What Breed is My Dog?

How many of us have heard the line when we have done something odd, stupid or “unique” while with a relative or our parents, or maybe you were the parent and heard the phrase, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”? I have.

But what about our pets? What is their family tree? If only they could speak. Instead of just wagging their tail, maybe they could enlighten us on their genetic tale and we might have a better clue as to what is their breed. Of course we are talking about the non-purebred pet without papers. Every day, either I or one of my hospital team members is asked, “What breed is Potpourri?”

Let’s see, he has a long nose, short and crooked legs, long coarse hair, medium-to-long long ears, all black in color…maybe a Labrador/Basset mix? Where did the long coarse hair come into play? The options often times are endless. “Mom was a mutt and so was the Dad.”

Other than general interest, are there advantages in knowing the mixture of breeds or genetics of your dog family member? Certain breeds are more prone to health risks and knowing your dog’s genetic background may possibly help you to watch for or screen for these risks. Questions I often get asked about puppies include:

  • How big should he be when grown up?
  • Will he be more sedate or more energetic?
  • How smart do you think he will be?
  • Are certain breeds more easily trained (with the help of delicious dog treats, of course!), more family-oriented, better guard dogs, or any of the other characteristics you might find desirable or undesirable?

It is important to note when considering a puppy that some city ordinances restrict certain breeds and insurance carriers may increase home owner’s policy premiums based on dog breeds.

While our mixed breed dogs can’t tell us about their family tree, there are now genetic tests utilizing DNA technology with more than 90 percent accuracy for more than 235 breeds. This is all accomplished by simply having your veterinarian collect a blood sample and submitting it to a laboratory for testing. The laboratory not only will return results with likely breeds but also print out a report describing behavioral characteristics of the breed and potential breed-related health risks.

This information can not only be intriguing but, as we have witnessed with owners that have had their dogs tested, aids in explaining, “so that is why Rocky always wants to be at my heels and seems to want to corral the kids. He has Queensland Heeler in his background.”

As your dog’s doctors, this can help us to establish an effective care and wellness program based on breed. By having this information it can also allow more targeted behavior training and activities unique to the needs of your dog based on ancestry.

“Curiosity killed the cat.” However, other than being simply curious for curiosity’s sake, there can be valuable knowledge gained by scientifically narrowing down the genetic breed composition of your dog. This curiosity definitely won’t kill your dog, and may, in fact, be helpful to both you and your dog by providing a better understanding of breed behavior and keeping them healthier longer, knowing certain breed-specific health risks. Plus, you can now say to your dog, “now I know from which tree you fell.”

Editor’s Note: Sergeant’s Pet Care products features new pets each week during Pet Fridays. Many different breeds visit our office weekly. For adorable pictures and more information about #PetFridays, visit: https://www.facebook.com/phcfans. 

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