Inaccuracy of Breed Labels Assigned to Dogs of Unknown Origin
In a second paper published in 2013, Dr. Voith and her colleagues surveyed more than 900 people in dog-related professions and services and showed that respondents frequently disagreed with each other when making visual breed identifications of the same dog, and that their opinions may or may not have correlated with DNA breed analysis.More than 70% of the study participants reported that now or at one time, their breed descriptors were used in record keeping. The results of the survey call into question the validity of a variety of data that has been collected over the decades pertaining to breed identification of dogs.
In this video interview, Dr. Voith describes her research, which concludes that there is little correlation between dog adoption agencies' visual breed identification and the probable breed composition of dogs of unknown genetic origin (mixed breed dogs).
Two separate, additional studies conducted at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida, further confirm the unreliability of visual breed identification used by dog adoption agencies, animal control (lost and found), and in regulation. Click below to read NCRC's two whitepapers discussing the significance of the findings in each, and to view the poster associated with the first study.
It is customary in our society to look at a dog and guess its breed or breed composition. In fact, our reporting on dogs (for example: in a veterinarian's record-keeping, when licensed or when admitted to an animal care and control agency) will usually require these guesses. Statistical compliations of these guesses then make their way into official or academic reports that influence how we view - even how we may feel we ought to regulate - different "breeds" of dogs.
The results of the studies conducted at Western University and the University of Florida have shown that our guesses do not correspond with DNA analysis of the same dogs, which properly calls into question these statistical compilations, views, and regulations.
An article by two veterinarians and an attorney published in November 2012 in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) has considered the implications of these undisputed findings for veterinary practice, and recommends that veterinarians stop attempting to assign breed labels to mixed-breed dogs whose origin they do not know. Click on the thumbnail above for NCRC's summary of the JAVMA paper.
NCRC has developed a series of posters that further illustrate the problem with visual breed identification. The photos on each poster (below) were obtained from the Mars Wisdom Panel™ website, along with the DNA analysis of each dog pictured. Look at each picture, then compare your guess with the DNA analysis at the bottom.
Read and Learn.
Expand your understanding with these additional resources:
- The Relevance of Breed in Selecting a Companion Dog, Janis Bradley
- Video Interview with Janis Bradley
- Breed Labeling Dogs of Unknown Origin, Amy Marder, V.M.D., CAAB and Bernice Clifford, CPDT
- Breed Specific or Looks Specific, Kristopher Irizarry, Ph.D.
- Video Interview with Dr. Kristopher Irizarry
- Don't Let Liability Hysteria Keep You From Sending Good Dogs Home, Bonnie Lutz, Esq.
- Breeds and Behavior, by Janis Bradley, The Bark, April/May 2011.
- Canadian study shows no difference in suitability as pets between "pit bull" dogs and other kinds of dogs, MacNeil et al
- It's Not Just Semantics, Words Do Matter, by Pamela J. Reid, Ph.D., CAAB.
- Swedish Study found no link between modern breeds and their traditional work.
Better understand canines in your own home and/or community.
Click here to read this NCRC interview with Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, author of the best-selling book, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know.