Mixed breed dog

Dream dogs can take many forms, such as regal sighthounds, playful spaniels, watchful guardian breeds and companionable retrievers.

And, sometimes, they can be a unique blend of many breeds.

Affectionately called a mutt, a mongrel, a Heinz 57 or an all-American, a dog of mixed or unknown heritage is in no way a lesser breed. He can be just as smart, friendly, loving and trainable as any purebred — and he comes with the added advantage of a unique appearance.

“For people, just like for dogs, attention is rewarding,” says Dr. Stanley Coren, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and the author of Do Dogs Dream? Nearly Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know. “If you have a dog who causes people to stop and look, that’s rewarding.”

Thinking about adopting? We've compiled 10 good reasons why you should consider taking in a mixed breed:

1. They Come in All Shapes and Sizes

You can find a mutt who is small, medium or large; a dog with a short, long, curly or wiry coat; a pup with prick or floppy ears; and a mixed-breed dog with a short nose or a long snout. Whatever you're looking for in a dog, a mixed breed can meet your needs in a one-of-a-kind package.

2. Mutts Are Multifaceted

Whether you're looking for a dog who's friendly to everybody, one who will enjoy relaxing with you on the couch, or a pup who will eagerly accompany you on a run, there's a mixed breed who's just right for you and your family.

3. They Are Easy to Find

Your local shelter or rescue group has many wonderful mixes of all kinds ready for adoption.

4. These Pups Inspire Creativity

Don’t say that you have a mutt. Instead, come up with your own distinctive description for your dog: a Malibu chi-wienie, a wirehaired Golden Gate griffon or a North American calico shepherd.

5. Mutts Are Affordable

Depending on where you live, the adoption fees at shelters usually range from $150 to $300. If that includes spay/neuter surgery, microchip implantation, vaccinations and the license fee, it’s a great deal.

6. Mutts May Live Longer

Studies conducted in Denmark and North America showed that mixed-breed dogs tended to have lengthier average life spans compared to purebreds.

7. They Can Participate in Many Sports Geared Toward Purebreds

If your all-American dog is an athlete, he can compete and earn titles in agility, dock diving, flyball, canine disc, freestyle (dancing with dogs), lure coursing, obedience, rally and more.

8. These Dogs Have Cool Roots

In appearance, many mutts bear features of the earliest domesticated dogs. So if your mixed breed sports a short, yellow-to-light-brown coat; has prick ears and is of medium height and weight, he likely resembles the ancestors of the modern dog.

9. They Bring Out Your Charitable Side

Mutts represent about 75 percent of the shelter population, so adopting one of these dogs allows you to support your local shelter by reducing the population of pups who need homes.

10. Mutts Unleash Pure Love

These dogs can love you wholeheartedly — and you'll both benefit from saving a mutt's life.