Jeff Stallings, CPDT/KA

Dog DNA tests are accurate and fascinating

By Jeff Stallings, CPDT-KA

When we adopted Otis at 14 weeks old from a foster home in Grass Valley, we learned that she and her four litter mates had been “dropped at the front door” in some domestic dispute and that, through the grapevine, their mother was a Boxer/McNab mix.   At that time our superb veterinarian, Dr. Kathy Gervais at Pets Unlimited, told us to wait on a DNA test because they were getting more and more accurate.

Well, some friends of ours recently got the results of a DNA test for their mutt. They pretty much knew Blue’s ancestry; her mother is a German Shepherd and, based on very obvious physical characteristics, her father a Weimeriner. The DNA the result was spot on. And not only did it get the parentage right, it further showed that Blue’s mother is a WHITE German Shepherd, which we already knew for sure. (You’d never guess that looking at a very dark grey Blue.)

So we decided to test Otis.

What, exactly, is she?

No longer can Jim and I say, as we had assumed by her sleek body and amazing speed, that Otis’ father was (apparently) a Whippet.  Her DNA test verified that the original rumor about their mother was true: Border Collie (very close to a McNab) and Boxer.

But who would have guessed Boxer genes from both sides?  And on her great-grandfather’s side, Welsh Terrier.  (Our friends Johnny and Giselle, who have Otis’ littermate Magpie, had wondered if there was some terrier in there somewhere due to her high energy and enthusiasm).   Otis’ temperament, size and shape fit all the predicted characteristics in her now-known ancestry, and if you look at the relative weight ranges for all the dogs, Otis is right in the middle at 36 pounds.

From the Wisdom Panel Insight’s website:  “(the test) can determine the ancestry of a mixed-breed dog by testing for more than 190 breeds, the largest database on the market. A dog’s ancestry can influence him in surprising ways. Obvious and not-so-obvious physical traits plus behaviors like digging, herding and barking all come from the various breeds in a dog’s family tree. Once an owner understands a dog’s natural tendencies, it makes it possible to create a tailored training, exercise and nutrition program to fit his one-of-a-kind needs.”

While all of that may be true, the best result of this test for us was simply the joyful knowledge of all the ingredients that went into creating our super dog.  I highly recommend this for anyone with a mixed breed dog.


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2 Responses

  1. Super interesting!! What a great tool to help understand your dog. Thanks for these newsletters. Peggy

  2. We ended up with surprising results – the rescue where we got our dog said she was boxer/lab mix (they said they adopted out the parents, so they were sure of the parents being those breeds), yet Wisdom Panel’s results showed her as an American Staffordshire Terrier/golden retriever mix.

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Jeff Stallings, CPDT-KA
Dog Trainer and Author

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