Monday, May 19, 2014

Mongrel DNA Tests Posted by Readers

 You can't judge a book by its cover and the same goes for mixed-breed dogs.

 "Research has shown that visual inspection of a dog breed heritage by shelter and rescue organizations was only able to identify at least one breed 25% of the time – in other words 75% of the time, they could not even identify a single correct breed in the dog’s ancestry and 87.5% of the time, their “guesses” were incorrect."  - MARS Wisdom Panel staff

Golden Retriever x Tiger Cross?
No - just some hair coloring and a good sense of humor.

Below are DNA test results for mixed breed dogs, recently sent to me by owners. In an earlier post I included the results for several mixed breeds, so check those out, too.  At the bottom of this post is a really good explanation by MARS Wisdom Panel explaining why results are accurate but seem so crazy. If you don't want to take the time to read it, the short answer is - dogs are a lot weirder than you can ever image. Send me your pooch's DNA results and I'll post it here. My email is

"I did both tests - Wisdom and Heritage Mixed Breed," explained Karma's person. "My dog is about 60-65 pounds, 24 inches at the shoulder and looks like a Husky with shepherd in her.  Heritage came back with 75% Husky / 25% Auzzie Shepherd, while Wisdom came back with 50% Husky / 25% Golden Retriever / 25% Newfie." 
Lots of Husky genes in there,
but no German Shepherd.

Chloe's person said, "According to her DNA test, Chloe is a Chow Chow/Rottweiler mix on one side and mixed on the other. Her mixes were Staffordshire Terrier, Samoyed, Min Pin et al. I could have sworn she was a Border Collie. She is very sweet, not aggressive at all, very soft and silky. I do believe her mother is part Chow." 
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"I got my puppy, Charlie, from a humane society when he was about 2 months old. (In the photo he is about 6.5 months.)" Charlie's person added, "Size wise he is 33 lbs and 20" at the shoulder...  On one side his grandparents were purebred miniature poodle and a rottweiler, and his other grandparents were a collie and Labrador Retriever mix."

On one side Maggie's parent is American Staffordshire Terrier/German Shepherd mix and on the other her parent is Chow Chow mix.

Maggie's person wrote, "We just tested one of our dogs using the MARS Wisdom Panel 2.0. I have to say that we are skeptical of the results. Maggie is a 40 lb., highly energetic dog with a very strong herding instinct. We've been told repeatedly that she looks most like an Australian Kelpie mix, and she certainly fits many of the breed characteristics.  The results came back as mixed breed on one side (part German Shephard, part American Staff Terrier) and Chow Chow the other.  The Chow Chow part seems really unlikelyWe don't care, but wanted to know what she is as she's such a great dog!"

One parent is a Rottweiler, the rest is a mystery. (Buddy weighs 135 lbs.)

Xanthe is all Greyhound.

Xanthe's person wrote, "I recently had my newest addition to the family tested to document what I thought was a foregone conclusion. The two previous DNA tests I sent in [on my other dogs] came back with very illuminating and believable results, so I thought this one would be a slam dunk. Imagine my surprise when the results came back that my girl is a purebred Greyhound! At least, that's how it's couched."

Roxie at 6 months and 60 pounds. At 8 months she
weighed 80 pounds.

Roxie's person purchased what he thought was a Bullmastiff puppy. He wrote, "As our puppy grew everyone though she was a Pit Bull - eventually we came to believe she was either a Cane Corso or a Pit Bull x Lab mix. After testing with Wisdom Panel, we can now say she is a Bullmastiff with a little Boxer. Her eight great grandparents are as follows: Bullmastiff x Bullmastiff, Mastiff x Boxer, Bullmastiff x Bullmastiff, Mixed Breed x Boxer." Her good temperament seems in line with a Bullmastiff, but she looks intimidating, which is what her person was looking for. He added,  "I have no regrets buying her. Everyone still thinks she's a Pit Bull, and it irks me that people are so afraid of her. I bought her a bright pink collar to help her look friendly."

Gus is half Australian Cattle Dog and half Miniature Poodle
See more photos of hybrid Cattledoodles 
Can you see bird dog traits in his sweet face?

Bandi is the offspring of two mixes. One parent is a combination Mastiff, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Cocker Spaniel. The other parent is mostly American Staff with some terrier. Bandi partners with a person who handles rehab & behavior issues for some unadoptable dogs from shelters. "He was unadoptable for two years at the shelter for behavior issues, like nipping people and fighting with dogs, but had high intelligence and interest. Three months of intense rehab and conditioning and he now teaches social skills to a dozen problem dogs each year, is safe with small kids and cats and is affectionate but polite."

Below: MARS Wisdom Panel staff explain why mixed breed dogs may not look like their relatives:

"What a dog looks like is not what a dog is. Some mixed breed dogs are a combination of all the breeds in their make up and don't necessarily look like any one breed in particular. Dogs are products of their genes and not products of their breeds. Physical appearance (predominantly determined by genes that influence the development of canine size and body mass, coat length, type and color, skull shape, leg length, ear and tail types), are known to be controlled by a very small number of genes relative to the number of genes contained in the canine genome (~20,000 or so in total). These genes can have both recessive and dominant variants and the variant that is present determines the visible effect on physical traits seen.  The presence of breed signatures does not guarantee that the dog will look like all detected breeds – the wonder of genetic inheritance can be seen as much in people as in dogs.  A mixed-breed dog could be a mix of three or four breeds but have few traits evident from one or more of these breeds."

Send me your dog's DNA results along with a picture and I'll post them here. 
My email is


  1. It is interesting with looks not being the only factor. I have seen litters with each pup looking different, so you never know what genes they pick up for looks and coloring.


  2. Such an interesting post......loved all the featured dogs!!

  3. They couldn't find any of that obvious Saluki DNA in Chloe? REALLY? Not even a teeny bit? Wow...

    My current pup has some Fox terrier (he Foxie-pounces and has the same straight shoulders), and some pointer (yup, points at those lizards!), and who-knows what else. He's fawn with a white bib and dark "eye makeup". But here's the kicker-- his two brothers look nothing like him. One looks just like a Dingo; the other is a classic black-and-tan. Their dam is a terrier type, white with steel patches; sire unknown.

    If I could afford it, I'd just LOVE to have my boy DNA tested, mostly for the possible laughs...

    Thanks for a great blog. And your "Tale of the Tail" paper certainly explained to me why GSDs have gone to slope-backed HD heck-in-a-handbasket.

    1. I can see a wee bit of the Saluki in Chloe now that you mention it. But whenever you see Chow Chow in the DNA report (and you often will), it's code for ancient dogs of many kinds, and that would include the Saluki's relatives. The older the breed (and Chows go back around 5 thousand years) the more likely that ancient breed types are lurking around in the genome. Also, the more mixed the breed, the more of a generalist she might be. That would account for your pooches' pouncing AND pointing. Those behaviors, along with others like stalking and flushing are part of the original domestic dog repertoire. When breeds are mixed, it's likely that inhibitor genetic variants are turned off. So in a purebred Pointer or Greyhound, something overrides stalking behavior. Then when other breeds are mixed in, that variant gets diluted and turned off and voila, you get a mutt that is a generalist. And viva la generalista, eh?

    2. Thanks for the reply.

      I used to be owned by a boss's 3 Salukis and used to sketch them often, so those lines (and the flagged tail. And the goofy clown smile) are sort of etched on my brain. And thanks very much, re: Chow Code. I'll remember.

      And yes, definitely love my generalist boy. He's starting to get the order of things right now-- it's a bit pointless (scuse pun) to point at the leaf after he's pounced on it. So now it's point.......POUNCE! He's barely 4 months. I'm wondering what other generalist behaviours he might chuck into his repertoire.

      Thanks again for the reply, and greetings to Mr. Gus.

    3. One thing I've noticed while watching pups (especially mixes) grow up is that sometimes these motor-pattern behaviors turn on, and then, just as abruptly turn off. For example, at four months, a little guy may stalk everything and you'll think there's a border collie in there somewhere. And then at six months he'll never do it again. Very curious. But mongrel pups are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.