Monday, January 14, 2013

Doggie DNA Tests

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I know Apple's exact breed, and that he is what I like to call a "knock-off Labradoodle." Since we found Apple in a parking lot, this information was not given to us by a breeder or the owner of Apple's mother. We actually had a Mixed Breed DNA Test done for Apple, so that we could know the exact make-up of his breed.

I first learned about doggie DNA testing when my husband, Steven, and I took Apple to Austin Pets Alive on the day that we found him. One of the workers guessed that he might be a Labradoodle, while another thought he might be a Border Collie mix. I felt pretty skeptical that we would have found a designer dog on the streets, so one of the girls told us that we could buy a testing kit if we ever wanted to know exactly what he was.

I knew from then on that I wanted to have him DNA tested. It was so difficult for me to have people constantly ask me what he was and for me not to know. Also, since he was a very young puppy, there were many things that I wanted to be able to understand about his behavior in the context of his breed to help me train him. Steven and I decided we would get him tested for Christmas, and in the meantime, these were the breeds that we considered as a possibility or that other people guessed were a part of his mix:

Irish Wolfhound
Labrador Retriever
Standard Poodle
Standard or Giant Schnauzer
German Shepherd
Portuguese Water Dog
Various Spaniels
Border Collie

Secretly, I did not want Apple to turn out to be a Labradoodle or any kind of designer dog. It bothered me that people might look at him and assume that we paid $1800 for him when in reality, we rescued him from the street and didn't pay anything to adopt him. I didn't want people to assume we were rich or that we weren't interested in adopting shelter dogs.

Then, in September, we got a surprise that led to us doing the DNA test much earlier. We were walking Apple around the St. Edward's campus when a girl in front of the science lab shouted "What kind of dog is that?" from a distance. She seemed more interested in or concerned about Apple than the average person. I immediately felt nervous and a bit defensive, because I was still afraid that Apple's previous owners come back for him and take him away from us. She asked me how old he was and where we got him, and I was so worried that she might have known his original owners!

It turns out, that the reason she was interested in him was because her mother had recently adopted a dog that looked almost identical to Apple. The shelter suspected that he was an Irish Wolfhound mix, as many people suspected about Apple, but they had him DNA tested and found out that he was a Shepadoodle. I had begun suspecting that Apple could have some Shepherd in him because he was getting brown fur around his mouth. This dog, Flynn, not only looked like Apple, but was also almost the exact same age and was found on the street the same week as Apple. We were determined to do the test to find out if he and Flynn were related.

Apple is on the left, Flynn is on the Right
We chose Wisdom Panel Insights Mixed Breed DNA Test (the same one they used) and the process was very easy. We bought the test on Amazon, and when it arrived, we just swabbed his cheeks and sent it off. It was supposed to take about 3 weeks for the results to come back, but it only took a matter of days before we received the email with this information:

So, as you can see, Apple is not related to Flynn. Another cool thing about the test is that it showed a breakdown of the 5 best DNA matches for his mixed breeds. These percentages show how much of his DNA matches these breeds:

I was very pleased with the process and the results. DNA Tests are a little expensive, but I do believe that our test was accurate and I would recommend this test to anybody else who might be a little curious about their dog's breed mix. I looked at other tests before picking this one, and I believe that this one is an excellent choice.

Would you DNA test your dog? For our family, I think it was a great choice!

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