All About Majestic Mutts

For the first time in the 125-year history of the American Kennel Club, the country's most prestigious dog organization, mixed-breed dogs are being allowed to compete alongside the champion bloodlines -- not in the "beauty contests," but in the skill-based contests.

Pictures: Going to the Dogs

However, now that the competition is officially opened to mixed breeds to compete alongside their purebred cousins, "The Early Show" celebrated these magnificent mutts by showcasing them in their own "beauty pageant."

"Early Show" Resident Veterinarian Dr. Debbye Turner Bell explained there are some advantages to having a mixed-breed dog.

She said, "There's something called hybrid vigor in genetics, meaning in general most mixed breeds are healthier, have fewer breed-related diseases, and live longer. A lot of purebred have not been bred responsibly, so negative health traits get propagated down the line across generations. Mixing with another breed dilutes that. Some fans of mixed breeds will also say they are smarter and easier to train. If the principal is true for genetics, then it may be true as well for this."

As for disadvantages, Bell says owners don't know what they're going to get in terms of size and appearance. Also, a lot of people get caught up in the high premium placed on pedigree and want purebred and designer mutts.

She said, "You might lose a little status in your social dog park."

If you're looking to adopt a mixed-breed puppy, Bell said it's a myth that you can gauge the dog's eventual size.

"There is no way to know their size," she said. "Even if their coat is all white when they are a puppy, for example, they may develop spots or something later. You have to like surprises! You really don't know what you're going to get until you get it!"

The most popular mixed breed is the poodle. Bell said poodles are popular because of low shed, they are hypo-allergenic, and they have great temperaments and are easy to train.

"Otherwise, it's just a matter of what dog got out of the yard that day," she said. "For your garden-variety mutt, what's popular is often whatever the popular purebreds are. Labrador, golden retriever, and yorkies are all popular. Some don't get spayed or neutered, and when they get out, mixed breeds are made!"

However, if you really want to know what your dog is made of, Bell said you can have genetic tests conducted to discern its origins. She suggested the Canine Heritage Breed Test, which costs $75. Also, Wisdom Panel TM MX Mixed Breed Analysis Test is available.

All dogs featured on "The Early Show" are available for adoption:

SAM
ROTTWEILER & BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG
Sam is from Waggin' Train Rescue in New Jersey. She loves swimming (could there be another breed in the mix??), sleeping, and cuddling. She gets along with big and little dogs alike!

You can adopt Sam at Waggin Train Rescue.org

MEI MEI
WESTIE POO
Mei Mei, from PetResQ in NJ, is a lady through and through. She is very polite and quiet and loves to cuddle. She also does not shed so you will be able to wear your black wardrobe!

You can adopt Mei Mei at Pet Finder.com.

BLACKIE
BLACK LAB & BASSET HOUND
Blackie is from In Our Hands Rescue in New York. He is a shy and sweet guy that needs a little time to come out of his shell. He is very social with other dogs and cats and eager to please will do best with another dog companion to romp around and play with. His favorite snack is peanut butter.

You can adopt Blackie at In Our Hands Rescue.org .

PENELOPE
GOLDENDOODLE
Penelope is from Doodle Rescue Collective. Her hobbies include racing the other dogs for a spot on her favorite dog bed and running laps around the yard at top speed. She is approximately 3 years old.

You can adopt Penelope at Doodle Rescue Inc.

MISTY
HUSKY / BLACK LAB PUPPY
Misty is from In Our Hands Rescue in New York. She is a cute little bundle of fluff. She loves belly rubs and playing with children and other animals. She loves any treat you give her but goes crazy for hot dogs and loves chew toys.

You can adopt Misty at In Our Hands Rescue.org.