Unless your dog was purchased from a breeder, you may not know exactly what breed of dog you own. It’s not unusual for new pet owners to get home and then start thinking, what breed is my dog? Figuring out which breed exactly your dog is can be beneficial to you in more ways than just satisfying your natural curiosity.
Dog breed designations can be used to predict your dog’s upcoming behavior issues and educate you on some of the common health issues that he could face in the future. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and it can be very hard to distinguish between them if you don’t have a lot of experience with a large assortment of breeds.
Today, majority of dog owners know that the most popular and accurate way to find out what breed is by using dog DNA tests. But how accurate those dog DNA tests are? We have a column on the efficacy and accuracy of DNA tests for dogs. However, aside from that, there are other ways to find out what breed is your dog. Take a look below.
If you want to learn more about dog DNA tests, how they work, how effective they are and how the whole process of testing your dog's DNA looks like, I recommend you watch and read our review of Embark‘s new canine DNA testing kit using the below link. For more information, listen to our podcast interview with Embark CEO Ryan Boyko.
WATCH & READ MORE: Embark Dog DNA Test Kit Review & Testing the Kit
How to Tell What Breed Is My Dog?
Search through dog photos
Many websites offer help in determining the breed of your dog. DogBreedInfo.com and PetFinder.com are two of the most popular sites for people who are trying to figure out which breed of dog they have simply by looking at photographs of different dogs and their breeds.
Recently, VetStreet.com website have released their new tool for breed finding. See here on how this breed finder tool works and what's so good about it.
This process works really well for purebred dogs, but it can sometimes be hard to tell exactly which breeds make up a mix. If you have a mixed breed that is primarily German shepherd with one or two other breeds mixed in, he may look like a shepherd and it could be very hard to tell what other breeds make his genealogy.
Similarly, there are some mixed breeds that are made up of 10 or more breeds. It can be nearly impossible to tell their breeds just from looking at photographs. If that's the case with your Fido, then scratch this method and move onto the next one.
Get a dog professional’s opinion
Talking with professionals that have lots of experience with many different types of purebreds and mixed breeds is an excellent way to find out which breed of dog you have. Obviously your veterinarian will be of big help and this should be your first point of contact whenever you're puzzled as to what breed is my dog.
Alternatively, you can also rely on the knowledge of professional dog groomers, dog walkers, and other pet care professionals. Because these people deal with different dogs, different breeds on a daily basis, they may be able to give you a more accurate assessment of what breed of dog you have, too.
RELATED: How to Choose a Dog Breed?
Another option are animal shelters. These places also see a lot of different breeds on a regular basis, and it's their job to be able to make a call what breed of dog they've just accepted into the shelter. For second opinion, try to get some information by talking to the employees of the local Humane Society, shelter, or rescue in your area.
Think outside the box when you're looking for advice on your dog's breed. Anyone with a lot of canine experience may have some insight. You could chat with employees and pet parents at your local dog park or talk with professionals at your local pet store as well. It's important to know your dog's breed.
Associated editor at Top Dog Tips, Catherine, has written a column on how she didn't make a proper assessment of the adopted dog's breed, and thus have given her sister a wolf-dog hybrid, unintentionally. Read her awesome Wolf-dog Hybrid column here.
Dog breeds and DNA testing
If you are really concerned about finding out exactly what breed or breeds your dog is made up of, you can purchase a dog DNA test. The tests start around $60-$70, and go up from there. The biggest factor in price is how big the database of dog breeds the company/manufacturer has.
For example, the more dog DNA samples the company has in their database to test against, the more expensive their test will be, but it will also be more accurate. Therefore, if you have a mixed breed, it would be more beneficial to go with a company that has a larger database so you can receive as much information on your dog as possible.
RELATED: Canine Genetics – How to Make a Dog
All the dog DNA kits are relatively the same. They will include a cheek swab and a sealed sample packet. All you have to do is swab your dog’s cheek, place the swab in the packet, seal it, and mail it back to the address provided. The most expensive DNA tests for dogs require a blood sample, and you can only get these at certain veterinarian’s office.
The most popular dog DNA test currently is the one from Wisdom Panel. This manufacturer has the largest database and will provide the most accurate DNA result on your dog's breed that you can get today.
A good rule of thumb to remember about canine DNA testing is that the more breeds the dog is made up of, the less accurate the test will be. If your dog is only made up of one or two breeds, you can be sure the results are very accurate, but if your dog is a true mutt that is made up of many breeds, the test may not be able to accurately identify them all.
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Why should you know your dog's breed
Many canine breeds are predisposed to common health conditions. Some are more prone to developing cancer or heart conditions, while other breeds are more likely to have issues with arthritis or hip dysplasia. Certain breeds have more energy than others and some are very prone to anxiety issues.
RELATED: Should You Breed Your Dog?
While it's not vital, it's definitely advisable to find out what breed your dog is. Knowing exactly the breed or breeds of your pet can help you identify some potential health problems before they become a major issue and take preventative measures. You can also accommodate your dog's requirements for exercise and diet better, too.
For example, if you know your canine's breed is more prone to dog arthritis, you can talk with your vet about joint supplements for dogs to help prolong his joint health well in advance, and you can be on the lookout for early warning signs and respond accordingly. Knowing your dog's breed can be beneficial in many ways for both you and your canine companion.