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Mars' Mutt Census: German Shepherd mix most common in US

Mars Veterinary released findings from its first National Mutt Census, which launched in March 2010 to survey America's mixed-breed dog population and encourage proper pet care.

Mars Veterinary collected DNA samples from around the country from more than 36,000 mixed-breed dogs. These samples underwent genetic analysis by the Mars veterinary team to determine the breed history of each dog. The team found that mixed-breed dogs account for 53% of all pet dogs in the US. The DNA analysis found that the 10 most popular breeds showing up in America's mutts, in order, are German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Chow Chow, Boxer, Rottweiler, Poodle, American Staffordshire Terrier, Golden Retriever, Cocker Spaniel and Siberian Husky.

The genetic data was combined with more than 16,000 responses to a Web survey from owners of mixed-breed dogs. The Mutt Census survey asked questions about dog size and weight, feeding and exercise habits, whether the dog was adopted from a shelter and questions about the dog’s health. The survey found that shelters were the most frequently cited place (46%) for people to obtain mixed-breed dogs, followed by 18% of pet owners who cited a friend, neighbor or relative. Breeds weighing more than 80 pounds represented less than 11% of all mixed-breed dogs, according to the survey. Dry dog food was found to be the most popular petfood, with 65% of pet owners feeding it to their pets. Nearly half of pet owners (48%) said their dog sleeps in bed with them. The survey also found that nearly nine out of 10 (89%) of mixed-breed dogs are neutered. However, 69% of pet owners surveyed said they do not use flea and tick control medicines for their pets regularly.

“The Mars Veterinary National Mutt Census provides a vivid snapshot of past and present trends in mixed breed dogs,” said Dr. Angela Hughes, veterinary genetics research manager at Mars. “Thanks to the Census, we know what breeds are widespread, 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.”

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