Most of the dogs we get in foster care come in as strays and we have to guess what the dog's breed is. This is one of my favorite parts of fostering (along with the doggie kisses and wagging tails, and getting to name and give birthdates to new fosters, and getting updates on how well previous fosters are doing in their new adoptive homes). Playing the "What kind of dog is that?" game is always a fun challenge. The hard part is never knowing for sure the right answer!
But now there is a new way to find out what kind of dog you really adopted. Its been featured on the Today show, and is offered by vets all over the country, including vets in our area. It is a DNA test being offered by a company that will tell you what breeds make up your mixed-breed pet. Finally, a way to know the answer to the game! It is expensive (around $100 currently) and when I looked at the small print on the brochure, it says it has been 84% accurate in first-generation mixed breeds. They have genetic markers for many of the AKC breeds, but not all of them. And most dogs are not first-generation mixes. So for those dogs who are made up of more than two breeds, I suspect the results would be much less accurate. In fact, for an interesting perspective on the subject of DNA testing for dogs, click here: http://www.dogstardaily.com/blogs/identity-crisis. I love the comment someone added at the end -- if this DNA testing is really as inaccurate as the author suspects, it will be a great tool for owners of pitbulls and other banned breeds. They can send in their dogs DNA sample, and prove to the city that their dog is really a hound/lab mix! :-)
Of course, I'm no expert on dog breeds at all. Lately I've been spending a lot of time on this website: http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/, which gives information and pictures on many of the breeds and mixed breeds out there. I find pictures of other people's dogs who look like my foster dogs. And then I go back to the people who have years of experience in rescue, and veterinarians, and other experts and get their opinions on it. Using this process, I recently updated Selena's breed description on our website! She was originally listed as an Australian Cattledog. I also added Akita Shepherd to that list, which is a hybrid of Akita Inu and German Shepherd. Since many people search for their new dog by breed on Petfinder.com, I'm hoping her revised listing will reach more potenial adopters. Selena has been in foster care for most of her life, and she deserves her own home and family! If you want to play the game, here is a new picture of Selena -- check it out and let me know what breed you think she is!