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How to Identify Your Dog's Breed

How to Identify Your Dog's Breed
Identifying your dog's breed becomes necessary in cases wherein the dog is a rescued one. DogAppy assists you with the process, and provides important guidelines for appropriate identification.
Vibhav Gaonkar
Last Updated: May 13, 2018
It's Not a Mandate
Identifying your dog's breed isn't a mandatory task. Do it just for informative purposes or out of curiosity. The ultimate goal is to make friends with your new pet, and give it lots of love and care. If you're comfortable with it, other things don't really matter.
Recognizing a dog's breed is important because, every breed has its own unique requirements in terms of nutrition, care, exercise, and grooming. Though this task is quite easy when the dog is a purebred, it gets tough in cases of mutts and mixes. Mutts are dogs who are a cross between two different purebreds or a purebred and a mutt. In defining the breed of such a dog, it is essential to pinpoint the breeds of both the parents in order to determine its unique temperament, nutrition requirement, and other mandates.

In case you know the owners of the dog, do speak to them about the dog's history, its parents, and its overall temperament. In case you rescued the dog from a shelter or a pound, inquire about the origin of the dog, its owners, and its parents.

However, if you found a completely lost dog, these methods won't work for you. So how to find out your dog's breed? The first and the most basic step is to look for visual cues.

What Breed is Your Dog

Begin With Appearance

Observing the dog's physical characteristics would help you narrow down the classification process to some broad categories. For instance, if the dog has blue eyes and thick fur, one of its parents could be either a Siberian Husky or a Border Collie, or even an Alaskan Malamute. This could be further narrowed by checking other distinguishable features. If the dog has folded ears, it is more likely to be from a Border Collie than Huskies, or Malamutes who have broad, pointed ears.

Similarly, you could use this checklist to narrow down to a handful of possible matches. Take notes while you observe these characteristics.
  • Coat color, texture, and patterns
  • Size, shape, and type of ears (pointed or drooping)
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Eye color
  • Length of tail
Observe its Temperament

It's a bit difficult to recognize puppies solely from their appearance, as they haven't grown fully, and thus provide incomplete data regarding their weight, height, and other yet-to-develop features. However, the puppy's temperament wouldn't differ drastically with time, and could be observed to make predictions about its breed.

Look for the type of behavior in the dog. Is it very playful and friendly with you as well as strangers? Does it take the stance of a guard dog when someone's at the door? Does it seem very energetic? Is it lazy and snoozes frequently? These questions would help to determine a type, such as designer dogs, working dogs, guard dogs, etc.

Refer to Dog Directories and Indexes

Once you have some raw data about the dog's physical characteristics and temperament, go ahead and check some indexes online or by visiting a library. Dog directories and indexes would provide information regarding various dog breeds, including their appearance, temperament, and other important traits.

Referring to online indexes such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) would also provide pictures of different breeds. Pictures would actually take you a bit closer to the appropriate recognizing of your dog's breed. For mutts, you could visit American Canine Hybrid Club (ACHC), if you feel that your dog has genes of more than one breed. However, in case of a mutt, you'll need to be quite sure about at least one of the parent.

Post Your Dog's Pictures on Social Media

You could post your dog's pictures on social media to get help from your friends as well as from the public. In case an expert goes through the image, he/she could communicate with you and provide you with the necessary details. Alternately, you could also upload a video to make the dog's appearance and temperament more clear.

You could also use Google's 'search by image' feature to get similar looking breeds, and subsequently info on the same. To do this, you need to go to the images tab on the Google search engine, and drag an image of your pet into the search bar. You will get similar looking images, and all the relevant information along with it.

Do a DNA Test

In case all the above methods fail, you could always resort to a proper DNA test of your dog. A lot of such tests are available online, wherein you buy a test-kit and collect the DNA samples of your dog as per the instructions provided. The samples should then be mailed to the laboratory for testing.

The payment is made online, and once the samples are tested, you receive a detailed report about your dog's breed, ancestry chart, breed description, personality traits, health concerns, and more. Though these tests are a bit expensive, they do provide accurate results.

You might find it difficult to predict the breed of a dog just by observing its appearance or behavior. It's better to try out all these methods to be sure about your dog's breed. If all the results point towards one or two breeds, you can be quite sure that your dog is either one of them, or a combination of both. We wish that you find your dog's breed, and give it all the care, exercise, love, and nutrition it deserves.