Mixed up dog — one last dance with DNA
What do these four breeds have in common — besides getting labeled as vicious from time to time?
All four (Rottweiler, Akita, chow and Staffordshire terrier, aka pit bull) are in my dog Ace, according to yet another DNA test (last one, I promise). The best guess now is that one of Ace’s parents was a Rottweiler, the other a combination of Akita, Chow and pit bull.
Together, they formed this creature:
How the product of four “feared” breeds could be such a gentle giant might be explained several ways.
For starters, they aren’t vicious breeds — just breeds that, due to the acts of a few members, have seen themselves smeared as a whole. Secondly, we would contend, when you start mixing up breeds, though some purebred purists might be offended by it, some wonderful things can happen. Third, maybe, just maybe, nurture is more important than nature.
Then again, maybe DNA testing — scientifically solid as it may be — isn’t always the full and final answer.
After all this was our third test, and our third different diagnosis.
The first DNA analysis was performed in connection with the Baltimore Sun series, “Hey Mister What Kind of Dog is That?” The Canine Heritage test from Metamorphix, using a cheek swab taken from Ace, determined he was Rottweiler and Chow. At the time, the test checked for 38 breeds.
The second came after Mars Veterinary offered us a free Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed Analysis kit, which can detect the presence of more than 150 breeds. This one required a visit from a vet to take Ace’s blood, and the results showed he was 50 percent Rottweiler, 25 percent Akita, and 25 percent other unknown breeds.
While we were waiting for our results on that one, Canine Heritage got back in touch to let us know the newer version of their test — still using a cheek swab — could now detect 100 breeds. They offered us a free re-test, so we swabbed Ace’s mouth again.
The results of that one arrived in the mail last week.
Makers of the tests say it helps dog owners better understand their pets’ behavior, and better be on the lookout for potential medical problems, many of which are prevalent among certain breeds. In that regard, testing a dog’s DNA can serve a useful purpose. But there’s a potential for misusing them as well — if, for instance, they ever become a tool for enforcing breed bans.
In that case, Ace, with his components, would be Public Enemy No. 1. Should that ever come to pass, none of this ever happened, and Ace is actually a, uh … Portuguese water dog/Labradoodle mix.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 8th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akita, breed, breed bans, breed specific legislation, canine, canine heritage, chow, chow chow, dna, dog, health, mars veterinary, metamorphix, mix, mixed, mutt, mutts, pets, pit bull, rottweiler, test, testing, wisdom panel