What kind of dog is this?

Mongrels I spent the summer of 1973 working at the Central Missouri Humane Society, back in my pre-veterinary days.   People would call asking, "Do you have any purebred dogs with papers?"  Occasionally, we actually did.  Most of the time we had the canine "wretched refuse of your teeming shore" (to borrow from Emma Lazarus).  While there are dogs who are given up for adoption due to extenuating circumstances, the vast majority of folks giving up their pets stated simply: "Don’t want him anymore." 

Heat_tease_mongrel_3 Under those circumstances, the dogs rarely come with pedigree, and many are of no immediately recognizable breed.  So you write "mixed breed" on their paperwork.  I will tell you that while "mixed breed" sounds a lot nicer than "mutt" or "mongrel", it is not an acceptable answer to the prospective adoptor in search of a dog.  When they ask "What kind of dog is this?", they want an answer, and they don’t want the answer to be "I don’t know."   The shelter employee must become creative.  Fortunately, you spend a lot of time looking at that chart with pictures of all the AKC recognized dog breeds.  There are certainly a lot of possibilities. With a modicum of imagination, you can conjure a plausible pedigree.  "I think he’s probably a cross between an Irish Water Spaniel and a Bouvier des Flandres."  Yeah, right.  That may not sound all that plausible to you, but people want an answer.  When all else fails, small dogs can be a "terrier mix" and large dogs can be a "shepherd mix".

That’s why I know that the new Wisdom Panel MX test is going to sell.  It won’t be available before September, 2007, and we don’t know what it will cost, but I know it’s going to sell.  Inquiring minds want to know, especially what kind of dog this is.   I love this idea, but the test certainly has its limitations.  Supposedly, with a blood sample for your dog’s DNA, they are going to check it against genetic markers for 130 breeds.  "You’ve got an uncle who was half Dachshund and half Collie". [Don’t laugh — I’ve SEEN that cross, and the Dachshund was the father.  Talk about  a missed opportunity for America’s funniest home videos, or YouTube, anyway.]

The kicker is that it’s not offered for purebreds.  You’re not going to prove that your dog is really a purebred Arkansas Giant Bulldog, or prove that it’s NOT a Pit-Bull where they are outlawed. 

The other funny thing (to me, anyway) is that it’s offered by Mars Veterinary Care.  You know, Mars, the candy bar people.  Of course, in addition to M&M’s, they also make pet foods.  It’s corporate diversity.  I think this may be a little too much corporate diversity.

I love this quote from their frequently asked questions: What research is the Wisdom Panel MX based on?  "Wisdom Panel MX is the result of years of extensive research."  Pardon me, but does that actually say anything?  It reminds me of the interview with the Japanese minister of justifying whale-slaughter.  "We need to kill whales for research."  What kind of research? "Scientific research."  Yeah, right.

Heat_dig_mongrel_3 There will definitely be a market for this, whether or not the results mean more than me juggling the breed chart in my imagination.  Think how popular it was to order your "Family Coat of Arms" back in the seventies.  I think that this test may wind up with some sort of disclaimer at the bottom, like the old TV psychic ads: "For entertainment purposes only."  It will be fun, though, if it’s not too expensive.

8 thoughts on “What kind of dog is this?

  1. Laura says:

    There is another test available currently available offered by MetaMorphix called the Canine Heritage Breed Test. Currently it can determine lineage from 38 breeds and I believe they are expanding that by the end of the year to up to 100. I understand that you only have to swab the cheek and no blood test is required so you can do it yourself (does anyone feel an episode of CSI coming on?). Link to info here http://www.metamorphixinc.com/products2a.html


    PS. I am not employed by this company, we came across them in some research we were doing for my company.

  2. Doc says:

    This company’s test is currently available, and the scientific background of the company is more impressive than the Snickers Bar people. Not to mention that they have been featured on the “Today Show” instead of “Good Morning America”. Still, I think that this is more of an entertainment thing, rather than something that really contributes to the management of the pet’s healthcare.

  3. Hope W. says:

    I believe there is also whatsmydog.com which is kind of funny to me.

    Anyway, I’m not sure how I ran acroos your page, but I grew up in southest Mo. how weird is that? I miss it everyday. Nice writing. -Hope

  4. Sheila says:

    Just for grins, I think I will send samples to all these companies from the same all-american mutt, and see if they all sift out the same answer. Maybe throw in a cat.

  5. Lis says:

    Mars used to have their very own horse trial a few years ago. It was a great event with Mars candy as part of prizes for those who placed in the top 8. Unfortunately it no longer is run, but Ms. Mars is still involved in the eventing community with her own farm, sponsoring horse trials, etc. I had no idea the company was also involved in the small animal industry. Interesting post! 🙂

  6. Tammy says:

    I have a friend who works for Mars. Although they are more known for their candy, that’s due to their privacy. They actually are deeply involved in petcare and have been involved in extensive research through the Waltham Center in the UK. I did this test myself and LOVED the results. I also did the cheek swab to compare, and found those results to be totally inaccurate.

  7. japanese chin says:

    Well said..
    I agree and am also against in using the term “mongrel” or “mutt” when people are pertaining about mixed breeds.
    TITLE: Dog Breed Info Problems
    URL: http://ezinearticles.com/?Dog-Breed-Info—The-Problems-And-The-Decision-To-Get-One&id=387049
    BLOG NAME: Dog Breed Info Problems
    DATE: 07/25/2007 04:41:06 PM
    Ok, you have made up your mind on the big decision to purchase a dog. There are many breeds to choose. How do you manage to make a decision on which kind of dog breed is best suited for you?

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