How To Tell What Breed A Dog Is

While some people just want to know how to tell what breed a dog is to satisfy their own curiosity, this information is incredibly useful for a number of reasons. Knowing which breed(s) a dog is can give valuable information about what to expect in the future regarding possible health concerns, behavior issues and what type of environment would be best for the dog.

The American Kennel Club recognizes 200 dog breeds. There are more than 70 breeds working toward full recognition at this time. That means there could be more than 270 different dog breeds in the near future!

Believe it or not, there are dog owners out there who don’t care about the breeds that make up their pup. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably not one of them. Knowing the breeds that make up your pet allow you to understand and prepare for common behaviors, health conditions and personality traits that your dog may exhibit.

How To Tell What Breed A Dog Is

how to tell what breed a dog isDogs come in many shapes and sizes. Thanks to decades of selective breeding, humans have turned dogs into the most diverse land animal on the planet. Breeds are most often assumed by a dog’s physical characteristics, but this isn’t an accurate assumption.

Dogs display certain characteristics based on their breed(s). These characteristics are much more than just his physical appearance.

A dog’s temperament and behavior can be influenced by breed. For example, some breeds are working dogs that have high energy levels and need a lot of structured play time. Other breeds are known for being lazier and prefer couch time over long walks through the park.

If you know the breed mix of your pup, you’ll be better able to provide the training, activities and interaction that your pet needs. This information can be especially handy to know if you’ve adopted a puppy or young dog.

It can help you understand the right type of training to use that your pooch will respond to best. This will make training faster, more effective and a lot more fun for both of you.

In my opinion, the best information that you can gather from learning about the breed(s) that make up your dog is health related information. Some dog breeds are more prone to developing certain health conditions than others.

Some breeds may have genetic mutations that result in the inability to metabolize common medications. Knowing information like this could save your dog’s life!

So, how can you tell what breed a dog is?

dog breeds mixed and purebred

1. Ask your veterinarian

Of course, you can ask for assistance from your veterinarian. Many vets partner with companies (like Wisdom Panel) to allow them to perform a blood test on your dog that will provide detailed genetic information.

2. At-home tests

I’ve actually tried one of these at-home dog DNA tests, and I was amazed at how much information that I received. You can check out my full review and the results that I was given in this video, if you’re interested.

When you picture a DNA test procedure in your mind, you probably see someone getting their cheeks swabbed. That’s exactly what at-home DNA tests for dogs are like.

You’ll get a sealed swab that you’ll need to brush inside your dog’s cheek for a few seconds. Then you’ll place the swab into a different sealed container and send it in for testing.

You will receive results back within a few weeks with detailed information about what breed(s) your dog is and the percentage of each breed. Depending on the brand of test that you choose you may also receive information about  what personality traits and physical features your dog may have and what diseases they may be genetically predisposed to.

3. Dog identification apps

Recently, there has been a burst of dog identification apps popping up on app stores for every operating system. These apps are all a bit different, but the outcome is the same.

You either take a picture of your pup or upload a photo that you already have. The apps artificial intelligence software will analyze the photo and give you a report.

As I mentioned previously, physical characteristics don’t always give clues to a dog’s exact breed make-up. For this reason, these apps may be fun to use, but the information you receive about your pup is not likely to be completely accurate.

If you’re just interested in identifying dog breeds for fun, a breed identification app will certainly be entertaining. However, if you’re looking for definitive answers about your dog’s genetic make-up, it’s best to do a blood test or cheek swab DNA test. This information is eerily accurate and will give you a lot of insight into your pet’s expected behavior and possible health risks in the future.


Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.