“What do you think she is?” This is a common question among owners of mixed breed dogs. For years veterinarians could only guess the answer based on the the dog’s physical similarities to known breeds. No more guessing. We can now determining the genetic makeup of mixed breed dog’s with reasonable certainty. The Wisdom Panel was developed by Mars (apparently they don’t just make M&M’s anymore!) over the course of the last 12 years. The test compares your dog’s DNA to specific genetic markers which have been identified in over 120 known breeds. Results are sometimes very surprising as the breeds that are detected are not always easy to visualize in the pet.
At least 12.5% of any one particular breed has to be present in the genetic make-up of a mixed dog for the test to accurately detect it. The Wisdom Panel has shown that as breeds mix, there are some traits which disappear sooner than others. For instance, flat faces (brachycephalic) usually disappear within one generation of breeding a brachycephalic dog with a non-brachycephalic dog. Extremes in size, either large or small, are lost quickly. This results in most mixed breed dogs shifting toward being medium-sized. The color white often disappears within one generation, causing many mixed breed dogs to be brown/ginger in color rather than spotted like a Dalmatian. As a result, many mixed breed dogs look like Labradors and Beagles, even if their genetic make-up contains neither breed.
It’s always fun to know the genetic make-up of a mixed breed dog. Often it explains not only the physical but also the behavior traits of your mixed breed dog. The test can also help direct veterinarians to observe for diseases that might be more likely to occur in your mixed breed dog, since some conditions are very breed specific.