America’s Favorite Mutts: 10 Breeds Commonly Found in Mixed-Breed Dogs

A Chow Chow-Husky mixed-breed dog sticks out its tongue.A Chow Chow-Husky mixed-breed dog sticks out its tongue.
A Chow Chow-Husky mixed-breed dog sticks out its tongue.A Chow Chow-Husky mixed-breed dog sticks out its tongue.

Table of Contents:

  1. American Pit Bull Terrier
  2. German Shepherd
  3. Chow Chow
  4. Labrador Retriever
  5. Australian Cattle Dog
  6. Boxer
  7. American Staffordshire Terrier
  8. Chihuahua
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Siberian Husky

It’s easy to determine which purebred dogs are the favorites among American pet lovers. Every year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) assesses registration data to publish a ranked list of their almost 200 recognized breeds. In 2020, the Labrador Retriever was top dog once again with more obscure pups like the English Foxhound and Norwegian Lundehund at the tail end of the list.

America’s Ten Favorite Mixed-Breed Dogs

But what about mixed-breed dogs? With adoption numbers surging and the term “rescue dog” now firmly in the cultural lexicon, it’s likely that millions of pet owners can only guess at their dog’s breed, let alone its place on the AKC’s list.

A number of services have emerged to help mixed-breed dog owners get to the bottom of their pup’s lineage. Like human genealogy services, these companies test DNA samples to paint a picture of a family history. The most comprehensive reports identify a dog’s “dominant breed,” as well as any other breeds found in their genetic data. For pet owners, these reports may help better address breed-specific health concerns and provide a higher quality of care.

Embark, one of the most popular dog DNA testing services, took a page out of the AKC’s book earlier this year. Assessing genetic information from more than 200,000 dogs, they determined which breeds are most commonly identified in mixed-breed canines.

If you’re not sure what kind of dog you’ve got, taking a closer look at these ten breeds could be a good starting point for determining your pet’s genetic makeup and understanding their unique characteristics.

American Pit Bull Terrier

Though they’re often misunderstood, “Pitties” are popular throughout the nation and are the focus of many breed-specific rescue efforts. Along with these campaigns, Embark suggests that lenient spay and neuter laws, as well as large litters, have contributed to the immense number of mixed-breed dogs with American Pit Bull Terriers in their lineage. The breed is ubiquitous from coast to coast. They’re the #1 result for mixed-breed dogs in all but seven states and the #2 result in four of those outliers.

German Shepherd

It’s not surprising that one of the nation’s most popular dogs would also loom large within the mixed-breed population. The breed topped a similar list back in 2010 and remains a favorite. German Shepherds were the most common breed found in mutts from Montana and the Dakotas and the second-most common in several other states.

Chow Chow

In their native China, the Chow Chow’s name roughly translates to “puffy lion dog.” Here in the states, the dog ranks #3 when it comes to mixed-breed pups. You may find protective, independent Chow Chows mixed with breeds like the Akita or German Shepherd. In fact, you’re probably more likely to encounter a Chow Chow-mix than a purebred example. According to the AKC, the Chow Chow is just the 77th-most popular purebred dog in the United States.

Labrador Retriever

Another unsurprising member of the list, Labrador Retrievers aren’t just America’s favorite breed. In Alaska, Iowa, and Idaho, they’re also the breed most likely to turn up on a dog’s DNA test. The Labrador Retriever’s affectionate disposition makes them an ideal family pet and that quality is still evident in any Lab-mix.

Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog is another less-familiar dog that has left a large paw print across the United States and its mixed-breed population. Imported to the US after World War II, the breed is a trusted companion to farmers and families alike.

Boxer

Ranking near the top of both the AKC and Embark lists, the Boxer is beloved for loyalty, affection, and boundless energy. The breed’s sheer numbers have helped make Boxer-mixes a common sight in shelters and adoption centers nationwide.

American Staffordshire Terrier

The AmStaff is another dog you’ve probably encountered without even realizing it. Though they rank just 85th on the AKC’s list, the breed’s DNA is found in mixed-breed dogs from sea to shining sea. They came to America as fighting dogs, but the American Staffordshire Terrier and their descendants are now more than capable of serving as protective family pets.

Chihuahua

Though they’re recognized as the world’s smallest breed, Chihuahuas have had a big impact on the pet population of California and the Southwestern states. In the Golden State, Chihuahuas are the top breed identified within mixed-breed dogs. They’re also the #2 result in Nevada and New Mexico, among other states.

Rottweiler

The Rottweiler’s imposing frame can give prospective pet parents the idea that the breed is unusually aggressive, even vicious. Anyone who has owned and loved a Rottweiler (or Rottweiler-mix), however, knows that proper socialization and a little affection goes a long way.

Siberian Husky

Though they’re often mistaken for the Alaskan Malamute, the Siberian Husky ranks higher on both the AKC and Embark lists. A 2015 study suggests that the two breeds have a close genetic relationship to one another, as well as their relative the Alaskan Husky.

More Information on Dog DNA Testing

Interested in learning more about the story your dog’s genetic data can tell? Check out some of our articles on the burgeoning world of canine DNA test kits:

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