Dogs come in a variety of forms and sizes, and many do not have pedigrees to define their breed or lineage. The physical look of dogs with unknown or mixed-breed origins is frequently used to infer their identities, however, the reliability of these visual breed assessments is unknown.
While many people are simply curious about "what kind of dog is that?" dog breed classifications have also been used to forecast future behavior, connect pets to families, locate lost dogs, and even prohibit the ownership of particular types of dogs.
How Do I Know What Breed My Dog Is? How To Identify?
There are several physical characteristics found especially in purebred dogs that can aid in determining a dog's breed. These characteristics to determine a purebreds breed include body type, height, markings, coat length, head form, tail, and ears.
Physical characteristics, unfortunately, are not usually helpful when it comes to identifying mixed breed dogs. Most people expect mixed-breed dogs to have a blend of their parent's characteristics. While in reality, mixed breed dogs may resemble both of their parents, neither of their parents or only one of their parents. In fact, all of these traits can be found in the same litter at times.
Puppies that look like mom, puppies that look like dad, puppies that look like a blend of mom and dad, and puppies with an entirely different appearance can all be seen in mixed-breed litters. This implies that recognizing the breeds that make up a mixed-breed dog isn't typically possible by just looking at it.
Just as with physical characteristics, a dog's behavior can give insight into what type of dog it is. If you heard a common dog breed such as the Basset Hound bark somewhere, you might recognize it. Dogs that have been bred for protection, such as Rottweilers tend to be protective of their families and cautious around strangers.
Following this same pattern, some other dogs are bred to be playmates or for other purposes. You might be able to get an inkling into what breed your dog is by paying attention to their behavior around you and the family. Helpful tips include:
- Sporting dogs: they are alert and active and commonly include Retrievers, Labradors, and Spaniels.
- Toy breeds: they are small-sized dogs with large personalities. They include Maltese, Affenpinscher, and Havanese.
- Herding breeds: these breeds are trainable and intelligent and with a tendency to cuddle little children. They are the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Border Collie, and Belgian Malinois.
Hounds are breeds that are full of stamina and they include the Coonhound, Beagle, and Basenji.
There are some online quizzes such as the one found at The AKC that are quite helpful in helping people determine what breed a dog is. These quizzes ask you a series of questions about your dog’s physical characteristics. They then use the answers you provide to narrow down your dog’s likely breed. However, it is important to note these quizzes work best with purebred dogs.
Dog DNA Test
Genetic testing is the most detailed testing method to determine which specific breeds are present in a mixed-breed dog. These tests operate by examining your dog's DNA, or genetic material, for sequences that are linked to specific breeds.
The majority of dog DNA is identical across breeds; for example, the DNA of a Yorkshire Terrier and a Great Dane is essentially identical. There are, however, minor variations that have been observed and linked to distinct breeds.
Thousands of samples have been studied by companies that undertake canine DNA testing, allowing them to accurately identify tiny genetic sequences associated with various breeds.
Embark Dog DNA is one of the most popular and reliable providers of dog genetic testing. This offers a convenient testing method since the kit can be used at home and without supervision from a vet. To use this kit, you are required to perform a cheek swab on your dog.
Asides from DNA testing, you can also test for genetic diseases including MDR1 drug sensitivity, dilated cardiomyopathy, glaucoma, and other common random dog health issues. Although the results are commonly returned between 2-4 weeks.
You should note, however, that the Embark test kit does not have a large database of dog breeds hence their testing might be limited. However, for the dog breeds within their database, they provide an accurate range.
Embark costs a bit more than the other testing kits available on the market. This is a cost price for the different Embark kit packages.
- Breed Identification Kit – $129
- Test Kit for Breeders – $149
- Breed + Health Kit – $199
The Wisdom Panel dog genetic test is one that is recommended and offered by several veterinarians. This test can be performed with a cheek swab or blood sample taken by the vet. The DNA sample collected from your dog is examined and compared against the known DNA sequences commonly associated with that of the specific breeds you are checking for.
The Wisdom Panel has an extensive and the largest DNA database for pets. They have as many as 21,000 samples. Furthermore, they can tell your dog's ancestry as far back as its great-grandparents. You can obtain your results around three weeks after testing as well as a breed certification for purebreds if you have one.
- Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Collection Kit – $99.99
- Wisdom Panel Premium Dog DNA Collection Kit – $159.99
The DNA dog breed Id test kit is a less expensive option for dog owners who want to get genetic testing for their dogs while on a budget. They have a database that covers several different dog breeds as many as 95 dogs.
It displays your dog's health risks and personality traits in the test result. All you need is a cheek swab for the test. Results can be obtained in two weeks. The results produced are broken down into percentages according to the different dog breeds. All you need to buy a kit is $68.48.
How Accurate Are Dog DNA Tests?
The most important factor to consider when it comes to genetic testing is that no DNA test is 100% perfect. However, the above brands claim to go as high as 95-99%. Whether it is a home-based test or performed by your vet make sure the results are reviewed carefully.
What Does A Dog DNA Reveal?
A dog's genetic testing result will display your dog's breed in percentages that are processed from a large database of unique and pure dog breeds. The tests will present information such as appearance, history, medical conditions, and temperament.
Are There Any Free Dog DNA Tests?
A Free Dog DNA Test can provide a general idea of what dog breed you own. You can get insight into your dog's history, and medical conditions with a free dog DNA test. Although, these tests tend not to be as accurate as a paid kit.
The dog key is an app that assists pet owners in identifying the breed kinds that contribute to their pet's genetic composition. The results do not guarantee the behavior or heritage of the dog. Geneticists and evolutionary biologists are attempting to decipher the dog's DNA and construct a family tree model to better understand your dog's ancestry.
- Free test
- Easy to use
- Instant results
- They do not predict temperaments or behavioral patterns
- The results are not as detailed as paid test kits
A dog scanner is a type of mobile software that can help you determine a dog's breed from a single photograph. It is a great way to discover your dog's genetics. All you need to do is take a picture of your dog and upload it to the dog scanner app.
The dog scanner scans this photo and compares it to its database to determine what breed your dog is and how to best care for them. This app has a nice feature that allows you to compare photos of your friends with pets. Based on perceived morphological traits, Dog Scanner will match each human photo to a dog breed.
It's a quick and painless way to determine a dog's breed without having to collect swabs or wait weeks for the results of a DNA dog test.
- Easy to interpret the result
- Instant results
- Completely free
- The test can be done using a mobile phone
- Limited database
- The result is not as detailed
As much as it can be easy to identify a purebred dog, it is not so easy when it comes to identifying a crossbreed dog. You can possibly determine a dog's breed by its cost type, shape, ears, head, or their general appearance. Behavioural patterns can also be used to identify some dog breeds. However, the most definite way to identify your dog's exact breed is to conduct a DNA test.