Two years ago, 35-pound Maggie was adopted from the Franklin County Dog Shelter in Columbus, Ohio. And – thanks to cutting edge DNA technology – her breeds have now been identified. Think you can guess what Maggie is? You might be surprised at the results! First things first, “throw out any preconceived ideas that you have about what the dog’s breed make-up is,” says Robin Ray, a representative for the Canine Heritage Breed Test. “The reality of the dog is that of any species in the world, the dog has the greatest variety – and also has the greatest ability to mutate because of their short life span. We have been basing what we think our mixed breeds are by what they “look like” because up to this point we have had no other means to guess. What we find in testing the DNA is that what you see is not necessarily what you have.”
According to Robin, studying a dog’s individual behavior and personality is almost more important than the animal’s looks. Her advice to dog owners looking to identify their beloved pooch’s breeds? “Forget what you’ve been told by your vet, the shelter where you rescued him, and what the people at the dog park say… be open to the possiblity that their dog is not at all what they thought, and be prepared for possible and/or likely surprises!”
So I asked Maggie’s owners, the Moffit family, to share a little bit about Maggie’s personality. This is what they had to say:
“She was one year old when we got her and now at three she keeps our lives interesting… Maggie is extremely energetic. She loves to run and run, did I mention she likes to run?! She has on occasion taken off on us because her nose has hit a trail of something… She once found the peacocks that the man down the road owns. Once something catches her attention we can forget about her being obedient. I would definitely say she’s stubborn. She also loves food and will eat most anything, including the garbage. Maggie is extremely loving and wants to be near whoever is in the room… She loves to sleep on the boy’s beds and insists on burying herself under their covers. She adores anyone who comes to visit, but is very protective of our two boys. When she barks it sounds much like that of a hound!”
The Moffitt’s gave Maggie the Canine Heritage Breed test which involves a fast, simple and painless swab of the dog’s cheek.
Robin Ray advises that owners “look over the identifiable breed list on our website… The test can only identify breeds that are listed on that list – so for example, if you think one of the dogs you are going to swab is mostly Jack Russell – it would not be a good candidate for the test, as the JRT is not presently included on the identifiable breed list… Also, be sure the dogs you are testing were adopted/rescued within the Continental US, Alaska, Hawaii or Canada.”
The results are returned in the following format:
Primary: The dog’s DNA contains a majority (50% or greater) of a specific breed. Most mixed breed canines do not receive a breed in this category unless they have a purebred parent.
Secondary: Breed(s) that have a strong influence on your dog, although each listed breed makes up less than the majority of the animal’s DNA.
In the Mix: These identified breeds appear in a low – but measureable – amount in your dog’s DNA. The breeds listed in this category have the least amount of influence on your pet.
The Moffit family predicted the Maggie’s results would come out as follows… What are your guesses?
“We definetely feel that Maggie has beagle in her due to the bark, stubborness, and sense of smell… Other than that we’re not sure. We thought maybe she had boxer in her because of her exciteabiltiy and the fact that when we play with her she will stand on her back legs and ‘box’ at us with her front paws. Our third guess would be Whippet, only because of how her stomach curves up toward the back and because of her speed. She can fly!”
Check out these pictures of Maggie, make your own predictions, and scroll down to read the results of her DNA make-up!
Primary: None listed. Maggie does not have a full-blood parent, so there is not a breed that is 50% or greater recognized in her DNA.
Secondary: Black and tan coonhound.
In the Mix: Australian shepherd and Italian greyhound.
When analyzing results from a dog’s DNA test, Robin Ray of the Canine Heritage Breed Test advises that dog owners “read about every breed coming up in every category…even the most remote category. Don’t just focus on what those breeds “look like”… because just like humans …they can have a “you look like your mom but act like your dad!” situation…and you may “see” a breed in the dog’s behavior if you’re not seeing it in the dog’s appearance. But additionally, just like humans – just because it’s there, it doesn’t mean it’s going to affect the dog at all. When people get upset about the breeds in the lowest category, or “in the mix”, my question to them is always, “do you look and act like every one of your great grandparents?” But on the flip side we also see something show up strong in the dog’s DNA, but it’s something from further back that is showing itself very dramatically in either appearance or behavior or both… and it’s just recessive.”
Have you adopted a dog within the Continental US, Alaska, Hawaii or Canada? Find out your dog’s DNA with the Canine Heritage Breed Test or other similar products and stay tuned for more “Guess the DNA” Nat Geo DOGS blog posts!