Wednesday, July 16, 2014


YOSHITAKA HAMADA - Daily Hampshire Gazette
Jessica Russell pets "Scout," a mix of poodle and Australian Shepard, during the Blackberry Lane block party in Northampton Saturday, July 12, 2014.
Will someone please tell me when a dog becomes a "mutt," the word I always understood to mean (a la an Internet dictionary) "a pet dog, especially one that does not belong to a particular breed?"

Does it depend on the neighborhood you live in? Does it mean that some aspect of the animal has been blessed by the American Kennel Club, the premier ring of doggie desirability here in the U.S.?

Does it matter what color the owners are?

When slicing the canine lineage pie, does "a half" rank higher than a "quarter." And how do you measure, genetics being what they are?

Is a "mutt" your dog but not mine or vice versa?

If I own a Ford and you own a Rolls Royce -- is my dog a "mutt" and yours a "mix?"

Is a "mix" a polite way of saying that some aspect of this mutt is pricey but another aspect ... well, hell, who knows what happens behind the woodpile late at night?

And, at the other 'end' of the spectrum, how would you know that something was authentically pure without the mutts of this world to authenticate it?


  1. James Herriot told of a Scottish vet who when asked by a client what breed her dog was he said, "best just call it a wee broon dog". (broon being Scottish accent for brown) My personal favorite is the Irish kinardly, so many kinds of dog you kinardly tell what it is. I guess in doggy sets, if you can claim a paper trail from two particularly lines, you've invented a new, hyphenated breed. Human disservice to dogs in the way of breeding is very sad affair.

  2. As I understand it ALL dogs would be more or less like wolves if not for breeding. It's often cited as "proof" the evolution occurs. There's an interesting study on Russian wild foxes about the "breeding out" of the "wild" nature of the aggressive but adorable black foxes.
    To me, "mutt" has always been synonymous with "mixed." I never considered the requirement for the title. I guess it's like "hot." It's all relative.

  3. That dog looks perplexed -- probably having an identity crisis.