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A ‘Supermutt’ Reveals Her True Identity

Posted 01.25.18 by Dr. Jacqueline Courtney, VMD

Strudel, a rescue dog with unknown origins, took a DNA test that provides information on breed mix, health risks, and more. 

If you have a mixed breed dog, chances are high that you have debated your pup’s lineage.  Maybe the adoption organization listed your dog as a Boxer/Labrador cross, but you’re convinced she has some herding dog mixed in somewhere. And then there’s that distinctive hound dog howl she makes when someone comes over to your house…

I adopted my very own ‘Supermutt’ in 2016 and was told she was a Labrador mix. After getting to know Strudel more, I became less and less convinced that her lineage contained any Labrador. She has wonderful neck rolls, her ears are small, and she has a short, thin tail. Our curiosity grew, and we decided to have her DNA tested. 

The home DNA testing kits are simple to use – all you have to do is swab the inside of your pup’s cheek and mail the swab back to the company in a prepaid package. The company will compare your dog’s individual genetic markers with those in their database to provide you with an analysis of your dog’s genetic makeup. Two of the most popular tests are the Wisdom Panel and Embark; both vary in price, turnaround time, and amount of genetic markers in their respective databases.

We decided to use the Wisdom Panel test for Strudel based on price and turnaround time. While we waited for results, we planned a DNA reveal party for Strudel’s biggest fans! At her party, everyone made their best guesses before the big reveal. A unicorn pinata containing candy and dog figurines representing her breeds was ready to go…

Obviously knowing your dog’s genetic background won’t make you love them anymore, but it can offer some practical uses:

  1. If you adopt a puppy, a DNA test may provide some insight into how large your pet will grow.
  2. A DNA test can alert pet owners about potential health issues to watch for in the future, as certain breeds are predisposed to particular conditions.
  3. Popular DNA tests also include testing for a genetic defect called a multi-drug resistance gene (MDR1), which affects a dog’s ability to process certain medications. This is very helpful information for your pet and their veterinarian.

After our guests broke open the pinata, we were surprised to find an English Bulldog and an American Staffordshire Terrier in the mix!  It turns out Strudel’s DNA test revealed that she is 50% English Bulldog. The neck rolls, calm and friendly demeanor, and silly, stubborn tendencies all started to make sense.

We always pondered the true identity of our ‘Supermutt’, and we certainly gained some valuable insight after completing the testing. If you have any questions about DNA testing your dog, we are more than happy to discuss this further with you. Happy testing!

Dr. Jackie Courtney

The Pet Hospitals Downtown

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