As most of their owners know, dogs can be full of surprises. That's what makes them the fun and entertaining companions they are. If they come from the pound or animal shelter, a surprise they can keep very well-hidden is their breed mix. They may be gorgeous, cute, or ugly and lovable, but they retain a sense of mystery that is not always in their best interest if nothing is known about their family tree.
Might your new mutt be prone to a particular disease or disorder, or be decidedly hostile to children? Should she be bred, and, if so, with what other breed? How large will he become? Does he require huge amounts of exercise or will he make good couch potato? How long might her lifespan be? Is blindness a possibility? Once you know what kinds of dogs were significant parts of her genetic heritage, it will be simpler to form a few theories about your unique pet.
Canine DNA composition is relatively easy to determine, and the process is much the same as human DNA testing. You can order saliva testing kits online that will come with the necessary materials, instructions and a return envelope (don't worry - there are no needles involved and no pain). After you complete the testing and return the materials to the testing lab, you should receive a report within the promised number of weeks detailing the lab's findings.
Testing labs have varying sizes of breed information databases with which to compare your dog's DNA. One may have 60, another 100 and another close to 200. If your dog's makeup is not at all apparent, it may be wiser to find a larger database to improve the chances for identification. Sometimes only American Kennel Club-recognized breeds are listed in the database. It pays to do research and read reviews before opting for a particular testing product.
The lab results will indicate the largest percentages of your dog's breed ancestry, which can lead you to more information about its possible health disorders, its physical characteristics and behavior, and its personality and idiosyncrasies. You may discover why your dog loves to jump into ponds and pools, herd small children and follow their sniffers until they're hopelessly lost. It's not his fault - now you can blame his great grandmother on his father's side.