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A Comparison of Visual and DNA identification of breeds of dogs

A Comparison of Visual and DNA identification of breeds of dogs

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Published by nikko6
Dr. Voith's study demonstrating that visual identification of mixed breeds dogs are not reliable
Dr. Voith's study demonstrating that visual identification of mixed breeds dogs are not reliable

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Published by: nikko6 on Aug 03, 2010
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a comparison of visual and dna
identification of breeds of dogs
We are all aware o the newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that show pictures o dogsand then reveal DNA breed analyses o the dogs. Surprisethe DNA results are not what were expectedbased on the appearance o the dogs or the owners’ belies. Those o us who walk through shelters andanimal control acilities compare the posted breed descriptions o the dogs to what they look like to uswith requent dierences o opinions. Those who have worked at shelters and similar acilities are awarethat as dogs move through the steps in admission or during their stay that their breed descriptions maychange. It is my impression, when visiting animal control or adoption agencies, that most medium to largesize dogs with straight, short/ medium length brown hair coats are cast as German shepherds or shepherdmixes, dogs with a black spot on their tongues are designated Chow mixes,and most medium sized, stocky, broad headed, small eared dogs with ashort hair coats are pitbulls or pit-bull mixes.It is not easy to visually identiy the breeds o dogs o unknown parentageaccurately. Sometimes dogs just don’t look like either parent. Scott andFuller’s work on the genetics and social behavior o dogs involved study-ing purebred dogs, F1 crosses o purebreds, backcrosses and F2 crosses.
 Photographs o some o these F1 and F2 puppies depict that they do notresemble either purebred parent, nor do the photographs o the F2 genera-tions dogs look like their mixed breed parents. We don’t know how manyo the ospring did look like their purebred ancestors, but clearly not allresembled parents or grandparents.Shelter dog breed assignments may be based on what the dogs look liketo someone at the shelter or because owners relinquishing their dogs haveidentifed the dogs as a specifc breed. Newborn and young puppies may beidentifed as a certain breed because the mother dog resembled a purebreddog. In the latter case, the sire o the litter could have been any breed orseveral dogs could have athered puppies in the same litter. When the pup-pies grow up they don’t look anything like their mother or litter mates. Thesebreed or mixed breed identifcations may eventually fnd their way into databasesbe it through population data, dog bites, serious dog attacks, behav-ior problems, or disease statistics.Rarely are owners permitted to simply fll out orms that ask about the breedby only stating that the dog is a mixed breed or o unknown parentage. Ithey do so, the ollow-up question oten is “What is it mostly?”, or “Whatis its most predominant breed?”, or “What does it look like mostly?” Thisinormation may be solicited by insurance companies, landlords, housingassociations, licensing agencies, mandatory dog bite reports, veterinary
“the DNA resultsare not whatwere expectedbased on theappearance othe dogs or theowners’ belies.”
by Victoria L Voith PhD, DVM, DACVB
Published in Proceedings o Annual AVMA
Convention, July 11-14, 2009 Seattle Washington
medical records, the media, and researchers try-ing to determine the likelihood o involvement ospecifc 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 othe impetus or manyrecommendations andrestrictions intended toreduce dog bites.High profle articlesin JAMA and JAVMAhave reported dog biteatalities and listedbreeds involved in suchattacks.
The dataused was obtained by“combining data romthe National Centeror 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 Welare 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 othe time, are not inallible. 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. Dierent testing laboratoriesmay report dierentresults depending onwhich dogs were usedto develop their stan-dards and how thelaboratories analyze thesamples.
As the testsare refned, the samelaboratory may reportslightly dierent resultsat dierent points intime.The discrepancybetween breed iden-tifcations based onopinion and DNAanalysis, as well as concerns about reliability odata collected based on media reports, draws intoquestion the validity and enorcement 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 andenorcement o public and privatepolices pertaining to dog breeds.”
 Victoria Lea VoithPhD, DVM, DACVB
Proessor, Animal Behavior,Western University

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