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Ancestry tests aren’t just for humans anymore. We went to Petco this weekend to buy dog food and found brochures for doggy DNA testing. Now, those of you with dogs of uncertain parentage need puzzle no longer. According to Petco, their SNP test (what is a SNP?) can identify over 100 different breeds and they’ll tell you which breeds are represented in your dog and whether your dog’s breeding is mixed (or pure).

i-a485a28c9624259d5591637105fff9b7-koko_beach.jpgThe brochure from Petco also claims that knowing something about your puppy’s parentage could be helpful in understanding their behavior and potential health risks. That’s probably true to some extent, since many behavioral traits and health problems have a genetic component. I’m not sure how important that information is for everyone, but we were glad to have it with our dog.

We learned about our current dog’s parentage through a more traditional route – from the owners. We knew when we met the puppies that their mother was a lab and their father, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. We read everything we could find about Chessies and were forewarned by articles on their less pleasant traits. It was helpful to know ahead of time that our cute little puppy might grow up to be an assertive dog with a strong need for obedience training and lots of exercise. If we hadn’t known that Chessies could be aggressive, we might have taken fewer precautions and spent less time in puppy school.

I don’t think these tests have quite enough power to help the little Boogers find out it they’re really clones, but at least someone could tell if they’re Staffordshire Terriers or not.


  1. #1 DRK
    August 13, 2008

    I’ve always wondered about this very thing. Our little black dog with a white chest that we decided was part dachshund, part lab and part pit bull, for instance. An American Pit Dachs a d’Oreo, we’d tell people. Really, though, what was the evidence this dog had ever had any “purebred” ancestors whatsoever? Was there some time in human history, which is to say domestic canine history, where all dogs were AKC purebreds? Or have there always been mutts which occasionally would show a mutation of hunting skills or of adorableness that humans decided should be perpetuated? Was my little dog descended from some aristocratic misalliance, or a lucky combination of genes that produced cuteness and a superfical resemblance — short legs, deep chest and mostly black fur — to various breeds that also exhibited these traits? And are current DNA tests really good enough to tell?

  2. #2 Ian
    August 13, 2008

    It’s hard to discern the gender of the animal in your picture. Is it a bitch, a dog, or a dog on a beach?!

  3. #3 Sandra Porter
    August 13, 2008

    DRK: Neither the American Kennel club nor the United Kennel Club recognize Pitt Bulls as an official breed. Usually, the dogs that are known as Pitt Bulls are Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

    Ian: That’s my dog. She is definitely an alpha beach.

  4. #4 Betul
    August 13, 2008

    Good one. Soon we will ask the SNP analysis of the pet from the breed. Though how trustworthy is that? From what I know, SNP has controversies within too. (In the recent issue of Scientific American, there is an interesting article about SNP in humans; you might be interested)

  5. #5 Betul
    August 13, 2008

    breed=breeder 🙂

  6. #6 Joe
    August 13, 2008

    Get a greyhound. Then go to http://www.greyhound-data.com and trace it’s ancestry. It’s scary: I can trace my ancestry back to 1900 and my dog’s back to the 1700’s. What’s wrong with that set of priorities?

  7. #7 Kar?nca Yumurtas? Ya??
    August 23, 2008


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