medical records, the media, and researchers try-ing to determine the likelihood o involvement ospecifc breeds in study populations. For example,in the methodology o one elegantly designed study,owners were asked “what breed they consideredtheir dog: i more than one breed was specifed,they were asked which breed they considered tobe predominant.”
Thisarticle became part othe impetus or manyrecommendations andrestrictions intended toreduce dog bites.High profle articlesin JAMA and JAVMAhave reported dog biteatalities and listedbreeds involved in suchattacks.
The dataused was obtained by“combining data romthe National Centeror Health Statisticsand computerized searching o news stories. KarenDelise has presented compelling arguments in herrecent book,
The Pit Bull Placebo
, that underminesconclusions and implications o these reports.
A short report in press in the Journal o Applied Animal Welare Science indicates low agreementbetween the identifcation o breeds o dogs byadoption agencies and DNA identifcation.
Thedogs in this study were o unknown parentage andhad been acquired rom adoption agencies. In onlya quarter o these dogs was at least one o thebreeds proposed by the adoption agencies alsodetected as a predominant breed by DNA analysis.(Predominant breeds were defned as those com-prised o the highest percentage o a DNA breedmake-up.) In 87.5% o the adopted dogs, breedswere identifed by DNA analyses that were notproposed by the adoption agencies. A breed musthave been detected at a minimum o 12.5% o adog’s make-up to be reported in the DNA analysis.Reports o DNA analyses o percentages o pure-bred dog breed ancestry, while accurate most othe time, are not inallible. The laboratories pro-viding such analyses may have qualifers in theirreports stating that there is an 85% or 90% validityo the results and indicate which results have lowerconfdence levels. Dierent testing laboratoriesmay report dierentresults depending onwhich dogs were usedto develop their stan-dards and how thelaboratories analyze thesamples.
As the testsare refned, the samelaboratory may reportslightly dierent resultsat dierent points intime.The discrepancybetween breed iden-tifcations based onopinion and DNAanalysis, as well as concerns about reliability odata collected based on media reports, draws intoquestion the validity and enorcement o public andprivate polices pertaining to dog breeds.Dr. Amy Marder, Animal Rescue League o Bostonand Director or the Center or Shelter Dogs, hasproposed that dogs adopted rom shelters in theU.S. simply be identifed as “American ShelterDogs”. This might solve a lot o problems, as wellas promote pride and ownership o an “AmericanShelter Dog.”
“The discrepancy between breedidentifcations based on opinion andDNA analysis, as well as concernsabout reliability o data collectedbased on media reports, drawsinto question the validity andenorcement o public and privatepolices pertaining to dog breeds.”
Victoria Lea VoithPhD, DVM, DACVB
Proessor, Animal Behavior,Western University