The Difference Between Purebred and Pedigree Dogs and Cats

The pet experts at PD Insurance guide you through everything you need to know about the difference between purebred and pedigree dogs and cats.

Purebred and pedigree – surely when it comes to dogs and cats, it’s the same thing? Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they don’t actually mean quite the same thing. So next time you talk about your pedigree cat or purebred dog, here’s how to make sure you’re using the right lingo.


Purebred and pedigree: what is purebred?

When it comes to the purebred and pedigree debate, let’s start with purebred. This refers to kittens or pups bred from parents of the same breed. The aim of purebred dogs and cats is usually to create a specific set of traits that all of the animals of that breed will display. These include physical traits as well as temperaments.

Usually, you’ll have a solid idea if your pet is purebred. They’ll look and act the same as other pets of their breed. So, for example, a Siamese kitten born from two Siamese parents would be a purebred Siamese cat.

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Purebred and pedigree: what is pedigree?

The term pedigree, though often used instead of purebred, actually refers to the entire lineage of an animal.

If an animal has a pedigree, it means the breeding history of a pet’s parents, grandparents, etc, has been recorded and you can trace their bloodline back, just like a family tree. The bloodline is officially recorded by a breeding registry, like Dogs New Zealand.

Why does this need to happen? Well, the main reason is to note trends in traits, behaviour, health issues, and so on through several generations. This information can then be used to identify which animals consistently produced offspring with certain traits.

For example, some horses always have offspring that are grey. And some specific German Shepherd lines might be more likely to develop hip dysplasia than others. Certain lines in a cat’s history might reliably produce very friendly or very athletic cats.

So how do pedigree dogs and cats become pedigreed? There’s an official process to follow to get your pup registered, which is covered in PD Insurance’s article on how to prove your dog is purebred. If you have a pedigree kitten, the process is largely the same. However, breeders often sort this process out for pet parents. So kittens and pups from reputable breeders will often come with the appropriate paperwork.

Purebred and pedigree: what’s the difference?

Both purebred and pedigree are used to describe the breed of an animal. But they aren’t quite the same term.

Purebred mostly refers to an animal’s parents. So to get a purebred means that both parents of the dog or cat in question are the same breed and that they’re purebreds of that breed. To get a purebred Boxer, the mum and dad would both need to be Boxers.

So what is a pedigree Boxer? Essentially, a Boxer with a traceable lineage and family history back through generations.

The terms purebred and pedigree become only become confusing when you have a purebred Boxer that isn’t a pedigree Boxer. The same goes for other cats and dogs.

The rule is basically that all pedigree pets are purebred, but not all purebred pets are pedigree. While purebred refers to the parentage, pedigree refers to the animal’s entire genetic history and background. 

Whether you have a proudly mixed breed, a dog with a lineage as long as your arm, or a purebred but unregistered kitten, pet insurance is a good idea to safeguard against unmanageable vet bills in the event of accident or illness.

And that’s where PD Insurance can help. As the winner of Canstar’s latest Award for Most Satisfied Customers | Pet Insurance, as rated by Kiwi pet owners, PD Insurance specialises in low-cost, high-value pet insurance that can cushion against hefty vet bills for tests, treatments, medication and more.

The three simple policies offered by PD Insurance offer the quality protection your furry family member deserves, with no lock-in contracts. In addition, you can go to any vet of your choice, plus you can upgrade or downgrade your plan as your needs change.

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About the reviewer of this page

Bruce PitchersThis report was reviewed by Canstar’s Editor, Bruce Pitchers. Bruce has three decades’ experience as a journalist working for major media companies in the UK and Australasia, including ACP, Bauer Media Group, Fairfax, Pacific Magazines, News Corp and TVNZ. Prior to Canstar, he worked as a freelancer, including for The Australian Financial Review, the NZ Financial Markets Authority, and for real estate companies on both sides of the Tasman.

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