Comparison of adoption agency breed identification and DNA breed identification of dogs

J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2009;12(3):253-62. doi: 10.1080/10888700902956151.


Governmental and other agencies may require dog caregivers (owners) to provide breed identification of their dogs. This study compares breed identification by adoption agencies with identification by DNA analysis in 20 dogs of unknown parentage. Of the 20 dogs who had been adopted from 17 different locations, the study identified 16 dogs as having (or probably having) 1 or 2 specific breed(s) in their ancestry. DNA analysis of these dogs indicated that 25% (4/16) did in fact contain genetic evidence of an adoption agency's identified breed as one of the predominant breeds in a dog's ancestry. DNA analysis did not detect all specified breeds in 14 of these dogs. That is, 87.5% of the dogs identified by an adoption agency as having specific breeds in their ancestry did not have all of those breeds detected by DNA analysis. The discrepancies between opinions of adoption agencies and identification by DNA analysis suggest that it would be worthwhile to reevaluate the reliability of breed identification as well as the justification of current public and private policies pertaining to specific dog breeds.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bites and Stings / mortality
  • Breeding* / standards
  • DNA / analysis*
  • Dogs / genetics*
  • Dogs / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male


  • DNA