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

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Fredericksburg Dog Auction - Held Annually Since 1677

I found this clipping in a 1949 dog food company promotional pamphlet.  Apparently Gaines took a cue from the Ripley's Believe it or Not column, but focused on dogs.

I did a little research and this is what I found out. As early as 1600, American colonists and local indigenous people (Manahoac) would set aside their differences for one day and trade furs and produce for prized English hunting dogs.  However, the Virginia Assembly passed a law in 1619 forbidding the sale of dogs to Indians. That law was lifted in 1677, and since then, albeit sporadically, the dog auction has taken place in Fredericksburg.  Today the auction is more like a celebration of dogs, with canine agility demonstrations, Indian crafts and dog parades. Read more about the Fredericksburg Dog Auction.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Quilts for Dogs

My sister and her friends won a big prize for their dog quilt at a national quilt contest in Paducah Kentucky.

It wasn't just their excellent stitching that persuaded judges to award them the $1,000 second prize in Group Quilts. It had to be the absolute cuteness of their dogs.

Each stitcher photographed her dog. Then they blew up the pictures and traced them to make a line drawing pattern which they appliqued in bright colored prints.
 The original intent was to make a quilt to donate to the local Humane Society's annual auction but the dogs looked so good they decided to first enter it into the contest. Now that it's famous they have to decide a way to use it to make the most money for the cause.

 It's a great way to raise money for a good cause.

My sister explains how they made the quilt on her blog, Barbara Brackman's Material Culture.  And she features more photos too. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Are Hybrid Dogs Healthier Than Purebreds?

Two first generation Lab x Poodle crosses that look different.
Designer dogs don't always breed true, meaning
traits are not set. (But vive la difference.)
Are hybrid dogs healthier than their purebred counterparts?  It depends. Many hybrid (aka designer dogs) are made up of breeds so closely related that they carry the same genetic variants.  Although they don't always breed true, the Labrador Retriever and Poodle are both water retrievers with very close ancestry. The expression of shared inherited diseases may be lower than either parent, but still high in comparison to a cross between, for instance, a  Greyhound and  Schnauzer, breeds that are more distantly related. The table below lists ten breeds and their most common genetic afflictions. Notice how some breeds share the same inherited diseases.
Most common inherited pathologies in ten different breeds.
You can see a list of all breeds at
the  Canine Inherited Disorders Database

This is not a scientific study. It's just a means of illustrating why hybrid dogs may not be healthier than their purebred parents.  If you want a designer dog with less incidence of inherited disease, cross two dogs that don't share the same pathologies.
The Baseji and Standard Schnauzer have few traits in common.  They would make a cute and likely healthy puppy.
If you want to see how your dog stacks up, check out the Canine Inherited Disorders Database.  What I like most is they tell you which disorders most seriously affect health, which ones are less devastating and which ones are associated with the conformation of the dog.  For example, Pugs, English Bulldogs and a plethora of other breeds with seriously shortened muzzles suffer from an inherited disorder that affects the amount of oxygen they get.  So it's only a disease in that people like the mutation and keep breeding for it, which I really don't get.