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How To Try to Determine Your Dog Breed ?

How to determine breed characteristics in my dog?

If you have adopted a dog, you may not have much information as to the origins of his parents or genetic lineage. In other words, your dog is unique and does not belong to any one breed. And yet, it can be tempting to want to identify the breeds in your dog, especially if he happens to have the beautiful blue eyes of a husky with the silhouette of a Labrador. One of your dog’s parents may be an identified breed, however you can’t be sure about this unless he is listed in the national registry of breeds in your country (ex: Livre des Origines Françaises – LOF - from the Société Centrale Canine in France). Consequently, you will have to look closely at his morphological and behavioural (aptitudes) characteristics in order to try and determine the likely cross of breeds from which your canine companion comes. This may prove to be tricky on your own, so don’t hesitate to consult with your vet. He or she sees a huge variety of dog breeds all day long and can certainly provide you with lots of helpful information. Then check out the official websites for breeds and breeders which provide detailed information about the characteristics of each of the breeds. Finally, don’t forget to talk to anyone who may be able to provide you with some background about your dog’s past. If your dog is a puppy, it may be difficult to find conclusive information so it is best to wait a few months until he is more fully grown and then you can start your evaluation again.

You can make an educated guess based on observation but if you really want to be sure about the breeds in your dog’s genetic heritage, you should do DNA testing. Mars Veterinary – part of The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition - have created ‘Wisdom Panel' – a kit that creates a report on the DNA of your mixed breed dog.

There are a number of morphological traits that you may consider including:

The shape of its head

Dogs’ heads tend to be grouped into three main groups: Dolichocephalic, or long-headed dogs (i.e. the Collie, or Afghan hound), Brachycephalic wide-skulled dogs (i.e. the Boxer or Shih-Tzu), and Mesocephalic, which refers to dogs with medium sized heads and skulls that fall somewhere in between the two abovementioned groups. The Mesocephalic group includes most dogs (examples are the Labrador, Malinois, Australian shepherd…).

Shape and carriage of the ears

Dog’s ears come in many different shapes (i.e. button, bat (i.e. resembling the wings of a bat), folded, long, wide, V-shaped…) but they are generally categorized into three main groups. These include: floppy or drop ears (i.e. dogs in the hound group such as the Dachshund), prick or erect ears (i.e. West Highland White Terrier or Pinscher or Yorkshire terrier, German shepherds or Siberian Husky) and semi-pricked or cocked ears (i.e. the Collie or Shetland sheepdog...).

Your dog’s type of coat texture and colouring

Dogs have a wide variety of textures and lengths of coats including short hair (i.e. the Beagle or Great Dane), wiry (i.e. terriers such as the Jack Russell Terrier), long (i.e. Collie, Bouvier des Flandres, Maltese...), and curly (i.e. Labradoodle, Cockapoo), among others.
The coats of our canine friends also come in very wide range of patterns including bi-coloured or a coat with two colours (i.e. red and white colouring of some spaniels), spotted pattern (i.e. the Dalmatian), the tri-colour pattern (often black, tan and white, dogs such as the Bernese mountain dog), merle or dappling (spots with darker nuances of colour over a light base coat-seen in many collies, the Australian shepherd) and a beautiful array of colours such as black and tan, gold, fawn, sable, red, rust, lemon, chocolate, to name but a few. However, keep in mind that the coat patterns and colours vary considerably within breeds so for example a Beagle may be tri-coloured or bi-coloured.

You may also want to consider your dog’s overall build and frame (slender, heavy set or stocky, etc.), whether he has furnishings such as beard or moustache (such as the Scottish terrier or Schnauzer), as well as his weight, height and the tail carriage.

Character traits and breed

Certain breeds are also associated with a particular character trait, temperament or aptitude so you may consider your dog’s behaviour and reactions in different situations. Keep in mind however that there is great variety of both appearance and behaviour within each breed. In other words, there are both sides of a spectrum existing in all breeds. Having said this, there is a considerably higher likelihood of getting a dog with a specific look or behaviour if you choose a breed instead of a mixed breed dog.

Some points to consider: Is he calm and placid or is he a barker and constantly alert (i.e. West Highland white terrier, beagle)? Does he guard the house? (i.e. German shepherd). Is he protective of family members (i.e. Belgian Malinois or Labrador Retriever)? Is he constantly digging (i.e Terriers, Boxer)? Does he love the water (I.e. Poodles, Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland) or have excellent retrieving characteristics (i.e. Golden or Labrador retrievers)? Does he display herding instincts (i.e. Border collies, Australian cattle dogs, Bouvier)? Does he continuously trail a scent or track (i.e. Beagle or Pointer)? Is he highly energetic (i.e. Collie, Jack Russell)? Does he have a highly developed sense of the pack, as well as an intense need for physical activity and freedom (i.e. Huskies)?

Common dog terms

-A pure-bred is born of two dogs of the same pure breed. A pedigreed dog is a purebred whose ancestry is registered or recorded in each country’s national registry of dog breeds. However, the two words are sometimes used inter-changeably.
-A cross-breed dog is a dog whose parents are known and are of two different breeds of dogs. Sometimes, this term is used to refer to dogs who have been bred intentionally.
-A mixed breed dog is a dog whose parents are of different breeds.

An illustrated guide

This guide is an easy way to identify the possible breeds in your dog’s background on the basis of different morphological criteria. It is designed to help you make a quick evaluation of crosses of breeds and to identify the type of dominant breed. However, it is only a guide and does not claim to replace the analysis of an expert in canine breeds.

Perfect Fit tips to identify the possible breeds in your dog’s background



How to identify the breeds in your dog?
Here are a few criteria to guide you:

This dog features all of the typical traits of the Beauceron: the black and rust colour, the rectilinear profile with a long muzzle neither narrow or pointed, a barely defined stopand short fur. However, the beautiful blue eyes of the Siberian Husky and the pointed, triangular, erect or prick ears are unmistakable. This example of cross-breeding illustrates the strong dominance of the features of the Beauceron over those of the Siberian Husky.

If you can see on this mixed-breed, a double dewclaw on the hind legs, this is a typical feature of the Beauceron.

Type Spaniel (cocker or breton)* Shepherd or Labrador

How to identify the breeds in your dog?
Here are a few criteria to guide you:

This medium sized dog has a few characteristics that are typical of certain hunting dogs such as the Spaniel, with fairly short, triangular, drooping ears, mid-length fur with falls at the ears and the legs, and slightly almond shaped eyes. However, the all over black colour with slightly white patching on the chest is not common in Spaniels.

The long shaped muzzle with an only slightly defined stop would seem to indicate a mix of breeds with a Labrador retriever or a German shepherd (or a cross of these breeds).

This mixed-breed shows the predominant characteristics of hunting dogs such as the Spaniel in the widest sense with however certain features which suggest a mix of Shepherd or Labrador. In this case, given uncertainty involved, this dog could be considered a Spaniel type cross-breed.

Type Griffon (Griffon Korthals*unidentified breed which could be a Pyrenees sheepdog….)

How to identify the breeds in your dog?
Here are a few criteria to guide you:

This dog’s floppy, rear-set ears, mid-length harsh fur, with eyebrows and mustaches, and a long, square muzzle would suggest a Griffon Korthals. However, his large proportions would suggest a cross with a large sized dog breed. Here, you have predominantly Griffon Korthals morphological features but with an all-white coat, which indicates an original cross, as it is difficult to identify the second breed.

Bichon frise* Poodle

How to identify your mixed breed dog?
Here are a few criteria to guide you:

The all white coat, the mid-length, fine, silky and slightly curly fur, the droopy ears, his medium proportions with a fairly rectilinear head, and black round eyes are all characteristics which are more typical of a Bichon frise than a large poodle.

Cross Yorkshire terrier *probable breedseither Pinscher or another terrier

How to identify your mixed breed dog?
Here are a few criteria to guide you:

The black and rust coloured coat, fawn on the head and lower legs, the medium sized build with a body that is slightly longer than higher, the long muzzle, with a barely defined stop all would suggest a cross with shepherd or terrier. However, the short, harsh fur, the eyebrows and whiskers, erect, pointed ears, and the dark outer edge of the eyelids all point to the presence of a terrier.

The morphological characteristics of this dog are fairly varied and suggest the predominance of terrier traits in spite of the absence of steel blue colour on the body which is typical of the Yorkshire terrier. An expert eye is required to make a more accurate evaluation of this mix of breeds.

CrossGerman Shepherd * Collie

How to identify your mixed breed dog?
Here are a few criteria to guide you:

The fawn coloured coat patched with white, the neck ruff, his medium size, the very long muzzle and short-to-mid-length fur are all easily identifiable characteristics. However, the analysis is made more complicated by the important height of the withers, the fact that this dog can easily put its head on a table, the carriage of the ears that are slightly folded but floppy, and the tail type (sickle or sword tail)-which all suggest a cross with some type of Shepherd dog.

Here, you have a balanced mix between the morphological characteristics of a German shepherd and those of a Collie. The parents are known, the puppies in the litter have more or less distinctive features from German shepherd to Collie. This dog is one of the puppies which represent a 50/50 balance between the characteristics of both breeds.

Cross Jack Russell terrier

How to identify your mixed breed dog?
Here are a few criteria to guide you:

The characteristics of the Jack Russell can be seen in the white coat with patches of black, fawn and rust mainly at the head and tail with harsh fur, erect ears, the straight upright tail, and small withers height, as well as the fairly medium sized but square chested build. In this specific case, there are few criteria to help determine the other breed of dog without further investigation. It is likely that the cross was with another breed of terrier, perhaps a Schnauzer, or a Pyrenees sheepdog cross breed.

Type Labrador (only one parent identified as a Labrador)

How to identify your mixed breed dog?
Here are a few criteria to guide you:

The dominant morphology is that of the Labrador with his black coat and slight white patching under the chest.

In this specific case, there are few criteria to help determine the other breed of the dog without further investigation about other dogs in the area. The size at the withers, the breadth of the shoulders, and the type of tail may be helpful but it is very likely that the other parent of this dog is a mixed breed.


How to identify the breeds in your dog?
Here are a few criteria to guide you:

The round head of this dog, his floppy ears and short yellow coat are all characteristic of the Labrador retriever. However, the distinctive blue eyes and black eyelids are typical of the Husky.
Here you have an original blend of the morphological aspects of the yellow Labrador retriever and the Siberian husky. However, there are likely to be other types of breeds in this dog’s genetic



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