Discovering what she is: Otis’ DNA test

by Jeff Stallings

When we adopted Otis at 14 weeks old from a foster home in Grass Valley, we learned that she and her four litter mates had been “dropped at the front door” in some domestic dispute and that, through the grapevine, their mother was a Boxer/McNab mix.   At that time our superb veterinarian, Dr. Kathy Gervais at Pets Unlimited, told us to wait on a DNA test because they were getting more and more accurate.

Well, some friends of ours recently got the results of a DNA test for their mutt. They pretty much knew Blue’s ancestry; her mother is a German Shepherd and, based on very obvious physical characteristics, her father a Weimeriner. The DNA the result was spot on. And not only did it get the parentage right, it further showed that Blue’s mother is a WHITE German Shepherd, which we already knew for sure. (You’d never guess that looking at a very dark grey Blue.)

So we decided to test Otis.

No longer can Jim and I say, as we had assumed by her sleek body and amazing speed, that Otis’ father was (apparently) a Whippet.  Her DNA test verified that the original rumor about their mother was true: Border Collie (very close to a McNab) and Boxer. But who would have guessed Boxer genes from both sides?  And on her great-grandfather’s side, Welsh Terrier.  (Our friends Johnny and Giselle, who have Otis’ littermate Magpie, had wondered if there was some terrier in there somewhere due to her high energy and enthusiasm).   Otis’ temperament, size and shape fit all the predicted characteristics in her now-known ancestry, and if you look at the relative weight ranges for all the dogs, Otis is right in the middle at 36 pounds.

From the Wisdom Panel Insight’s website:  “(the test) can determine the ancestry of a mixed-breed dog by testing for more than 190 breeds, the largest database on the market. A dog’s ancestry can influence him in surprising ways. Obvious and not-so-obvious physical traits plus behaviors like digging, herding and barking all come from the various breeds in a dog’s family tree. Once an owner understands a dog’s natural tendencies, it makes it possible to create a tailored training, exercise and nutrition program to fit his one-of-a-kind needs.”

While all of that may be true, the best result of this test for us was simply the joyful knowledge of all the ingredients that went into creating our super dog.  I highly recommend this for anyone with a mixed breed dog.

 Dog DNA test results

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About Jeff Stallings, CPDT-KA

Having owned well-trained dogs all my life, I started Better Nature Dog Training to exploit decades of experience teaching across a number of fields. I am nationally-certified through the highly-respected Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and am a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. I teach people how to effectively train their dogs by clearly demonstrating that every interaction counts when training a dog to come when called, for example, or instructing a puppy how to best get along in life. I take a scientific and holistic approach to dog training. The scientific aspect comes from understanding dog psychology from an evolutionary perspective, knowing how dogs are both similar to and distinct from their ancestors, including the grey wolf. The holistic component derives from taking into account all facets of any particular dog’s situation, including upbringing, prior training, traumatic events and—most importantly—the characteristics of his home and family life. Training a puppy or dog can be a most rewarding life experience; it can also be stressful and perplexing. One of the best services I provide is taking the guesswork out while lending a sure, guiding hand in successful dog behavior development and modification.
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2 Responses to Discovering what she is: Otis’ DNA test

  1. Peggy says:

    Super interesting!! What a great tool to help understand your dog. Thanks for these newsletters. Peggy

  2. Greta says:

    We ended up with surprising results – the rescue where we got our dog said she was boxer/lab mix (they said they adopted out the parents, so they were sure of the parents being those breeds), yet Wisdom Panel’s results showed her as an American Staffordshire Terrier/golden retriever mix.

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