Me with my muse, Bailey!

About Allison Shamrell Photography:

Thanks for visiting my blog! My name is Allison, and I work in San Diego, CA, capturing the personalities of dogs and cats of all sizes & temperaments. I do photo sessions on location and in-studio, wherever my clients prefer! My photography style is natural, playful & soulful.

Here on my blog, I tell the stories of recent sessions and events. You might even find an insight or two into the behind-the-scenes side of my business! I hope you have fun looking around!

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619-357-6624  ~  Allison@AllisonShamrell.com  ~  3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116

Officially Voted the Best Pet Photographer in San Diego, 2014-2016, by the San Diego A-List.

Dog DNA Tests: Our Experience! (What kind of dog is Bailey?)

I think everyone who has a mutt is… curious.

Maybe it’s a fleeting curiosity for a moment, maybe it’s a burning desire that never fades. But I think everyone with a mixed-breed dog would really like to know what breeds their dog comes from, the clues to their heritage that may explain their dog’s silly behavior quirks or a rogue white fur spot. For whatever reason, I think that curiosity is definitely there.

Me? I fit more closely into the latter description. I’ve always wanted to know Bailey’s genetic makeup. And I knew about dog DNA tests for years, and had wanted to do one, but no event or reason ever spurred me to make the decision and purchase one… until my husband did it as a surprise for my birthday! That’s right, Mr. Shamrell came up with the best gift idea for me, and sent our dog’s DNA in without me ever knowing. (He’s a clever one!)

He chose the Wisdom Panel DNA test, a major name in the industry that’s available in most big box pet stores like Petco & Petsmart. It cost around $80 and is probably the most commonly-used test on the market. He then (somehow, on his own, miraculously) wrestled our dog into submission so that he could take the saliva sample! Haha – I’m kidding (mostly) – but I have to say that this is the hardest part of any dog DNA test. Instructions to obtain a good sample include swabbing a q-tip on the inside of her cheek for about 20 seconds, and that’s not in most dogs’ plans for the day. So with lots of treats and a firm grip on her collar, Mr. Shamrell was able to wrangle the q-tip into Bailey’s mouth for enough time to take a decent sample. (Hey, other tests are blood tests – saliva is the easy way out!)

Before you see the results, take a look: what breeds do you think are in Bailey?

mixed breed dog dna

Full disclosure: I’ve always guessed Rhodesian ridgeback was her primary heritage. Her face, her body structure, her generally lazy demeanor… and when she gets agitated, a dramatic ridge of fur appears on her back, from her shoulders allllll the way down to her tail. So of course the test would come back with ridgeback somewhere on it… right?

 

The results were delivered on my birthday, so it was a surprise for both of us, and that evening I unwrapped a very exciting envelope to see this:

dog dna test results

 

My initial reaction was: Staffordshire, sure – WHIPPET??? What?! There must be a mistake, that’s ridic- oh, wait a minute. Hold on. That may actually be why she’s only 50 lbs and has such tiny feet. And a tiny waist. And why she can run faster than almost every dog she’s ever met.

Whoa.

That’s exactly what a dog DNA test is supposed to do! They were characteristics that I’d always seen in her, but had always written off as quirks & happenstance. Suddenly, I saw whippet in my dog when I’d never imagined it before.

If there was a cartoon light bulb hanging over my head, it would have turned on. Poof!

 

Whew! It was an exhilarating start to reading her results. But things were about to take a downward turn:

my dog's dna test

What was with all this “mixed breed” nonsense? I know she’s a mixed breed, that’s why I wanted to do a DNA test. And now I was seeing that the test couldn’t figure it out beyond halfway? Last I heard, 50% is a failing grade. I thought to myself, do we get 50% of our money back? (Unsurprisingly, we didn’t.)

 

Wisdom Panel gives their best guess at the “mixed breed ancestry” result, which is good, but they don’t exactly sound confident in these results:

dog dna tests results

 

 

So there you have it. Bailey’s results, according to Wisdom Panel, are 25% Staffy, 25% whippet, and 50% unknown.

Fast forward a few years: we meet a vendor at the Hillcrest farmer’s market with all kinds of doggie goodies at his table. He asks if we’ve ever done one of the major brand dog DNA tests, and when we say that we have, he introduces us to a different brand of test. It’s called Accu-Metrics Viaguard (I know, their website is awful, don’t laugh) and it’s totally unrelated to Wisdom Panel. He shows us the research that says Wisdom Panel has 66.7% reliability, whereas this new test has 99.9% reliability. That was enough to pique our interest – and after hearing that they do all kids of DNA/forensics/paternity tests, etc, and they have a money-back guarantee, we happily purchased the new test kit and trotted off to try again! Nothing had changed in the last few years, of course – and I was coming around to the idea that she may not be Rhodesian after all – but why not get a second opinion?

Bailey didn’t enjoy the swabbing any more the second time around… but this time there were two of us so it went much quicker. And Bailey got a bully stick immediately afterwards, so don’t think for a second that she isn’t benefitting from this little experiment, haha!

 

Well, the results just came in. And they shocked me!

 

viaguard dog dna tests

Take a look at what the different “levels” mean:

doggy dna test results

 

How fascinating. There were Staffy & whippet, consistently making a second appearance – but Catahoula Leopard Dog?? Labrador!? I’ve been in the pet industry for over 6 years and I’d never even heard of a Carolina Dog! Truthfully, the Belgian Malinois wasn’t a huge surprise; I’d always figured she was part shepherd due to her coloring & body structure, I just didn’t know what kind specifically. Jeez – what a surprising combination of breeds!

 

They also sent us this certificate, which will definitely come in handy if we ever move into a rental home/apartment with breed restrictions:

dna test breed exemption

(Sigh. It’s so sad that this has to be a thing.)

Overall, the Accu-Metrics Viaguard test gave us a lot more information, so I appreciated that. Both tests gave us a few pages of medical information about the breeds that were identified in each one – here’s a page from Accu-Metrics Viaguard, for example:

dog dna tests breeds

 

If you have health concerns for your dog as he/she gets older, a DNA test could be exactly what you & your vet need to keep giving your dog the best possible care. I definitely plan on sharing all this info with our vet – so although it wasn’t the primary reason we did these tests, it’s definitely an added benefit.

So there you have it! I highly recommend dog DNA tests, at least for the fun of discovering something new! I certainly can’t speak to their accuracy, but it was a really fun surprise both times. And while Bailey may not be Rhodesian like I thought – or boxer, or German shepherd like so many people tell me – I really don’t mind having a Catahoula/Staffordshire/Carolina/Malinois/labrador/whippet mix, either! :)

 

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Allison Shamrell Pet Photography
Call: 619.357.6624 // Email: Allison@AllisonShamrell.com // Visit: 3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116
San Diego's Best Pet Photographer, voted by the San Diego A-List 2014-2016
© Allison Shamrell Photography, 2016

First time here? You're on the blog! Visit the main website with Allison's portfolio & session info here: www.AllisonShamrell.com

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One Response to “Dog DNA Tests: Our Experience! (What kind of dog is Bailey?)”

  1. Deb Pose says:

    Oh sweet Bailey!!!!

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