I recently reached out to Mars Wisdom Panel to learn more about how they use DNA to detect breeds in dogs, and I asked them if they would like to participate in a blog series and internet radio episode I am doing on doggie DNA. They agreed, and gave me a free Wisdom Panel test to use as part of the series and episode. Please note, however, the opinions about the Wisdom Panel product expressed in the following blog series and the corresponding radio episode are solely my own.
Almost a month ago, I swabbed the cheeks of Ullr, a practically perfect pup, in hopes to find out what his breed make-up is. The test was ridiculously easy to administer, and I got the results in just 9 days! I got an email from Mars Vet with Ullr’s Wisdom Panel results that were presented in a lovely guided tour, and printable PDF. By the way, apologies for the delay in posting, but I had to wait until this past Saturday, when I revealed the results live on my internet radio show, Pet Lover Geek. As I mentioned in Part 1, most folks look at Ullr and guess that he is a Lab-Border Collie mix. Well…they were half right!
German Shepherd? Yeah…I can accept that. Frankly, I don’t see much of the physical characteristics of a GSD listed in the analysis in Ullr, though his back (saddle) and his tail definitely have some of the look you’d see in a German Shepherd. However, his personality is definitely reminiscent of a German. According to the Wisdom Panel report, the personality characteristics of German Shepherds we might see are:
Personalities can vary from calm and watchful/observant to energetic. Ullr is the most focused, observant dog I’ve ever known…and he’s super calm (except around toys and treats).
Enjoys participating in dog sports such as agility, tracking, flyball, and competitive obedience. Though he’s never done any competitive types of things, he is so smart, so trainable, and so focused, I know he would be a rock star in agility.
Eager to learn and responds well to reward-based training. 100% Ullr.
The next most dominant breed was Labrador Retriever. This was the one breed that almost everyone that meets Ullr guesses. His face and head shape have a lab “look.” He LOVES the water (no matter how cold), and Labs were bred for the cold waters of the North Atlantic, according to the Wisdom Panel description. Happy-go-lucky, friendly and food motivated…all 100% our Ullr.
After GSD & Lab, Golden Retriever is the next most dominant breed in Ullr’s Heritage. Here is what I thought was the coolest part of the test. Actually, in all fairness, it wasn’t part of the test, but part of the in-depth analysis that I got to do with Dr. Angela Hughes, Wisdom Panel’s chief veterinary geneticist, after I interviewed her for my radio show (so yeah, it’s a perk I got that other folks that do the Wisdom Panel won’t get to enjoy). She was going over the specific markers for physical traits, and she said, “You know, I bet if you turned a golden retriever’s fur black, you’d see a lot of Ullr there.” So…I asked our designer to do just that…and WOW. No, it’s not exactly what he looks like…but there are a lot of similarities. And, having been around a lot of Goldens in my childhood, I can also say it’s most likely his soft, silky fur texture comes from that breed.
The final identified breed, American Staffordshire Terrier was a bit of a head scratcher for me. Now, the test did not indicate that the “confidence” on that breed in his heritage tree was as determinant as the other three. Looks-wise, not much is visible in Ullr that is seen in an Am Staff. Personality traits, though, are definitely possible:
Intelligent, hard-working, and stoic dogs. Ullr is scary smart, and, as I mentioned earlier, incredibly focused. He’s so diligent when he is working on a training task…I can see these traits in him.
Very loyal to family and usually good with children. Absolutely Ullr. May not get along well with other dogs. Generally speaking, he does well with other dogs…but…he occasionally meets other dogs that he distinctly doesn’t like.
The rest of his background is literally…mixed. A bunch of breeds all blended into our perfect dog:
There were a lot of other cool things in the report. There was an overview of the “markers” in his genome that most likely influenced his looks. We found out that he didn’t have two markers that could have led to health issues, and that was a great relief. All in all, the results and the test report were really informative, clearly presented and offered us a lot of insight into our Ullr-boy. And more than anything, what we learned was that our sweet, funny, cuddly mutt is virtually unrepeatable (barring cloning, that is!).