How to

Doggy DNA – Learn How to Determine Your Dog’s Breed

What type of dog do you have?

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes- not to mention their own personalities. Yet we tend to make assumptions based on a dog’s look and behaviour as to what breed it could possibly originate from. Whether adopted from a dog sanctuary, the streets, or a friend, the origins of mixed breed dogs have remained a mystery. Have you ever wondered where your puppy gets its large paws? Perhaps one of the parents is Great Dane or a Labrador, but who knows it could be a Mastiff. Every owner of a mixed breed dog surely is intrigued and baffled by the question many strangers ask, when stopping them to pat their dog “What breed is it?”

7 main dog types

Generally speaking there are 7 basic dog types, which are: companion dogs, hybrid dogs, terrier dogs, toy dogsherding dogs, sporting dogs and non-sporting dogs, hound dogs and working dogs. Yet many other types and sub-types do exist although most dogs tend to fit into the top 7 categories. But in which category or categories does your dog fit into?

For all of you who ever wondered where your mixed breed dog comes from, the answer may simply be in the genes. With the recent advent of dog DNA testing it seems that it is now possible to determine your canine’s background.

What does your canine have to go through to get the DNA test?

Getting to know the mix of breeds inside your dog is now possible with dog breed verification testing. All that is required is a mouth swab sample of the dog in question in order to establish from which breeds the dog being tested has inherited his or her DNA.

The DNA samples are compared against the DNA of main breeds of dogs in order to assess the strength of the DNA match. Laboratories offering this test usually have access to vast databases which contain the DNA profiles of the most popular dog breeds.

Choosing a company that has a reputable name for performing dog DNA testing would be the right choice as the more breeds a company has in their database, the more accurate your results. The quality of the tests is not standardised and not all companies offer tests that are equally accurate; therefore it is recommended you pick carefully where to send your canine’s information.

Results of the testing, typically involve a breakdown of the key breeds detected and their historical background, appearance and behaviour. Usually, the dog breeds that forms the largest part of your dog’s DNA would be indicated as the primary breeds- you dog will also carry the most obviously physical and behavioural traits from the breeds which form the largest part of its DNA. Those breeds which form a smaller part of their DNA would be the secondary breeds and then those dog breeds which form the most insignificant or smallest part of your mongrel’s DNA will be indicated as a tertiary breed. The tiers are not standard across DNA tests so some companies might offer more tiers whilst others might offer less.

The dog DNA test results then delve into the inheritance of genes and if detected, also the mixed breed signatures.

To get tested or not to get tested?

Like with anything else in life there are the pros and cons, here is a list of some doggy DNA testing topics one may want to question:


If you are curious about your dog’s background then why not go ahead and get your dog tested – confirm your guesses by using DNA testing.

Health reasons:

By getting to know what type of breed or breeds your dog is, may allow you a better understanding of health risk associated with certain breeds of dog. You may want to ask your veterinarian for more information about dog health.


There have been cases of dogs being put down for being deemed as having ‘Pit Bull’ in their blood. These dogs are reputed to be a dangerous breed, to the point that some jurisdictions mostly in the US and Canada have put into place legislations which are breed specific, outlawing the breeding and possession of pit bulls – some dog owners have even been told by the authorities that they are unable to keep their dog as it appears to be a Pit Bull. Although the extent to which all pit bulls have an aggressive streak remains to be known. To determine whether a dog has Pit Bull genes in their family tree, one may want to opt for a dog DNA test. An interesting article appeared in Time Magazine regarding Pit Bulls and the controversy surrounding this breed: click here to read the story.

Accuracy: A dog DNA test is able to test for the major breeds. However, if your mixed breed pooch comes from a background of several breeds then it will be difficult to determine the exact nature of the predominant breeds. This basically will almost leave you speculating about your pooch as much as before. Therefore the more pure breed dogs there are in your dog’s ancestry, then the higher the accuracy.

In conclusion

DNA testing for dogs is still in its early days, but seems to be the most advanced technology around to date for dog breed identification. Mixed breed dogs can be complex or simple, yet one of the ways to get to know your dog a little better is through purely performing a dog DNA test.

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