Dog DNA Breed Identification Tests

Finally the Mystery Is Solved!

In this post you're going to learn about dog DNA breed identification tests that can help you solve some of the greatest mysteries in a dog parent's life!

So, you adopted a dog from the shelter or your cousin gave you a pup from their family dog who got pregnant from an unknown father. From day one, the sweet little thing worked her way into your heart, and by week two, she was just like family -- she became your fur child and maybe your kids' favorite playmate.

Unknown Dog Breed Image

You're already checking on lodging that will take dogs for your next vacation. Yeah, we know... you're a dog parent and you understand those pangs of guilt when you even think about leaving your fur child at home while the rest of the family goes on vacation!

As you study your dog's physical characteristics and watch her behaviors, it's only natural to start wondering about her breed heritage. You may even start debating with your family and friends about whether or not your dog has German Shepard in her. "See look at the shape and color of her snout!" your spouse may state emphatically. But... you may point at her partially flopping ears and retort, "No way!"

Your neighbor may comment on how well she gets along with your kitty and comment, "Well, she does sort of look like a German Shepard in the face but that's just not normal behavior for a German Shepard!"

Can you identify your dog breed by looking?

The truth is that even "experts" can't tell the breed heritage of a dog just by looking, even if they think (or claim) they can! In fact, there is a large scale study that proves this. In the summer of 2012, a team from the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine, conducted a survey of a panel of dog identification experts including veterinarians, dog breeders, dog groomers, and workers at dog rescue shelters. These are the professionals that dog parents often turn to for help in determining the breed heritage in their dogs.

More than 5000 of these experts were given a survey which asked them to guess the breed heritage of 100 mixed breed dogs in shelters that had already been genetically tested to determine their actually breed heritage using scientific evidence. Furthermore, these dogs were specifically selected because DNA testing indicated they were at least 25 percent of a full breed in their DNA profile.

Only one-third of the time did the experts actually correctly identify at least one of the breeds proven to be in the dog's genes from genetic testing!

What Kind Of Dog Is This Screen Shot Image

Screen Shot Credit: Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program

You can view facial and side profile photographs of the dogs in the survey, the top guesses made, and what the dog DNA breed identification tests actually revealed at this webpage:

Try guessing yourself and see how many you get right! You may also want to cover up the answers and have friends and family take the survey and then grade them! It's a lot of fun to see just how very wrong we can be when it comes to judging breed heritage based on what a dog looks like, i.e. just their phenotype!!

The fact is you can't just visually determine what's lurking in your lovable mutt's DNA and that's where an easily affordable dog DNA breed identification test can come to the rescue. One of the most popular tests for this is the Wisdom Panel 2.5 Breed Identification DNA Test Kit.

DNA my dog... Dog DNA Breed Identification Test

Dog DNA Breed Identification Test Wisdom Panel Image

Once you order your kit, you are sent by snail mail a kit containing two swaps to collect a DNA sample from your dog. This is done by inserting the swab into your dog's mouth and gently swabbing the inside of their cheek.

If you look at cheek cells under a microscope, they look long and flat so they slough off easily when you run the swap over them. Labels are provided so everything is coded.

You go online and register your code and create an account at the website and await the results to be returned inside your online account. It usually only takes one to two weeks.

Time for DNA Breed Identification Results

When the results come in, you will be given the breed heritage of the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of your dog, if they can be determined. The report of the results will tell you if one or more of your dog's progenitors out to the level of great-grandparent was a full breed.

In other cases, they may not be able to tell the exact breed but they can tell you what dog family a grandparent or great-grandparent was a member of. In most cases, you will learn a great deal about the breed heritage of your dog.

What breed is my mutt?

Very often, there are fun surprises in breed heritage discovered.

For example, you may discover that one of grandparents of your large "golden retriever" was a poodle!

You may discover that the dog you would have sworn had to have German Shepard in him is actually a mix of Shetland Sheepdog, Chow Chow, Miniature Poodle, and American Foxhound... WOW!!!

You may discover that your odd looking "Basset Hound" is part Jack Russell Terrier... and this may explain why your hound dog, that you had assumed would be relatively low energy, is such a bundle of energy, you're having trouble keeping up with him! In this case, you may want to consider hiring a neighborhood teen to go running in the park with your pooch a few times a week!

Each dog DNA breed identification test looks at different genetic markers and compares this to their own database of DNA for known dog breeds.

In the case of the Wisdom Panel tests, they look at more than 321 genetic markers and have more than 10,000 entries in their genetic database to compare with. It's one of the most extensive consumer end dog DNA tests for breed heritage currently available.

While knowing more about your dog's breed heritage is fun, there are also practical aspects of ordering a dog DNA test as well. For example, the more you know about the genetic make-up of your dog, the more you'll be able to understand their innate behaviors and know how to work with them.

Remember, as dog breeds were developed, breeding dogs were selected not only for their physical appearance but also for their behavioral tendencies and natural temperaments.

What Breed Is My Dog Image

To look at just one example in more detail, herding breeds, like collies and shepherd dogs, were selected for their ability to herd animals. Therefore, they can have the tendency to nip at the heels of the humans in their "pack."

While adults intuitively know to handle this with an emphatic "NO," toddlers and young children may not have this intuition and may have to be specifically being instructed to do so.

Furthermore, you may need to spend extra time with dogs who have herding breed heritage not to nip at the feet of company in your home.

Here's another example. You may have selected a dog from the shelter that looked like a "lab" or a "golden retriever" because these are generally good nature dogs that are gentle with children and babies.

However, after ordering your dog DNA breed identification test, you may discover that two of your "lab looking" dog's grandparents were actually terriers, which have a tendency to snap at children, especially strangers.

You can use this information to take more time to train your dog and your children. For example, you may want to make it a rule with your kids to only offer a treat to the dog from the palm of their hands, never with their fingers. You may also make it a rule that kid visitors are not allowed to pet or touch the dog until the dog becomes acclimated to them.

All and all, dog DNA tests that identify breed heritage can be both fun and practical. They also make fabulous gifts that keep on giving with the information they provide.

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