Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Genes N' Things

Having two "pound puppies" and a background in biology, I have always been curious about my dogs' heritage. Although my dogs look very much like "Pit Bulls", I knew the likelihood of them being purebred was very low. To further add to the mystery, dogs are unique in that very subtle differences to their DNA can result in a great variation of phenotype. As a result, without a DNA test a guess as to any dog's particular heritage is simply that: a guess. (As my friend Larry says, "They're all AKC; All Kinds of Canine.) So when the online canine DNA tests went on sale, of course I ordered one immediately.  

I decided to test Willa (AKA Willa Beans, AKA Wilda Beans, AKA Beans) because, although she looks very much like a "Pit Bull" type dog, I had some indications she may be a little more exotic.

When she was an older pup (I adopted her from San Luis Obispo Animal Services when she was seven months old) she was pretty wrinkly, so much so that people constantly asked if she was a Shar Pei mix. Shar Pei's are not the most common breed, so I doubted it, but you never know. Then, when she was three years old and after two unnecessary gastrointestinal surgeries she was (finally) diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Disease, which is not uncommon to Shar Pei's, so it seemed to lend some credence to that theory. Plus, her brother looked very Boxery, so I thought Boxer may be in the mix, too. 

I was dying to know what other breeds she may be hiding. Australian Shepherd? Bichon Frise? Husky? Corgi? The possibilities were tantalizing! So three weeks ago I sent off a sample of her genetic material and waited.

Last night I logged in to my account to discover the results had been analysed (!) and (drumroll here)... Willa is 75% purebred American Staffordshire Terrier. 

Talk about anticlimactic. 

But I held out hope for that other 25%, so I turned to the page on her mixed-breed ancestry which revealed (once again with the drumroll while I quote from the results here)... "Willa's ancestry was mixed beyond the three generations we test for."

Translation: she is too much of a mutt to tell. Their best guess based on genetic markers? American Staffordshire Terrier.

Are you kidding me?

I purchased a DNA test to determine the ancestry of a dog I knew was a "Pit Bull" mix only to find out that that, to the best of scientific determination, she's a "Pit Bull" mix. 

Least satisfying test results ever.

It's a good thing she's such a good dog, otherwise I'd be disappointed.


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