Genetic Analysis Testing for your Dog!

Many of us have mixed breed dogs we adopted from an animal shelter or rescue group.  The dog usually comes with some paperwork suggesting a breed that it might be mixed with, but that is just a guess, unless a purebred mother or father are known.  But while it is fun to guess what your mixed breed dog might contain, the accuracy of even educated guesses is pretty low.

There was a research paper published in 2013 where people looked at photos and video clips of 20 different mixed breed dogs (Comparison of Visual and DNA Breed Identification of Dogs and Inter-Observer Reliability, V.L. Voithi, et al)  The results: “For 14 of the dogs, fewer than 50% of the respondents visually identified breeds of dogs that matched DNA identification. For only 7 of the dogs was there agreement among more than 50% of the respondents regarding the most predominant breed of a mixed breed and in 3 of those cases the visual identification did not match the DNA analysis.”  So while about half of the people guessed at least the main breed in the dog, there was vast discrepancy and, at least in a few cases, no one guessed right at all!  (If you want to view the original article, click here.

Another study bred two different purebred breeds together and this is the picture of the puppies–can you guess what breeds they are?Basenji x cockerSome of the guesses at the clinic were: Labrador/beagle, Lab/Springer Spaniel, and beagle/rat terrier.

parents of hybrids

But the parents were actually a Basenji and a Cocker Spaniel!  So you can see how difficult it can be to guess a breed!





Want to try another?  This is Bentley:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe owner was told he was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix–he certainly had the size.  His picture was posted on the Four Lakes facebook page and guesses to his parentage included Rottweiler, Golden Retriever, Chow, Labrador, Pitbull, Boxer, Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Chesapeake Bay Retriever.



His DNA test came back as 50% Rottweiler, 25% Collie, and 25% Golden Retriever.

Here’s my dog’s picture (he is getting acupuncture for weakness in his back legs):Chase

When he was younger, an instructor at an obedience class said he was a full blooded American Staffordshire Terrier (ie. Pitbull).  I wasn’t buying that.  I thought he looked more like a short-haired Border Collie (and he loved to chase balls).  Take your guess!

Chase turned out to be a mix of Ibizan Hound, Chow, and Dalmatian, with a little German Shepherd further back in his ancestory.  That explained the thick ruff of fur around his neck and haunches and those spots!  Not sure where the Ibizan hound comes in, however!

But besides being a fun “parlor game” to guess your “cutest dog ever’s” breed, why is important to know what is in your dog’s background?    It can be helpful for understanding your dog’s temperament–is he a breed that tends to be aggressive?  Protective?  A herding breed (might explain why your dog is always chasing the kids!)  Knowing your dog’s genetic makeup can also be very helpful (and potentially save you money) if your dog gets sick.

Crystal Chrisler, a sales representative for Royal Canin, adopted a mixed breed dog and decided to have her DNA tested.

Here are a couple pictures of her (Honey is on the right side in the picture with 2 dogs):


Any guesses to her breed?  The wrinkles on the lower picture are a clue, but would you believe she is 50% Shar Pei?  DSC_0213(The other half was too mixed to distinguish specific breeds).


This is Crystal’s story:   We figured by her appearance that she had some Chinese shar pei in her but I didn’t expect that she was as much as 50%. This past Sunday morning, Honey was acting sick – I couldn’t get her to stand or even open her eyes. Our vet had me take her temperature and after discovering it was 106 we rushed to the Vet ER. Heart rate of 220 – clearly something was up. Normal blood work. The doctor came in to chat with me and asked if I knew her breed, I told him about our GHA results and he had an ‘AH HA!’ moment. Shar Pei fever. Without her breed pointing us to this syndrome, they would have continued diagnostics with radiographs, ultrasounds, EKGs..etc. They treated her with fluids and meds for her fever and she was better by 9pm that same night. She’s doing great now and we have a plan for future fevers.

DNA testing with the Genetic Health Analysis test has been shown to be about 90% accurate.  It only requires a small blood sample from your dog and the cost is quite reasonable–$129.  Take $10 bets from your friends and offer a small prize and you can have the test pay for itself! : )  Give us a call today (608-919-6750) to find out what is in YOUR dog’s mix!


Mated pair — basenji & cocker
BCS F1 hybrids — male and female pair

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