dog breed testing

The Junebug Mystery Solved!

Thanks, everyone, for playing guess Junebug’s breeds. And huge thanks to Cathy for inviting me to host it. As I said, Junebug is a bit of a Popeye dog. Definitely living up to her looks.

Junebug7Before I got the results I expected her to have golden retriever, husky, and collie or sheltie. I also think the way she paddles around in the water must be what duck tollers do (though I’ve never seen that).

Here’s what the DNA test said—her silky golden fur and friendly nature have many people guessing (correctly) that she’s part golden retriever. Her pointy nose, watchful nature and loyalty is all collie. Her outdoorsy tendency, her black stripe, and her independence comes, as Nick guessed, from her husky ancestor. She also has a bit of Labrador retriever, which I think accounts for her wedge-shaped ears and pink nose and her love of water and balls, though that is tempered as I mentioned. Her wildcard, though, was completely unexpected. It is another sporty/athletic dog—the German short-haired pointer. I do see a few spots on her white paws (though that could be from the collie), and I’m told that GSPs are the best all-round athletes and hunters. I think that’s where the pointy head comes from, too.

Looks as if the winner is Johanna with three correct—golden, collie, and husky. Thanks again! October is adopt a rescue month. Junebug is a poster girl for that!

Guess the Breed!

Hello again!

It’s nice to be back among dog lovers. Thanks, Cathy, for asking me to talk about one of my favourite subjects again.

Junebug5Earlier this year, I saw a Facebook post by the company DNA My Dog. They were offering free DNA tests because they were looking for subjects who could be used in a demo reel to pitch the idea for a new TV show to various networks. As I understand it, the program would feature a dog trainer who tailored lessons based on issues that were breed specific. Easy enough to identify problems when you know the breeds in your dog, but harder if you didn’t, which is why the DNA test was crucial.

I’ve always thought having a DNA test to determine Junebug’s genetic makeup would be fun and novel. However, I wasn’t sure how relevant the results would be. After all, Junebug was a true Heinz 57 street dog. She was a rescue from a small blue-collar town in rural Quebec. I was told there were few vets in the town, and unfixed strays roamed everywhere. In all likelihood, not even her great-grandparents had had a pampered life inside a dog-loving home. So the chance of her having a purebred in her recent past was pretty slim. I was also told that more often than not if the dogs became problematic or the population grew too big, culls were the default solution. Fortunately, Junebug, instead of being killed, was one of a group of dogs that was rounded up and sent to Toronto to be adopted.

Junebug4The Facebook post seemed like a perfect opportunity, especially since the DNA My Dog office is about ten minutes from my home. I emailed the company right away, giving a little history about my girl. After about five minutes, I decided to send along a photo as well because, well, she’s very photogenic—who could resist her? Sure enough, I got a response within ten minutes. We were in.

The company mailed me the test, and I used the cheek swabs on the ’Bug before returning them. Then on a sunny weekday, Junebug put on her best ears, and we headed to the office for the reveal. There were two dogs in the office before us and two waiting to go in after. All of them looked to have either lab or shepherd in their makeup. Plus, there was a large, wheezy bulldog acting as the company mascot. (Wheezing so much that the audio guy could pick it up. Poor man. I know enough about TV and audio to know that must have been frustrating.) We did our bit and got our results. No huge surprises, but one small unexpected one. June’s apparently a Popeye dog—she is what she is.Junebug6

Still, Cathy and I thought it would be fun to hold a “guess Junebug’s breeds” contest. The prize will be two dozen homemade treats (one dozen for dogs; one dozen for humans).

She has four Level 4 breeds and one Level 5. The Level 4s represent 10-20% of breed DNA and the Level 5, 9% or less.

Junebug3To help you out, here are some clues:

  • Three of her breeds can be found in the CKC sporting group. One comes from the herding group and one from the working group.
  • Her fur is long and silky and super soft. She’s single coated.
  • She weighs 57 pounds and stands 24 inches tall. So she’s medium sized. Under all that fur she’s not that big. However lack of maternal nutrition as well as little nutrition when she was a puppy might have affected her size.
  • She has a black streak of coarse hair down her back.
  • Her ears flop down in a wedge shape.
  • She’s not athletic but is very outdoorsy. If she could stay outside 24/7/365, she would. Rain and snow are two of her favourite things.
  • She moves fastest when hunting. She uses all her senses when she’s hunting—sight, hearing, and smell without any real preference.
  • She likes to wrestle with other dogs and prefers that to playing with balls or sticks, though she will chase them on occasion.
  • She loves to play in the water but doesn’t really swim.
  • She’s very talkative and extremely affectionate, cuddly and friendly. She’s also very independent in her thinking. No blind obedience here.
  • Her toes are not webbed, and she has a very pointy occipital bone.
  • She has a really long body and neck.

Good luck!

Contest: Guess Hogan’s Breed(s)!

It’s breed-guessing contest time again!

I must admit I’m a little surprised to find myself almost as shocked by Hogan’s breeds as I was by Dusty’s.

2012 March 24_dog park (5) (877x1024)We chose to use a different brand of DNA test for Hogan because we really thought he’d have Cairn, Norwich, or Australian terrier in there somewhere (spoiler alert: we were wrong!), and DNA My Dog doesn’t test for any of those breeds. So we opted for Wisdom Panel, purchased the test kit at a PetSmart store across the border, did the cheek swab, stuck on the Canadian stamps, and mailed the works to the testing centre in Nebraska.

While DNA My Dog guarantees results in five to ten days from receipt of the package, Wisdom Panel’s results took precisely two weeks from arrival—and the arrival itself took two weeks! (I know because I received notification of it.) After the speedy service we got with DNA My Dog, waiting four weeks for Hogan’s results seemed a little long.

Nevertheless, his results were worth the wait!

And that leads me to a tangent…. Some people have asked why I have bothered to do these tests. What do our dogs’ breeds matter? Frankly, they don’t. If they did, we would have scanned for a particular breed of dog instead of falling prey to the first set of sad eyes (Cora’s) that looked fearfully up at us that long ago day in PetSmart. But the DNA tests aren’t expensive, so why not find out their breeds?

DSC_9876 (680x1024)Before getting the test results, that was the extent of my explanation. However, interestingly, being able to read up on our dogs’ primary breeds has made me feel I know each of them better and understand them better. I hadn’t expected that. The knowledge hasn’t made me love any one of them more (not possible!) nor less (also not possible!), but it’s helped me come to terms with certain things. For example, reading that almost all of the breeds that are in Dusty are prone to hip dysplasia made me realize that his diagnosis with it at age one and a bit was virtually inevitable. And that Cora is more than 80% beagle suggests to me we were right in our guess that she was used for breeding.

I only just received Hogan’s test results, so I haven’t done all of the research on his breeds yet, but I do look forward to getting to understand our little guy more, too!

Now it’s time for you to guess Hogan’s breeds! Any idea where that cute curly tail, those modelesque good looks, those top-of-the-class smarts, or that big-dog attitude come from?

Here’s what I’ll tell you: It turns out that one of Hogan’s parents was a purebred from way back (his great-grandparents, too!). His other parent, though, came from a long line of “sleep-around Sues.” That parent had traces of six different breeds! Scandalous!

Hogan in his sweaterI will pick one contest winner (through a draw if there is more than one correct guess). All you have to do is guess either (1) Hogan’s “pure breed” side or (2) guess two of his other breeds (two because I think his 5.48% breed is obvious despite its small percentage). The winner will get a choice of prize: a custom hand-knit dog sweater, like the one below, or a cash donation to the animal charity of his or her choice.

Just post your guess in the comments below or, if you’re shy or want to keep your guess secret, email it to me at by Tuesday, February 5, at noon. I’ll announce the winner—and reveal Hogan’s breeds—later that day. Good luck, everyone, and thanks for participating!