What Breed Is My Dog?

Updated: Apr 28, 2019

Lots of people adopt a dog and then wonder what mix of mutt you've got. We were one of those people.


Doberman Pinschers were developed by combining a many different breeds of dogs, as were many other breeds recognized today by American Kennel Club. So does it really matter and why do we care?


Well, knowing which breeds of dog may be in your dog's DNA could be helpful in determining the size your dog may be when fully grown. It may also be helpful to know what typical behavioral traits your dog may possess.


My husband had always like German shepherds and had owned several in the past so we were looking for a shepherd mix to add to our family. We found a dog on www.PetFinder.com that was about 8 months old and needed a new home. The dog looked like a shepherd in the face and we wanted to go meet the dog to find out if he'd be a good fit. We had some senior dogs at home and didn't want a pup to be too annoying to our older dogs.


Meeting Bruno was a pleasant surprise. He looked much larger in his photos and for a pup he was very mild mannered and calm. Seemed like a good match for our household.




Despite his "loose hip" diagnosed by the vet, he loved to run. In fact, that is how he ended up needing a new home. His owner didn't realize that a pup was still growing into his joints and she would run him miles as she jogged. She wanted a dog to run with her for protection. Since we already had an old dog with hip dysplasia, we felt we were prepared to take on another with the potential for future hip issues.


Bruno was a smart and agreeable dog. He was a good boy and didn't bother our old dogs, but he was still a puppy and did like to chew, especially on wood trim. We got him interested in thick sticks in the yard which we would throw for him to fetch. He was clumsy and not very agile, but to help prevent indoor destructiveness, we liked to tire him out.


He is very smart and easily passed his basic puppy training class with flying colors. So much so, the instructor asked us to bring him back to show him as an example in class and to use him to help other dogs train against distractions.


Now that Bruno was home, and growing each day, we were curious as to what breeds he was. There were several dog DNA companies to choose from and we chose a company called Embark (https://embarkvet.com). Much to our surprise, these were the results we received on Bruno.


As you can see, a herding dog is shown as the main DNA percentage. He does have some of those tendencies, such as grabbing the heels and feet of other dogs and herding them. He will play fetch and bring things back to us (retriever?). The "super mutt" classification above was said to be comprised of Rottweiler, Russell-type terrier and German shepherd dog in Bruno's case. That classification is supposed to be a catch for those breeds which were a mixture of several other breeds. I wonder why the Doberman DNA didn't fall into that category.


His predicted weight was 71 lbs. but he is much larger than that. He isn't overweight, he's is just a larger dog than the DNA results suggested. We figured there would be some flat coated collie in him, but not a small Shetland sheepdog. Perhaps the larger collies went into making the Shetland sheepdogs.


Did knowing which breeds made up his DNA make any difference to us? Not really. Would I do it over again? Probably not as it was very expensive.


I can see how a breeder would be more interested in this type of test as Embark also tested for many common diseases which would be valuable information for a breeder to know when choosing which specimens to breed. While Bruno's genetic disease testing came back clear on all of the tests, had some of them came back with possibilities, it would have been good to know. I would then have been informed and could look for symptoms as to the onset of a genetic illness, or could have begun proactive treatments to lessen the severity, if possible, or delay the onset.


I hope this information will be helpful to someone considering making this kind of investment for their pet.

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