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Dog DNA test?

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  • Dog DNA test?

    We adopted a fantastic dog from a local rescue a few weeks ago. She's settling in well, and is the best dog we could have asked for, smart and a quick learner, a love bug, and absolutely adorable

    Because of being so friendly and adorable, when we go places, even just out on walks, people are constantly asking "what kind of dog is that?" It's a good question, because I have no idea. She's about 20lbs and around 12" at the wither, a little longer than she is tall. The rescue advertized her as "fox terrier mix" which is certainly possible. The vet seemed to think there was some Australian Kelpie in there, which also seems plausible from pictures and descriptions. My pet theory, since we have yet to hear her bark in the entire time we've had her, is part basenji. Visually, I can see a case for any or all of the above, or certainly even something else entirely. Any guesses?

    So both to sate my curiosity and have a better answer than "rescue mutt" (which I rather like, frankly), I've contemplated getting one of those dog DNA tests that supposedly can tell you what's in the woodpile. While it doesn't seem expensive for the technology involved, it does seem rather pricey merely to satisfy my curiosity. Has anyone tried them, and if so, what did you think? Anyone think they're a waste for time and money? Other thoughts?
    A Year In the Saddle

  • #2
    Maybe the technology has advanced, but I knew someone a few years ago who had her impeccably pedigreed German Shorthair Pointer done for giggles... Apparently she was showing & breeding a lab/ACD mix.

    I just don't think they're worth the money and educated guesses are free. I see basenji/rat terrier.
    bar.ka think u al.l. susp.ect
    free bar.ka and tidy rabbit


    • #3
      She's what I call an DCAAD - Danged Cute All-American Dog.

      This is what I think about dog DNA tests: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a4CDvK868w The video cracks me up every time! And the dog is adorable.
      Don't tell me about what you can't do. That's boring. Show me what you can do. - Mom


      • #4
        She's adorable, is what she is. I agree with the other. Don't waste your money; at this point I don't think the tests are accurate.


        • #5
          I'm likin' rat terrier mix, if you don't just stick with "rescue mutt" which is 100% correct and a great answer!
          If thou hast a sorrow, tell it not to the arrow, tell it to thy saddlebow, and ride on, singing. -- King Alfred the Great


          • #6
            Don't bother. Everyone I've talked to lately who fell for those has gotten inaccurate or scatter-brained results.
            Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!


            • Original Poster

              Wow, definitely thinking we have a large percentage of Rat Terrier going on! I'm surprised it hadn't been suggested before, because other than the tail, she quite looks the part.

              Sounds like I'm better off saving the money for the DNA test and spending it on a riding lesson instead
              A Year In the Saddle


              • #8
                I had one done on my rescue mutt, because we had a little extra money at the time, and thought it would be entertaining if nothing else. This was 2+ years ago.

                She was advertised by the shelter as a boxer x, which is what she looks like. About 40lb, black w/a lot of white, HUGE underbite which became a lot more pronounced when she got her adult teeth. I thought for sure the test would say she is a boxer with at least some german short haired pointer, because on her white there are a lot of blacl spots.

                The test came back saying one parent is a full boxer, the other half is so diluted that there were no results for that half. This particular test ($140, and i can't remember the name) tested for full breed up to the grandparents generation. The "unknown" side could be mostly one/two breeds for all we know, they're not "full blooded". She came to us semi-feral (i'd say mostly feral), terrified of people (but not head/kick shy) so i think she must have grown up on the street and may have "run with the samw pack", which may have resulted in her pronounced features.
                I understand why so many people are skeptical, i really do, but i would love to do it again with our younger rescue too. I was dissapointed by my lack of confirmation, but at the same time the boxer is so pronounced in her, that i trust that. You just have to read the fine print.

                It's science, noting is 100%. Maybe a good thread on here should be the most reliable DNA testing company.
                Last edited by veetiepony; Feb. 11, 2013, 05:00 PM. Reason: Clarification


                • #9
                  The problem with DNA testing is even if you have a large pool of DNA accrued (i.e lots of terrier, lots of labs out there, etc) when you draw from DNA the DNA of a hound/cur could be very similar to the DNA of a lab - just because, at one point, they came from the same dog. I would not say the DNA tests are 100% inaccurate - they are based on a very small collective pool of dogs - so sometimes, when there is no pool to draw from, they go from the "next closest" cousin - which may NOT be the most recent contributor to your dog's heritage. In addition to a small pool of various breeds, they don't have a lot of DNA for one specific breed - I.E, GSD -- there may be only one DNA sample of a GSD and some GSDs are very different DNA-wise from others. If there isn't a lot of variants of a specific breed to draw from, it really doesn't help identify exact breeds. Just because they have nearly every breed in their DNA pool doesn't mean they have every variant of DNA of every breed. They may find there is a GSD in your dog and you're confused but the GSD could have been many many generations ago but IS the only identifiable breed.

                  My close friend has done two at my pressing (I paid for one) -- just for giggles. We certainly knew where the dog came from, but wanted to see if there was something else "in there". The results: our loveable mutt was apparently a lab/catahoula/pitbull. We knew about the catahoula -- and definitely knew about the pitbull. Could see the lab. The second time the test came back and it was lab/pitbull. So no, they are not always accurate - but you have to remember it is a lot of parsing to do and there may be traces of other dogs in your dogs' lineage that come up first even though they may not be prevalent to your dog: for instance, my friend's dog pulling a "lab". Do I believe it could have lab in it, at some point? Absolutely. Does it look like it has lab? Not really.

                  I wouldn't throw it out the window just because its' not always 100%. It is only 25$ - and who knows? Maybe it can help you understand your dogs' nature a little better.

                  P.S, definitely see the Basenji - it's that curly tail! Not so sure about the rat terrier - maybe a harrier or a small foxhound?!
                  AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                    I wouldn't throw it out the window just because its' not always 100%. It is only 25$ - and who knows? Maybe it can help you understand your dogs' nature a little better.
                    Where did you have it done for $25? I've only seen them in the $60-75 or more range. I'd be a lot more willing to shell out $25 for laughs than triple that!
                    A Year In the Saddle


                    • #11
                      Purebreds are a relatively recent invention, and all purebreds are descended from mutts. However, most mutts are not descended from purebreds. Some estimates are that about 50% of the dogs in the US are mutts, with no purebreds in their ancestry at all.
                      The DNA tests are very accurate in identifying a purebred parent or grandparent in the background of the rare dog who is an actual mix of purebreds. The Wisdom panel in particular has been proven, published in the scientific literature, to be quite accurate in performing this task.
                      The "giggles" about submitting purebreds and getting odd results are because the panel isn't calibrated for purebreds- they have another one for purebreds.
                      The DNA tests are far more accurate than visual guesses- visual guesses about breed(s) in your dog are usually wrong, which is why most people think the DNA tests give weird results. Most people mis-interpret the results as well-as mentioned above, most "mixed breed" dogs are actually mutts, namely they have no purebreds in their ancestry at all. So most commonly you'll get a lengthy list of "possible contributors" which is basically meaningless because all it means is your dog is a mutt. However, if your dog actually happens to be a cross-bred between two purebreds, the results will state that, and are extremely reliable.
                      So if your dog happens to have a purebred parent or grandparent, the DNA test will tell you that. However, odds are your dog does not have any purebreds in its recent ancestry and thus the test will a) tell you that by not identifying a purebred in the background, and b) it will instead give you a lengthy list of "possible contributors", which is properly interpreted to mean your dog is a mutt.
                      There's really no practical reason to DNA test your mutt. It will probably just confirm the dog is a mutt.
                      I personally sent the same sample of DNA from a dog who was known to be 50% purebred (mother known) to several of the "cheap" places and also to the Wisdom panel place, and all of them accurately identified the purebred parent present in the dog- they varied a bit in their list of "Possible contributors" in the father, whom I am quite sure was a purebred mutt, for generations back.


                      • #12
                        I had a breeder sell us a puppy with akc papers as a mini schnauzer. He was pinto! Big black and white splotches, and long floppy ears with wavy hair on them. I SWORE up and down to my boss that this puppy was a cocker spaniel or a cocker mix. We ran the dna test- came back 100% schnauzer. I guess he was a fuugly mini schnauzer, but I've never quite trusted those test since. I really wish they would get a test developed for horses-i've two with unknown breeding that I like to speculate about.
                        ~Former Pet Store Manager (10yrs)
                        ~Vintage Toy Dealer (rememberswhen.us)
                        ~Vet Tech Student
                        Mom to : 2 Horses, 4 Dogs, 2 Cats


                        • #13
                          I've always suspected that the genetic consistency of the breed lines affects the outcome of these tests. Breeds like the Gordon Setter, Scottish Deerhound, and Boston Terrier have been tracked by the AKC since the 1880's. Assuming the breeders didn't screw up and then blatantly lie about it, I wouldn't expect recent beagle genes in a Boston terrier, for example. In contrast, a lot of the working and hunting breeds weren't recognized until quite recently. Registration (or the lack) might not make a difference for a meticulously maintained line such as some of the foxhounds, but I'm not as confident about the consistency of some of the other breeds, like catahoulas.


                          • #14
                            I wouldn't waste my money on one. It's fun, but I wouldn't say accurate.
                            We rescued a (supposed) chocolate lab x german shepherd mix, got him (sight unseen, an ASPCA worker drove out to get the litter and drove back with them). He's definitely not a lab x shepherd, but we DNA tested just for kicks and giggles. Came back 25% french bulldog and 12% Rottweiler with the rest unknown. He's an absolute darling so it doesn't matter to us, but I don't think that the DNA tests are very accurate.
                            Here's a picture of him (all 80 pounds):