The popularity of Dog DNA tests is increasing, but can they be trusted?

Mixed-Breed Dogs Shatter Traditional Breed Definitions in Study of Arizona and California Shelter Dogs

A study of 459 shelter dogs in Arizona and California revealed that there are 125 distinct breeds, with only five percent being purebred. This contradicts widely accepted breed definitions established before the advent of DNA analysis. Surprisingly, neither scientists nor experienced shelter workers were able to accurately identify mixed-breed dogs, which made up the majority of the dogs in the study. Mixed breeds can be particularly challenging when it comes to DNA testing, as the accuracy of test results relies on the genetic information available for identifiable breeds.

Halie Rando, an assistant professor of computer science at Smith College who led the research on this topic, explains that while a dog’s genetics may align with a specific breed, these definitions were established before DNA analysis was available. This can sometimes lead genetic testing results to contradict a pet owner’s assumptions about their dog’s breed. Consumers should research DNA testing companies thoroughly before submitting a sample, as the accuracy of the results can vary depending on the diversity of the company’s genetic panel. Even if you do receive information about your dog’s breed, it may not have a significant impact on their behavior. A genetic analysis conducted on over 2,000 purebred and mixed-breed dogs found that behavior is more closely linked to the individual dog rather than its breed, highlighting that breed is not a reliable predictor of behavior.

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