Do you have a mixed breed dog or a dog you just recently rescued, and you are not sure what they may be?
There are many ways to help determine what breed your dog is. They include getting a dog DNA test done, asking your veterinarian, researching breed resources online, and observing your dog’s physical characteristics.
In this article, we will walk you through how to decipher what kind of dog your dog may be.
How to Determine What Breed Your Dog Is
It is impossible to entirely conclude what your dog’s breed is without professional advice or genetic testing.
Perhaps a good starting point is to familiarize yourself with some of the most popular and common dog breeds.
Most Popular Dog Breeds
According to the AKC (American Kennel Club), the top 20 most popular dog breeds in 2021:
- Labrador retrievers
- French Bulldogs
- Golden Retrievers
- German Shepherd Dogs
- German shorthaired pointers
- Pembroke Welsh Corgis
- Australian Shepherds
- Yorkshire Terriers
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Doberman Pinschers
- Great Danes
- Miniature Schnauzers
- Siberian Huskies
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
Common dog breeds that most people typically will encounter in their lives include:
- Australian Shepherds
- Border Collies
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Great Danes
- Pit Bulls
- Labrador Retrievers
Keep reading as we are going to provide you with some practical ideas on how to make an educated guess of your dog’s breed or if they are a mixed breed.
If you have a mixed-breed dog, the question may resonate with you and even bother you. What breed is my dog?
This article will give you a little insight into the key traits of each breed of dog and how to come to a conclusion to put your mind at rest.
Not only is it a good idea to know what breed your dog is “just for fun,” but it may play an essential role in guarding your dog against potential health problems.
Different breeds are prone to different health issues so knowing what health problems inherently come with different breeds is important for dog owners.
Ways to Determine Your Dog’s Breed
There are a couple of different ways you can identify a dog breed even without the help of genetic testing.
- Take into consideration your dog’s physical attributes like their ear shape and if they are high-set or low-set.
Look at its coat length and color, eye shape and color, what your dog’s tail is like and how it is set, and even the size and length of your dog’s legs.
- You may be surprised to know that your dog’s personality can even help with breed identification!
Another great idea is to study each breed of dog or any breeds that you think your dog may potentially be! This will help you learn the differences in each breed and its characteristics.
Gather All Information About Your Dog
Any information you can obtain about your new dog will help with the identification process.
Some ideas for gathering information include talking with the person you adopted from, agency, organization, or rescue.
You can even ask your vet’s opinion about what type of dog they think you may have.
Your vet knows dogs inside and out, so they will be able to give an excellent recommendation as to what breed or breeds they think you may have.
Your Dog’s Physical Traits Can Help with Breed Identification
A purebred dog can generally be identified by its physical traits and breed standards.
Study body conformation (the way your dog is built), their height, coat type and length, the markings on their coat, head shape, ear shape and set, and the way they carry their tail.
Sometimes even the way your dog moves can provide clues as to their breed. Specific breeds all have different physical attributes that can help identify them.
As an example, I will describe a German Shepherd.
They are large dogs with black and tan coats, usually exhibiting a sloping back, high-set ears, a long, low-set tail, and a long snout. Most people would easily be able to identify this breed.
Although most breeds can be identified by looks, a mixed breed dog cannot be determined solely by looks alone.
Your dog’s appearance may be a combination of the mother and father, although they may look more like one parent over the other.
Your Dog’s Behavior Can Help Identify Their Breed
All dog lovers know one thing for sure. Different breeds of dogs act differently!
From energy levels to friendliness, and playfulness, yes, even your dog’s behavior can be an excellent breed identification tool.
Different levels of vocalization can also give you clues about your dog’s breed.
Pet parents of Beagles, for instance, will tell you that these dogs frequently, if not constantly, make very specific “baying” sounds.
Dogs that are bred for tasks like herding can be witnessed herding animals or even small children. These breeds include the Border Collie and Australian Cattle dog.
Whereas protective breeds such as Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, and Dobermans tend to be on the quieter, more cautious side.
Taking into consideration your dog’s personality traits may help point you in the right direction towards what breed they are.
Be advised, though, that neither looks nor behavior can give you a definitive answer about what kind of dog you own.
It would be best if you kept in mind that each dog is unique, so while you may have one specific breed of dog, they may not act the same way that breed characteristically acts.
Use identifying behavior in correlation with physical traits and even the DNA test or dog scanner app for the best results.
What is a Dog Scanner App?
In the highly technologically advanced world, we live in, there are many dog scanning apps for your smartphone that you can use to help identify your dog’s breed.
It allows you to see photos of other users’ dogs for comparison and even upload a picture of your dog.
These apps have a detailed database and images of all dog breeds in order to compare and contrast your dog with other breeds.
They may even ask you a series of questions to help point you in the right direction for guessing your dog’s breed.
These apps show the best results for purebred dogs and may help you to identify a rare breed.
But for a dog with a mix of breeds in their lineage, it may be more difficult for the artificial intelligence used in the apps to make a guess.
Have a Dog DNA Test Performed
By far, the most accurate way to figure out the genetic makeup of your dog with mixed breeding will be by utilizing a DNA test.
This ensures a higher accuracy of determination versus using your own results based on research. These tests are far more accurate than any other option for determining a breed.
DNA testing kits look at the genetic makeup of your type of dog and look for genetic anomalies and known genetic markers or traits for each breed.
All dogs have similar genetic material in their DNA.
For example, a Mastiff and a cocker spaniel’s DNA is practically identical, but there are minuscule differences that are able to be identified as belonging to each different breed.
These differences give your dog the specific traits and attributes that they have in accordance with whatever breed they are.
Your dog’s canine DNA test results will be able to pinpoint these markers and cue you in on what breeds are in their lineage.
Companies that perform these expensive DNA tests have performed hundreds of thousands of tests on different dog breeds.
They have a comprehensive database to help identify your pup’s breed with these dog breed designations found during the testing.
Wisdom Panel and EMBARK are among the most popular choices for testing puppies or adult dogs.
The Wisdom Panel or EMBARK test can be performed by veterinarian geneticists with either a blood sample or a cheek swab.
The geneticists are also true dog experts and can make sure that the results for your rescue dog or mixed-breed dog are accurate.
Both of these companies even make tests you can perform at home.
Are Dog DNA Tests Worth The Cost?
You may be wondering if a DNA test is a good investment and if they are truly reliable. In short, they are extremely reliable.
Genetic testing for dogs has not been around for a very long time though. In fact, it was only introduced in 2007!
Many geneticists looked at tests at this time and felt that they did not always make a lot of sense.
For instance, there were large dogs who were supposedly 50% toy breed. Or it seemed as if certain stray dogs had some of the rarest lineages of all dogs.
These results didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Are Dog DNA Tests Accurate?
DNA tests for dogs are not 100% accurate. No genetic test is ever going to be 100% accurate, but they can be extremely close.
Most tests are over 95% accurate. You need to take that into consideration when considering if you want a test done and if it would be a good investment for your situation or not.
Thankfully, these tests have become extremely reliable and accurate as they have continued to develop and improve testing methods and conditions.
The best advice I can give you is to very carefully review your test and get help understanding the results if you don’t understand them.
What is The Fetch! App?
There is a new app on the market that is widely popular on social media channels called Fetch!
Fetch utilizes artificial intelligence to scan and analyze a picture that you upload of your dog to identify its breed.
It was released through Microsoft Garage and is currently available for free to download in the app store. You can also find it on What-Dog.net. This is not a recommendation of this app.
The app will even help you take a great picture of your dog by playing noises to get your dog’s attention when you are in the “camera” mode.
Next, you take your picture or select another picture you already have of your dog and upload it so that it can be analyzed.
Related Dog Breed Questions
How much do dog DNA tests cost?
DNA testing kits for your pooch can range from $75 all the way up to a few hundred dollars.
They can be a very good investment for breeders, people curious about their dogs, and those who are looking to be cautious of the health and behavioral tendencies of their breed.
I like to consider the cost to be an investment in my dog. DNA my dog test
Do shelters provide testing for the dog you adopt?
This is entirely dependent on the shelter. Some shelters do DNA test the dogs so that they can accurately pair them with the right home and also for legal reasonings too.
In some states, certain dogs require particular ownership or have rules/ regulations in place for the specific breed.
The best way to find out if your shelter or a shelter you are considering does DNA testing is to call and ask.
One of the shelter staff would be happy to answer any questions you may have and even help you get lined up with the perfect pup.
Some shelters make breed identification based on looks alone, but this is not an extremely accurate way of selecting the dog’s breed.
Many owners of adopted dogs have said that they were told they had a certain breed and, upon further investigation and after performing a DNA test turned out to be something different.
Why Does It Matter What Breed My Dog Is?
The truth is most dogs are mixed breeds and it just does not matter what specific breed they are. All dogs can make lovable additions to your home.
Determining your dog’s breed is not the simplest task to do. If you don’t have a genetic test performed there is no absolute guarantee that you will figure out what breed they are.
But, the process can be really fun! You can take time to learn about different breeds and think about what kind of dog you have.
It can be a fun whole family adventure to figure out what type of dog you may have. I wish you the best of luck determining what kind of dog you have!
I hope this article has been helpful in finding out what breed of dog you have!