5.28.2017

in which we answer the burning question: "what kind of dog is that?"

At the beach! Diego's favourite place.
What kind of dog is that?

People ask this all the time. All our dogs have been rescues, but most had recognizable breed markers. We could answer "white Shepherd-Husky cross" or "Lab-Shepherd mix" or "Jack Russell-Fox Terrier cross".

Of course those dogs probably had many other breeds in the mix. When you think about it, unless a dog is actually the product of two purebreds, it's likely to be the product of dozens of different breeds. A mixed breed mates with another mixed breed, and their puppies mate with other mixed breeds, and so on. But people really want to hear two or three breeds! So I'd go with the obvious, and that answer would satisfy.

With Diego, I've never known how to answer. I've thought of making up a breed -- a Burnhamthorpe Terrier, for a street we live near, or a York Hound, for the Toronto North York animal shelter where we found him -- but I never seem to think quickly enough. Sometimes I say he's a Border Collie-Boxer mix. But mostly I say, "He's a mutt," or "He's a mix of many things. His own unique blend."

Because really, who cares? He's Diego!


With his beautiful sister Tala, so missed.

Well, now we're going to find out! We're going to put his drool to good use, and have it DNA-tested.



I first heard about DNA testing for dogs at the dog park -- a couple were having their rescued German Shepherd tested to see if he was actually a purebred. Yuck! But when we learned it was pretty affordable, we thought it would be fun to know what breeds might have left their pawprints on our Diego.

This morning we're taking a sample of his all-too-plentiful saliva and sending it off in the mail. I'll report back in about two weeks.

14 comments:

Amy said...

I love this! I had no idea they had DNA testing for dogs. I've done DNA testing on my mother, brother, and myself for genealogy purposes---to see what breeds we are! We often wondered what else Cassie had in her since she was not purebred collie. I wish I had some of her saliva...

johngoldfine said...

"a couple were having their rescued German Shepherd tested to see if he was actually a purebred. Yuck!"

And--what?--toss him back if he didn't meet their racial purity standards?

When people get really stupid, they come up to one of our Icelandic horses, descended from horses with 11 or 12 centuries of bloodlines, and say, 'Is he a thoroughbred?' Of course, 'thoroughbred' is term of art for horsemen, and Icelandics are as far from being a TB as is equinely possible, but since I know they mean 'purebred,' I say yes and mentally smile as I picture my sensible and stolid Icies rolling their eyes at some flighty TB.

Like many dog breeds we think of as immutable and categorical, TB horses only date back to the 18th Century and to some very fancy crossbreeding and inbreeding.

allan said...

And--what?--toss him back if he didn't meet their racial purity standards?

Same thing went through our heads.

I don't think they would have done that, but it did seem like they felt that if the dog was "pure", it would somehow reflect well on them.

laura k said...

We were horrified and immediately put distance between us. They were probably glad, since we are all mutts. ;)

Amy, there is a way to DNA dogs who are deceased. If you have a chew toy or bedding, they can sometimes do it through that. I decided not to do that. But it does exist.

Marie Snyder said...

Makes me think of this video on dog breeding in general.

laura k said...

Yes! Funny, I was going to go off on a similar rant about Victorians and their dog eugenics, and how there should be a total ban on breeding... and now I don't have to.

(I would like the vid better if it wasn't so mansplaning-y. But it's still true.)

Thanks for sharing!

Dusty said...

My aunt used to say "just a nice dog" insead of mutt...

laura k said...

That's a good answer. :)

impudent strumpet said...

Theory: saying he's a mutt from a shelter is the correct answer, because "What kind of dog is that?" is often code for "Where can I get an awesome dog like that?"

Of course, sometimes it's also code for "Give me the vocabulary to explain this awesome dog to others". And sometimes it's code for "I just want to interact with your dog, and if I keep the conversation about him it may come across as less rude to pay attention to him instead of the humans."

allan said...

And sometimes it's code for "I just want to interact with your dog, and if I keep the conversation about him it may come across as less rude to pay attention to him instead of the humans."

When I take Diego to the dog run, I never talk to anyone, but I do say hello to many of the dogs. Sometimes I go to them, sometimes they approach me. One dog who knows me is a big black dog that an older guy adopted as a rescue from New Orleans after Katrina (or so I was told a long time ago). I think he even drove down there to get him! Which means Beau is getting pretty old, but he's in really good shape.

allan said...

Answer, please!

laura k said...

Theory: saying he's a mutt from a shelter is the correct answer, because "What kind of dog is that?" is often code for "Where can I get an awesome dog like that?"

Yes! In the past when people would ask about Tala, or a long time ago, Gypsy, who were both so striking and beautiful, I would always say they were rescues. The only time that anyone asked about Diego with the "oo what a cool dog where can I get one" vibe, I did say he was a rescue and no discernible breed. They were very surprised.

And sometimes it's code for "I just want to interact with your dog, and if I keep the conversation about him it may come across as less rude to pay attention to him instead of the humans."

And sometimes it's elevator small talk. I find when I'm on an elevator with a large, panting, drooling dog, people do ask about him! He does draw attention. :)

impudent strumpet said...

Also, sometimes elevator dog talk is code for "Don't worry, I'm not afraid of your big awesome dog and actually want to play with him, but I also don't want to undermine your "Don't jump on strangers in the elevator" training."

impudent strumpet said...

One dog who knows me is a big black dog that an older guy adopted as a rescue from New Orleans after Katrina (or so I was told a long time ago). I think he even drove down there to get him! Which means Beau is getting pretty old, but he's in really good shape.

I just saw this - and that's such longevity for a dog! Beau is like the canine equivalent of a centenarian WWI veteran. He's unbelievably old to his fellow canines, and he's seen some shit they can't even imagine.