How can I identify my dogs breed or mix?

Having a mixed breed dog can be great. Over time, though, you might start to wonder exactly what breeds are part of your dog’s genetic makeup. There are a number of different ways you can figure out your dog’s breed, but the most common involve taking some time to look at both your dog’s physical characteristics and your dog’s behaviors before looking into paying for any kind of genetic testing.

Pay Attention to Looks

The most common way to figure out what your cross-bred pup’s ancestry is requires taking some time to closely look at his or her features. In some cases, of course, this is going to be quite easy; there’s nothing like a pug’s snout or a dachshund’s back to tell you exactly from where your dog hails. In other cases, though, you’re going to have to do some careful detective work to figure out what kind of parentage your dog may have.

While your dogs might lack some of the tell-tale features of popular breeds, most dogs do have features that will allow you to at least narrow down their parentage. The shape of a dog’s skull, for example, can allow you to narrow down the potential breed to a number of different types of dogs, while even the length of your dog’s tail can play a role in helping you to weed out certain possibilities.

Your dog’s coat is also a great clue as to where his or her heritage lies. The coloration of your dog can give you certain clues, of course, but so can the type of coat that he or she has. Wiry coats, glossy coats, and even fuzzy coats are all associated with specific breeds, and pairing them with certain color patterns can help you to further narrow down where your dog comes from.

Finally, there are the physical traits that tend to signify only a small group of dogs. Not all dogs are prone to heterochromia, for example, so noting that your dog has two differently colored eyes can actually help you to narrow down one one of his or her parents to one of less than a dozen breeds. Likewise, webbed paws or an oddly-colored tongue can greatly narrow down the field of potential bloodlines from which your dog may hail.

Looking at Behaviors

It’s not just the physical characteristics that matter when trying to figure out your dog’s breed. In many cases, you can turn to behavior to give you certain clues. Dogs have long been bred to exhibit certain valuable behaviors and even certain problematic behaviors can be the sign of certain types of breeding. If you can pay attention to how your dog plays and acts, you can start to gather up some clues.

One specifically useful trait to look for is whether or not your dog likes to be in the water. While many dog breeds tend to have at least an ambivalent relationship with the wet stuff, there are certain breeds that do tend to love to play in the water. Newfoundlands and various retrievers, for example, tend to have an affinity for water that is unmatched by other dogs. If your dog exhibits certain behaviors that are rare among most breeds, you can usually chalk it up to the dog having at least some shared ancestry with other dogs who exhibit those behaviors.

Considering a Test

Technically speaking, the only real way to be sure of your dog’s breed is to get a DNA test done. While veterinarians tend to be a little skittish about recommending these tests for their medical value, the tests do a fantastic job of helping to determine a dog’s breed. These tests do get rid of all the detective work that’s been discussed above, giving you an accurate result in a short amount of time.

It should be noted that there are tests that can be done by your doctor and that these tests tend to be more medically accurate than those you can get from kits. If you are simply looking for breed information, though, these kits can tell you what you need to know with relatively little fuss.

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