t even a real thing. We made them up. We talk about dog breeds as though nature created them that way, and as though every mutt were a mix of different pure breeds… but in fact, mutts are dogs in their natural healthy states, and purebreeding is a form of genetic manipulation humans made up just to amuse ourselves.
As many of us evolved our understanding of purebreds, our appreciation for mutts changed. What were considered mangy, unlovable pups have become de-stigmatised and embraced.
There’s a lot to consider before adopting a pet, but if you’re ready to apply to become a proud mutt owner you can start by applying at your local shelter, or find one near you with a locator like the one provided by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
Not ready for the big leap? Consider being a short-term foster for a dog or volunteering at a local shelter. If you already have a mutt of your own, give them extra love today. You already know it to be true: Mutts are great pets.