Dog owners hear this question all the time, every time they walk their dog, and often multiple times per walk. For all dog lovers, this is the official icebreaker. The next question in line is usually “can I pet your dog?”. That is, if the person asking is polite; otherwise, an answer to the previous question is usually considered good enough according to most curious souls to go ahead with the “hellooooo doggy” and the patting on the head.
For some owners, this answer can be very short ( “a Beagle”, “a Doberman” , etc. ), but for some others, it can be a long and confusing answer that looks something like this: “I think there is some Beagle, but I think the ears make him look more like a Jack Russell, but yet his energy level fits the one of a Pug, and from what I heard at the shelter, his mother was with him when they found him and she looked like a Shepherd, but I do not see any Shepherd in him, instead….”. Having to repeat this every single time the gets tiring for even the most motivated owners. With time, the answer gets shorter, and shorter, and eventually sounds something like “a Mutt”. There are alternative answers.
For not even an hundred dollars, dog owners of mixed-breed pups can finally know the missing pieces in their doggy’s DNA. Companies manufacture DNA test where the dog’s DNA is analysed against the DNA of the 120 most popular breeds; from this analysis, they can then identify the primary and secondary breeds in the dog’s mix.
The process is fairly simple. The owner orders a breed test kit which he receives by mail along with every tool he needs to take the sample. No blood samples are required; the owner only needs to use the collection brush and swap it inside his dog’s mouth to collect cheek epithelial cells. He then mails back the sample and the company proceeds with its analysis and sends him back the results by mail a couple of weeks later. The accuracy of the results, if the dog is mixed with some popular breeds, is as high as 96% according to some companies.
Knowing a dog breed mix does more than satisfy curiosity. Typical behaviors and personalities vary from breed to breed. A dog owner can have a better understanding of his dog’s behavior just by being aware of his friend’s canine heritage. This is a helpful tool in the dog’s education and training. Of course, individual personalities and environment also have an important role in a dog’s behavior, but breed genetics is an important clue – why not get all the clues we can to understand our dogs?
Certain breeds are also more prone to some illnesses and diseases. An owner who is aware of these potential health issues coming from his dog breed composition can be more attentive to symptoms and proactive in managing his dog’s health.
Finally, it gives a short answer to the redundant “what kind of dog is that?” question. But you might want to be ready to get some other type of questions if the DNA results give a surprising mix such as “Labrador” and “Shih Tzhu”…! :)