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.