How to Determine Your Dog's Breed

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Some dogs fit into a specific breed at first glance, yet other mixed breed dogs stand out and leave us scratching our heads. We search for certain markings to help us identify the breed, but sometimes we are still left wondering, "what breed is our dog?"

How Can You Determine the Breed Without DNA Testing?

Certain traits and behaviors will help you identify your breed. When you first get your dog, whether he is a puppy or an older dog, pay close attention to the following items for several weeks before trying to determine his breed:

  • How often he likes to go outside, and the duration of time he spends outdoors versus indoors
  • What triggers him to bark
  • When he wags his tail, and when hair stands up on his back
  • How well he gets along with other people and animals
  • How determined he is to escape from closed areas (crates, gates, fences, etc.)

Next, look at his color(s) — eyes, fur and tail can help you determine what breed or mix of breeds he might be exhibiting. Using the combination of his markings and behaviors, you can usually narrow his breed possibilities to under five options. You may be able to figure out your dog's breed by consulting the American Kennel Club or discussing the behaviors and markings you notice with your veterinarian.

Is DNA Testing Necessary?

Although there are mixed reviews on the reliability of DNA testing for dogs, according to Fortune, it is an option for dog owners who really can't figure out what type of dog they have through behavior and physical markings. A reason some pet owners really feel the need to know their dog's breed is that health problems related to certain breeds need to be watched for early on for best treatment. Knowing the breed can also be helpful for learning the best way to train your dog. Some methods of training work better for some breeds than others.

What If You Never Find Out?

In the end, having a few possible ideas of your dog's bloodline can help you determine how big he might get, how much exercise he should get, and what types of tricks or special agility training he may do well with. However, it is possible that you will never be able to figure out what breed your dog is — and that's okay!

One thing to keep in mind is that even within the same breed (and even the same litter), dogs can develop their own personalities and behaviors that may not even be typical for their breed. The environment a dog is raised in can impact his behaviors greatly — so even if you learn his breed and try to cater to best practices with that breed, you may have to try new things or even get the help of a professional trainer to help your dog overcome certain behaviors that resulted from his environment. However, there is one thing that can be said of all breeds, they're all worth your love. So, even if you are never able to quite narrow down the origins of his breed, know that he is now your family, and that's a lineage that you can certainly trace.

Contributor Bio

Chrissie Klinger

Chrissie Klinger

Chrissie Klinger is a pet parent that enjoys sharing her home with her furkids, two of her own children and her husband. Chrissie enjoys spending time with all her family members when she is not teaching, writing or blogging. She strives to write articles that help pet owners live a more active and meaningful life with their pets.

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