Q: I visited a shelter looking for a Lab-shepherd mix. I was frustrated because the tags on the kennel doors no longer specified each dog’s breed heritage.
Instead, the tags described the dog’s personality, activity level and interactions with other dogs. With that information, I found a dog I love. But why the change?
A: Now that DNA testing can determine a dog’s genetic makeup, it’s become clear that people aren’t very good at recognizing a dog’s ancestry by observing physical characteristics and behavior.
Research shows that when shelter professionals state an opinion about a mixed-breed dog’s predominant breed, they are wrong 90 percent of the time. Veterinarians and other dog experts fare no better.
Knowing a purebred dog’s ancestry may help predict the dog’s health and behavior, but predictive accuracy declines as additional breeds are added to the mix.
What’s more important is the dog’s personality, because that’s what you’ll love about your new family member.
Editor’s Note: Mixed breed dogs are the unsung heroes of the canine world and many are languishing in shelters. Find out more about why mixed breed dogs make good pets.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.