Breakthrough News On Dog Breed Testing – It Doesn’t Work!

DNA testing to identify a dog’s breed has been promoted for a few years now.

Now in a new study a bunch of clever Veterinarians decided to submit a few samples of dogs with known ancestry to see if the test is any good:

‘The final dog we tested was Laika. Her owner, Dr. Maureen Roberts, is a veterinarian in California who tested Laika in 2007 when Canine Heritage first became available. We repeated that test to see if the results would be consistent, and to compare the results with Wisdom Panel’s. Here’s what we got: 

2007: Canine Heritage reported Chinese shar-pei, Akita, Siberian husky and border collie as secondary breeds. 

2012: Canine Heritage reported Siberian husky as a secondary breed, with border collie and Bernese mountain dog “in the mix.” 

2012: Wisdom Panel determined Laika to be half Siberian husky and a melange of other breeds, possibly bull terrier, shiba inu, basenji, dachshund and greyhound. 

Roberts found the results no more informative than her own guess about Laika’s lineage. 

“Based on looking at Laika, I know she is a husky mix, but I don’t know what she is mixed with,” Roberts said. Of the possible breeds named in the three tests, the only one she finds believable is border collie. 

From her experience, Roberts would not recommend DNA testing to determine breed. “I don’t think the test really tells us anything more than we can tell just by looking at the dog and making a guess,” she said. “Since I got different results even with the same company, it makes me pretty skeptical.” 

So it appears that the test is passable at determining the dominant breed that makes up a dog. But most Vets can do that just by looking at a dog anyway. When the breeds are really mixed up, the test appears unreliable and will give non-repeatable results.

This is not surprising, really. There is no gene that codes for a ‘breed’. A breed is a collection of subtle characteristics which are highly subjective in the eye of the observer.

By the way, none of the DNA companies would test for Pit Bull. I suppose they just don’t want to be sued. You can’t blame them.

About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim is a house call Veterinarian in Melbourne

2 comments

  1. Debbie Nicholas

    Our boy of unknown parentage looks like a really big dachshund. Long body, very short legs with knobby knees, barrel chest and same kind of tail and short coat as a doxie, but he’s big enough to be slim at 50 lbs. His test came back as mostly poodle. Yeah, right.

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