2018-07-26 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Last week we launched the “Guess ALDO’s Breeds” contest, which is ongoing. You still have time to enter your breed hunches for ALDO (shown below) and possibly win a dog DNA kit of your own.

This week’s “Pets” will detail more about the latest canine DNA testing kits, and why you may want to know more about your mixed breed dog’s genetic make-up.

Which came first the Mixed Breed or the Pedigreed? Many people erroneously believe their mixed pup is the product of two purebred dogs. That is rarely the case unless there happens to be an “oops” litter between two pedigree dogs, or someone is selling 50/50 “designer dogs” (aka “expensive mutts”) like Maltipoos (Maltese plus Poodle) at exorbitant prices. When you think about it, there were aboriginal dogs before any purebreds so many dogs never had a purebred in their lineage.


Afghan Hounds may go back to 6,000 BC in Afghanistan. Afghan Hounds may go back to 6,000 BC in Afghanistan. Scientists debate which breed is the oldest. Since decoding the canine genome they have a better idea of which breeds are ancient because their genes are the least divergent from those of wolves. Among the oldest breeds are sight hounds including Afghans, Salukis and Basenjis; Northern breeds like Samoyeds and Malamutes; and Asian breeds such as the Akita Inu, Chow Chow and Chinese Sharpei. This may not be scientific, but Afghan owners all insist Noah chose two Afghans to board his Ark.

Why Test Your Dog’s DNA? For most mixed breed owners, the main reason is curiosity, or to confirm what they have been told or suspected about the breeds of their dog’s parents. Test kits are more precise now than when first available to the public because more breeds have been added to the database. The more breeds, the more accurate the breed profile, and the more costly the kit. The Wisdom Panel™ 40, which retails for $85, can identify 253 breeds, types and varieties; detect the probability of certain drug and exercise sensitivities and provide a trait analysis.


Scientists say Akitas originated in Japan somewhere between 8,000 BC and 200 BC. Scientists say Akitas originated in Japan somewhere between 8,000 BC and 200 BC. Also, if the dog has a purebred parent or grandparent, results are highly accurate. But if the dog is a Heinz 57 (Am I dating myself with that reference?), where each ancestor made many small breed DNA contributions to the mix, it will be harder to pinpoint DNA results.

Here is an example. Once in a while Last Hope has mother dogs and puppies. Several months ago Last Hope took a young Beagle (indirectly) from a poorly run Southern shelter where the dog got minimal food and no veterinary care. We learned last minute the Beagle had heartworm, and either had a bad infection or was in an advanced pregnancy. When she got here, our vet determined she was very pregnant. We calculated she got pregnant at the poorly run shelter. Something inexcusable, no matter how poor a county is. It doesn’t cost money to keep male and female dogs separate from each other.

Hunting Beagles are kept in packs. Countless Beagles are discarded in rural Southern areas if they are not good hunting stock. It is likely a stray, pregnant Beagle would be carrying Beagle or other hound mix pups. But not if the Beagle got pregnant at the county shelter. Any breed (or breeds) there could be doggy dad.

Our Mama Beagle stayed in wonderful foster home with lots of Mama Beagle experience, but it is virtually impossible to undo damage done by previous neglectful care. Her two surviving puppies were much larger than pups from our other Beagle mix litters. We began to suspect their sire (or sires) were large dogs.

Our suspicions of a large breed sire have been confirmed. The adopters of one of the pups just got results from his Wisdom Panel DNA test. He is 50% Beagle (that’s Mom), 25% Great Pyrenees and 25% breed groups: Herding, Companion, Terrier. That means Dad had one parent who was a Great Pyrenees and the other who was so mixed that breed groups are listed but it’s impossible to say which specific breeds. It is common to see Great Pyrenees (working dogs) protecting sheep herds in rural areas. I’d venture to guess the Great Pyrenees mix was staying at the same shelter as Mama Beagle. By the way, Mama Beagle has a great home now.

DNA Results Can Identify Health & Training Concerns: Breeds are predisposed to certain diseases. It is a good idea to discuss DNA test results with your veterinarian. By knowing your dog’s breed make-up, owner and vet can be alert to possible risks. Boxers are prone to bone cancer; Scotties to bladder cancer. Dobermans and Standard Poodles are on the list of breeds more likely to inherit Von Willebrand disease a bleeding disorder. Some breeds are sensitive to certain anesthesia; others cannot tolerate specific medicines. However, this doesn’t mean your dog will develop these diseases or bad reactions to drugs.

Terriers can be feisty, stubborn and love the sound of their own bark. If your dog is part Yorkie, which can be a tiny Terrier with a Napoleonic complex, your trainer may use different techniques to curtail chronic barking. If your dog is part Sheltie, a Herding breed, this may explain why your dog is pushy around kids or chases bicycles. The “sheep” are getting away. Your pup is hardwired to keep them from straying.

“Guess ALDO’s Breeds” Contest: ALDO is a comical looking Chihuahua type with radar ears, found in Copiague, unclaimed at Babylon Shelter and now at Last Hope. Last week’s 7/18/2018 Record “Pets” online details ALDO’s antics and more photos.

To enter our “Guess ALDO’s Breeds” contest, view his photos here or “Pets” link online or when the “Pets” link is posted on Last Hope Inc. and Babylon Animal Shelter Facebook pages. If you see the photos in print, enter your breed composite guess in an email to jvsabu@aol.com with “ALDO Contest” in the subject line. Put your guess on Facebook as a comment. Better yet, go visit ALDO at Last Hope, 3300 Beltagh Ave in Wantagh. You can list more than two breeds as ALDO’s breed composite.

The person with the closest ALDO breed composite will win a Wisdom Panel™ 40 kit to solve a mutt mixture mystery or to donate to a shelter or rescue. Good luck guessing!

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