October 26, 2014 – 01:16 pm

Study finds that guessing a dog’s breed is usually wrong, which can have big implications for pit bull mixes

By Micaela Myers

Can you tell a “pit bull” from a Lab-mix? How about from a boxer/shepherd or even a poodle-mix? A recent study that compared DNA analysis with people’s best guesses showed that people who are considered expert in the world of dogs were often way off the mark.

While some of these misidentifications can seem quite amusing at first, it’s a serious matter for dogs who are caught up in the world of breed bans, where mistaking a dog for a pit bull or other regulated breed can be a death sentence for the dog. Hundreds of cities, plus Marine Corps and Army bases, apartment complexes and homeowners’ associations have banned or restricted pit bull type dogs and a number of other breeds. Many shelters won’t even place supposed pit bull mixes up for adoption but instead kill them automatically.
As puppies, Cernun and his littermates were labeled as pit bulls by shelter personnel. DNA test results showed Cernun to be a Bull Mastiff and Boxer mix. © 2010 Jennifer Petit

Victoria Lea Voith, Ph.D., DVM, DACVB, professor of Animal Behavior at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the Western University of Health Science, researches breed identification. One of her recent studies looked at dogs of unknown parentage acquired from adoption agencies. She compared the results of DNA breed analysis to the breeds assigned to the dogs at the time of their adoption. The vast majority of dogs tested were not the breeds people thought they were.

Dr. Voith’s latest study involved showing approximately 1, 000 people who are considered experts in the dog world – from veterinarians to breeders to animal control officers – videotapes of DNA-analyzed dogs and asking these experts to visually identify each dog’s breed. Dr. Voith is still analyzing the results, but she says that participants reported being shocked by how difficult it was for them to accurately identify the breeds.

If you’re still skeptical, Dr. Voith points to the book Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog by John Paul Scott and John L. Fuller as an example of the complexity of canine genetics. The book shows that mixed-breed puppies often look nothing like their parents or grandparents.


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Look it up.

They publish the statistics every year. And if you haven't noticed, the list the dogs by breed like Doberman, Rottweiler, Akita, Boxer, etc. They do that with every dog except the American Staffordshire Terrier. They list a breed called "Pit Bull" which isn't even a breed. Pit Bull refers to any mixture of Bulldog and Terrier. It doesn't matter if it has mastiff, Doberman, Shih Tzu or Corgi mixed in as long as it has Bulldog and Terrier in the make-up also. If it does, then it is considered a "Pit Bull". You wouldn't call a Golden Retriever/Doberman a Golden Retriever would you? No. You would call it a mutt

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  • Avatar g_fox555 What kind of dog is this?
    Dec 27, 2010 by g_fox555 | Posted in Dogs

    Saw this dog on Dog Whisperer the other day. Would LOVE to know what breed it is. Thanks for any help! …d near another dog that was an Akita). didn't mean 3 feet. haha. Not sure what I was thinking. It wasp probably knee high.

    Have no clue why I typed that. oops. =D I am leaning towards IG.

    • It looks like a rare dog breed.

      It might be a Minister Pinscher / Italian Greyhound mix but I'm not sure.

  • Avatar James Is a Japanese Akita the Right Breed of Dog for Me?
    May 06, 2013 by James | Posted in Dogs

    I live in a three bedroom apartment with a small sized yard and I've been wanting a dog for a long time now. My dad asked the landlord about the pet policy, and it turns out that a Japanese Akita would be allowed. That b …d, I'm somewhat laid back and not too energetic, but I'm willing to give the dog a 45-and 60 minute walk a day, I have a toddler sister, and I know a lot about dog training, but I don't have a lot of experience doing it.

    • Yes, Japanese Akita, or Akita Inu is a breed in other countries. Only in the US and Canada is it simply called Akita.

      I would be worried about not giving the dog as much exercise as it needs. They aren't …career. There are some wonderful examples of Akitas out there, when bred properly and with the right family. In the wrong situation, you will end up with an aggressive, dominant, unruly dog that has taken over the house.

  • Avatar vagabond Wolf, coyote and fox as pets?
    Feb 10, 2011 by vagabond | Posted in Other - Pets

    Why is it illegal to keep these animals as pets?

    Shiba Inu, Saarloos Wolfhound, Akita, Belgian Maliois, Shiloh Shepherd, Siberian Husky, Swedish Vallhund, Czechoslovakian Wolfdog and shepherds all resemble a …ow the difference if you did have one?

    I am also confused about the fox since it looks like a dog, and some look like cats. Has anyone ever mated a dog with a fox? And why is it illegal to keep them as pets?

    • Because these are animals that you can never successfully train. They are also carriers of rabies, and can revert to their wild ways in an instant. . They are also nocturnal, and liable to attack people. You need to see a wolf for real if you think you can restrain one on a leash. They will also attack other cats and dogs in your neighberhood because they are born killers