"what kind of dog is that?" part 2: in which we learn more but feel like we know less

You may recall, we decided to have Diego's DNA examined to see what breed mix he is. Here's what the folks at DNA My Dog have determined.

Supposedly Diego is 37-74% German Shorthaired Pointer, 20-36% German Shepherd, and 1-9% Collie.

I just don't get it. Diego looks nothing like a German Shorthaired Pointer. Other than his prick ears, he looks and behaves nothing like a German Shepherd. He does somewhat resemble a Smooth-Coated Collie, but that's a very small percentage. No Border Collie, although he exhibits some classic Border Collie behaviour? No Staffordshire Terrier or American Pit Bull Terrier, even though we see the bully boy in his face? No Boxer, no Mastiff?

Here's Diego.

Now look at images of images of German Shorthaired Pointers. Really?

If you comb through dozens of images of German Shorthaired Pointers, you can find one or two pics where the colouring bears a slight resemblance. But certainly it is not the norm. Can a dog be up to 74% of one breed and have almost no physical resemblance to the so-called breed standard?

We did the DNA testing strictly for curiosity and fun, but now I'm seriously confused.

DNA My Dog also includes behavioural descriptions of the breeds, and common known health issues -- none of which fits Diego.

In case you are just tuning in, this truly was strictly for fun. Not only don't I care what breed my dog is, I find the entire concept of breeds ridiculous. With the exception of a few kinds of dog bred for specific work, most breeding is just eugenics. Breeding for arbitrary, human-created standards has ruined the health and lives of so many dogs. I would like to see a complete moratorium on breeding -- which would certainly cut down on the vast numbers of dogs that are homeless or euthanized each year.


rww said...

I wonder if the results from those DNA Yourself services are just as accurate.

laura k said...

I'm not saying the test wasn't accurate. I have no way of knowing.

allan said...

I really like that first photo - content and relaxing in the sun.

karen said...

What kind of dog is Diego? He's the AWESOME kind, of course!

James Redekop said...

The herding crouch &c might come from the Collie. I can sort-of see some of the German Sheppard in his face. But I don't really know enough about German Shorthaired Pointers to comment.

It's possible for most dogs in a breed not to match the standard, but they'll be under-represented in Google image search results, because those'll be skewed by images that conform to the standard.

laura k said...

What kind of dog is Diego? He's the AWESOME kind, of course!

So true! Indeed, all our dogs hae been that kind. I think it's the most common dog breed. :)

laura k said...

It's possible for most dogs in a breed not to match the standard, but they'll be under-represented in Google image search results, because those'll be skewed by images that conform to the standard.

I know what the GSP looks like from my days of watching the Westminster on TV. Naturally those would have been breed standards only.

(I can still hear the announcer's booming voice intoning how the German Shepherd is "loyal beyond measure".) [<--- Xref to John McWhorter, and how readers know I am not literally hearing the voice in my head, because of our shared understanding of language.]

I wonder how I could see images of non-standard GSPs.

Stephanie said...

I was surprised to learn that German Shepherds are herding dogs so herding could come naturally to Diego.

Dharma Seeker said...

I was going to DNA Willow, I actually had the test paid for and everything, but then I learned DNA my dog doesn't have English Pointer in their database, so her primary breed would default to the nearest genetic match that is in their system - GSP, which she isn't. I was more curious about her tail, and she is smaller than most pointers. In any event Diego may have a breed (or two) in his mix that simply isn't in DNA My Dog's database. He's got to have some blocky head DNA in him (and you know I say that with reverence and love).

Dharma Seeker said...

His ears are very Collie though :) I don't think the tests are wrong, they just need more breeds in their database.

laura k said...

Oh wow, I wish I had known that!

DS, I agree, he must have some Staffie or Rottie or somesuch in there. And that's entirely a good thing!

Stephanie, are they actually herding dogs? I thought they were classed under working dogs, but not herders.

In any case, this whole thing has been a bust. Although I do feel that I now should be speaking to Diego in German. I've always thought Spanish because of his name. ;)

johngoldfine said...

I usually give my dogs the honorific last name of 'Jones'--Patrick Jones, Boca Jones, Chloe Jones, and so on--and since Jones is a Welsh name, I figure they all have a bit of Corgi in them.

My only exception to the Jones rule is our Poodle, Dillon, who seems to have naturally been christened Dillon MacMillan, and so perhaps has some highlander collie lurking in the wings.

johngoldfine said...

Not to drive you to the edge of despair, Laura--and then over it--but I've had students so burned on apostrophes that they spelled the name in my first graf above as Jone's. Not as a possessive or plural, just as the magic punctuation mark to use in hopes of avoiding teacher's wrath.

laura k said...

I love that!

All our dogs have had their own last names. Gypsy Q, Clyde the Dog, Cody Brown. Mr. B (Buster's full name), Tala Bobala, SeƱor Diego.

Gypsy and Tala probably had the most nicknames. Tala was Talabo, T-Bo, and especially Bo or Little Bo.

laura k said...

Ok obviously when I typed "I love that!" I was referring to John Goldfine's dogs' names, NOT his students' apostrophe abuse!

Allan and I have both seen many names misspelled with apostrophes. One particular "favourite" is Muddy Water's. It hurts my fingers to type that!!

impudent strumpet said...

When I was looking up pictures of German Shorthaired Pointers, Google suggested "German Shorthaired Pointer cross", and a few of those dogs have colouring kind of like Diego's - mostly black with white down the middle. They aren't the same shape though - they don't have the pointy ears and snout. They still don't look like the same breed, but I could see the argument for a common ancestor.

laura k said...

Further to Imp's comment above, I've been reading about dog genetics and selective breeding, and now realize that a mix could end up looking like almost anything! That's a slight exaggeration, but only slight.