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Doggie DNA Testing

“He wa’n’t no common dog, he wa’n’t no mongrel; he was a composite. A composite dog is a dog that is made up of all the valuable qualities that’s in the dog breed — kind of a syndicate; and a mongrel is made up of all riffraff that’s left over.”  …Mark Twain

(Many of yesterday’s Mutts are today’s Hybrid or Designer Dogs…)

Doggie DNA Testing

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Unknown Mixed Breeds

Through the marvels of DNA testing, some of the greatest mysteries of Mutt-dom are being revealed.

Dogs of vague or unrecognizable ancestry — whether fluffy white mongrels with Chihuahua ears and beagle-like voices or massive hounds that resemble nothing previously seen in nature — are being exposed for what they really are, genetically speaking.

DNA testing can disclose what breeds dominate their family trees. And thousands of people are happy to pay, about $60 to $170 depending on the method and company chosen, to end the what-do-you-suppose-he-is speculation of mixed-breed dog owners everywhere.

The first test was unveiled less than a year ago. Now, consumer interest is growing so fast that more companies are jumping into the doggie-identification business, websites are being enhanced, and additional breeds are being added to testing databases.

“Pure curiosity, getting the answer” is the reason most owners seek out the testing, says Neale Fretwell, head geneticist for Mars Veterinary, maker of the Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed Analysis. The analysis can determine which of 134 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club composes a dog’s genetic makeup.

And some of the answers are real stunners, not only for the owners but also for the veterinarians who have made their best guesses, Fretwell says.

The procedure requires an appointment with a veterinarian to draw a blood sample, and when analysis is completed in two or three weeks, a follow-up visit to discuss the findings. The pricing is set by individual veterinarians, $135 to $170.

Another reason owners go the testing route is to uncover possible explanations for behaviors that might be inherited, such as herding people and other pets or rooting around in chipmunk or mole holes.

Other owners want to know whether their dogs have a high proportion of a breed predisposed to a particular ailment or frailty, although experts caution that it’s impossible to know which traits, including propensity for disease or medical problems, a mongrel might inherit from any particular breed.

No one offering such tests suggests a mongrel assumes some sort of elevated status upon learning a purebred bloodhound or dachshund entered his ancestry generations ago.

Indeed, the companies celebrate the characteristics of mixed breeds, and some experts applaud “hybrid vigor,” the belief that mixing unrelated breeds can create a stronger, healthier dog than purebreds, which can pass on genetic conditions found in specific breeds.

Many clients are “very surprised” upon receiving word of what breeds populate their dog’s background, Fretwell says.

Meg Retinger, chief administrative officer of BioPet Vet Lab in Knoxville, Tenn., says: “Some people say, ‘That’s just exactly what I thought.’ “Others” have such preconceived notions about what their pet is they just won’t accept the results.”

In January, the lab began marketing its $59.95 DNA Breed Identification kit, which tests for 61 AKC breeds using cheek cells scraped by the owner.

But the signature appearance characteristics of a particular breed don’t always materialize, even when there’s a high proportion of that breed in a dog, Fretwell says.

A mongrel with a German shepherd parent or grandparent, for example, might not have the black and tan coloring, the saddle pattern on its back or even the long muzzle. Some could not show any shepherd characteristics.

Size, color and a host of physical features such as ear and muzzle shape and tail type are influenced by genetics, and when several breeds meld in one dog, it’s tough for even experts to eyeball a mutt and accurately assess what lies within.

Connie Steele of Colorado Springs learned that. This year she adopted a black-and-white dog that shelter personnel thought was mostly border collie and about 1½ years old. She soon discovered from her veterinarian that Ellie was still a puppy, probably less border collie than believed and almost certain to grow a lot more.

Steele had Ellie tested because, she jokes, she wanted “a bit of warning if I’m going to need to plan ahead for a larger house to accommodate a 2-year-old pony-sized dog.”

Upon receiving Ellie’s results, Steele did not begin house-shopping, though she was surprised by the breeds found in her background. Steele believes the information she now has about Ellie and also Kayla, another recently adopted shelter dog, offers clues about how to approach their training.

Most DNA tests show three or four different breeds in the mixed breeds’ ancestries, and many show five or six, experts say. Several more probably are in the mix, but the amounts have been so dissipated over the generations, they are merely weak traces, unlikely to influence a dog’s appearance or behavior.

And, yes, a few dogs comprise so many disparate breeds, the experts and their tests just can’t solve the puzzle.

“Even the best test can’t answer every question of biology,” says Dennis Fantin, chief of operations for MetaMorphix, a company in Beltsville, Md., that has done testing for the AKC for years. The company now offers a $119.95 mixed-breed cheek-swab kit. The Canine Heritage XL Breed Test can detect 108 breeds.

Sometimes, any pure DNA has become “so diluted” by encounters with mixed breeds over the generations that no answers emerge, Fantin says.

Their owners are told the mystery must remain.

From USA Today

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Chiweenies          &              Chorkies

Designer Breeds

“My name is Oprah Winfrey. I have a talk show. I’m single. I have eight dogs — five golden retrievers, two black labs, and a mongrel. I have four years of college.”  …Oprah Winfrey, when asked to describe herself during jury selection

Join Us At ‘Just One More… Pet’… in the Fight Against Unnecessary Pet Euthanization By Finding Loving Homes for Unwanted and Abandoned Pets

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Many of yesterday’s Mutts are today’s Hybrid or Designer Dogs…

“He wa’n’t no common dog, he wa’n’t no mongrel; he was a composite. A composite dog is a dog that is made up of all the valuable qualities that’s in the dog breed — kind of a syndicate; and a mongrel is made up of all riffraff that’s left over.”  …Mark Twain

(Many of yesterday’s Mutts are today’s Hybrid or Designer Dogs…)

Doggie DNA Testing

Big Family

 

Unknown Mixed Breeds

Cheech and Duke

Through the marvels of DNA testing, some of the greatest mysteries of Mutt-dom are being revealed.

Dogs of vague or unrecognizable ancestry — whether fluffy white mongrels with Chihuahua ears and beagle-like voices or massive hounds that resemble nothing previously seen in nature — are being exposed for what they really are, genetically speaking.

DNA testing can disclose what breeds dominate their family trees. And thousands of people are happy to pay, about $60 to $170 depending on the method and company chosen, to end the what-do-you-suppose-he-is speculation of mixed-breed dog owners everywhere.

The first test was unveiled less than a year ago. Now, consumer interest is growing so fast that more companies are jumping into the doggie-identification business, websites are being enhanced, and additional breeds are being added to testing databases.

“Pure curiosity, getting the answer” is the reason most owners seek out the testing, says Neale Fretwell, head geneticist for Mars Veterinary, maker of the Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed Analysis. The analysis can determine which of 134 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club composes a dog’s genetic makeup.

And some of the answers are real stunners, not only for the owners but also for the veterinarians who have made their best guesses, Fretwell says.

The procedure requires an appointment with a veterinarian to draw a blood sample, and when analysis is completed in two or three weeks, a follow-up visit to discuss the findings. The pricing is set by individual veterinarians, $135 to $170.

Another reason owners go the testing route is to uncover possible explanations for behaviors that might be inherited, such as herding people and other pets or rooting around in chipmunk or mole holes.

Other owners want to know whether their dogs have a high proportion of a breed predisposed to a particular ailment or frailty, although experts caution that it’s impossible to know which traits, including propensity for disease or medical problems, a mongrel might inherit from any particular breed.

No one offering such tests suggests a mongrel assumes some sort of elevated status upon learning a purebred bloodhound or dachshund entered his ancestry generations ago.

Indeed, the companies celebrate the characteristics of mixed breeds, and some experts applaud “hybrid vigor,” the belief that mixing unrelated breeds can create a stronger, healthier dog than purebreds, which can pass on genetic conditions found in specific breeds.

Many clients are “very surprised” upon receiving word of what breeds populate their dog’s background, Fretwell says.

Meg Retinger, chief administrative officer of BioPet Vet Lab in Knoxville, Tenn., says: “Some people say, ‘That’s just exactly what I thought.’ “Others” have such preconceived notions about what their pet is they just won’t accept the results.”

In January, the lab began marketing its $59.95 DNA Breed Identification kit, which tests for 61 AKC breeds using cheek cells scraped by the owner.

But the signature appearance characteristics of a particular breed don’t always materialize, even when there’s a high proportion of that breed in a dog, Fretwell says.

A mongrel with a German shepherd parent or grandparent, for example, might not have the black and tan coloring, the saddle pattern on its back or even the long muzzle. Some could not show any shepherd characteristics.

Size, color and a host of physical features such as ear and muzzle shape and tail type are influenced by genetics, and when several breeds meld in one dog, it’s tough for even experts to eyeball a mutt and accurately assess what lies within.

Connie Steele of Colorado Springs learned that. This year she adopted a black-and-white dog that shelter personnel thought was mostly border collie and about 1½ years old. She soon discovered from her veterinarian that Ellie was still a puppy, probably less border collie than believed and almost certain to grow a lot more.

Steele had Ellie tested because, she jokes, she wanted “a bit of warning if I’m going to need to plan ahead for a larger house to accommodate a 2-year-old pony-sized dog.”

Upon receiving Ellie’s results, Steele did not begin house-shopping, though she was surprised by the breeds found in her background. Steele believes the information she now has about Ellie and also Kayla, another recently adopted shelter dog, offers clues about how to approach their training.

Most DNA tests show three or four different breeds in the mixed breeds’ ancestries, and many show five or six, experts say. Several more probably are in the mix, but the amounts have been so dissipated over the generations, they are merely weak traces, unlikely to influence a dog’s appearance or behavior.

And, yes, a few dogs comprise so many disparate breeds, the experts and their tests just can’t solve the puzzle.

“Even the best test can’t answer every question of biology,” says Dennis Fantin, chief of operations for MetaMorphix, a company in Beltsville, Md., that has done testing for the AKC for years. The company now offers a $119.95 mixed-breed cheek-swab kit. The Canine Heritage XL Breed Test can detect 108 breeds.

Sometimes, any pure DNA has become “so diluted” by encounters with mixed breeds over the generations that no answers emerge, Fantin says.

Their owners are told the mystery must remain.

From USA Today

Chorkies           &              Chiweenies

Designer Breeds

“My name is Oprah Winfrey. I have a talk show. I’m single. I have eight dogs — five golden retrievers, two black labs, and a mongrel. I have four years of college.”  …Oprah Winfrey, when asked to describe herself during jury selection

50

Join Us At ‘Just One More… Pet’

…in the Fight Against Unnecessary Pet Euthanization By Finding Loving Homes for Unwanted and Abandoned Pets, by Adopting Just One More Pet and By Fighting Legislation That Restricts Pet Owners To Less Than a Combination of 4-Pets   

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, pet products, Pets, responsible pet ownership, Stop Euthenization, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New First Pooch Is Arriving Soon

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Warren Harding with Laddie Boy Library Of Congress / Getty ENLARGE + Print EmailShare ReprintsRelated

During the dog days of last summer, perhaps the most important looming decision facing Barack Obama was choosing a dog for his girls.  Way back, as he set out on this quest for the Presidency, he made the one campaign promise he absolutely could not break: that when it was all over, whatever the outcome, his daughters could get a dog.  And if they ended up at Pennsylvannia Avenue the pup would certainly not be the first dog or pet in the White House so would have a long legacy of presidential pets to follow and live up to.

Things have changed since the days when George Washington could name his hounds Drunkard, Tipler and Tipsy. Warren Harding’s Airedale Laddie Boy had a valet and occupied a hand-carved chair at Cabinet meetings. Ulysses S. Grant told his White House staff that if anything happened to his son’s beloved Newfoundland, they’d all be fired. Teddy Roosevelt had, along with a badger, a toad, some snakes and a pig, a bull terrier named Pete who once ripped the pants of a French ambassador. Cousin Franklin’s dog Fala had a press secretary, starred in a movie and was named an honorary private in the Army. George H.W. Bush’s springer spaniel Millie wrote a book, which sold more copies than the President’s autobiography. And then, of course, there was Checkers. Harry Truman supposedly once said, You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog. ( By Nancy Gibbs/TIME)

It’s hard enough to pick the right dog.  But adding the fact that you may be the First Family and need a hypoallergenic breed increases the difficulty of the process.  So the American Kennel Club (AKC), hoping to help ensure the 23rd purebred dog into the White House, conducted a survey. The public could even vote online for the type of dog they thought the Obamas should get for the AKC survey, and other groups sponsored similar surveys. Since first daughter Malia has allergies, the AKC limited the ballot choice to five hypoallergenic breeds. It suggested the bichon frise with its history as a companion to French noblemen implying qualification of the breed for the White House. But perhaps it was not the exact image the Obamas were looking for. It recommended the miniature schnauzer as an excellent watchdog, for a little added security (although probably not needed), and the soft-coated wheaten terrior with its sweet-temperament as a positive goodwill ambassador, though it “must be handled firmly and with consistency,” which also may not have been the ideal characteristic choice for the candidate of Change.

The AKC’s preference for purebreds, however, missed the obvious stellar opportunity for the Obamapup. Surely a self-proclaimed postpartisan reformer, who promised to ‘reach across the aisle’,  would lean toward some stunningly blended mutt, a rescued shelter dog or at least one of the American Canine Hybrid Club’s 500 plus registered hybrids. Afterall, the hybrid pooch or designer dog was bred to give you the best of both breeds: a Labradoodle, a Peke-a-Poo, a Bagle (half basset, half beagle) or a Chiweenie (half chihuahua, half dachshund). A bully pulpit seeking candidate might like the Bullypit (a bulldog-pit-bull mix), or he could go for a Sharmatian–part Chinese Shar-Pei, part Dalmatian–and get the whole East-and-West, black-and-white thing going in one single pooch.

There was even a suggestion during the campaign, that their decision for a type of dog, if not actually getting one before the election,  should be moved up, given the competition from the ‘McCainines’. An AP–Yahoo News poll last June (2008) found that pet owners favored John McCain over Obama, 42% to 37%, with an even bigger margin among dog owners. One participant explained that it “tells you that they’re responsible at least for something, for the care of something.” Or, in the McCains’ case, “many somethings”:  their menagerie includes a slew of fish, some parakeets, turtles Cuff and Link, Oreo the cat and four dogs, including terriers Lucy and Desi. Obama could take comfort in his 14-point lead among non–pet owners, except that they form a definate minority of U.S. households.

The Obamas were pre-warned, that although a good one, they were definitely looking at another major life change by getting a dog for the first time. “A dog was never an option in the apartment where I grew up”, said Obama, “and my daughters knew that training the dog they so desperately wanted was nothing compared with training me to accept one”.

portuguese_water_dogWell it is now two and a half months into the presidency and still no first dog, and it seems like the whole world, at least the pet loving world, is waiting for their choice and the arrival of the first pooch.  The word from First Lady Michelle is April, after their Spring Break family vacation, and possibly a Portuguese Water Dog…  and not a puppy (which could mean that in the end the AKC got their next purebred into the White House afterall).  Senator Ted Kennedy, whose neice Caroline got a pony while in the White House, highly recommended the breed.  He has two.  Their coat is a single layer and does not shed. In most cases, these dogs are hypo- allergenic, making them a good choice for those that have allergies.

So, there will be a new pooch frolicking on the South Lawn by the end of this month.

The next obvious question for speculation, of course, is the perfect name for the next first dog. Some suggest the Obamas should just get two, one for each of the girls, and call them Hope and Change.  Of course there are others that suggest getting two dogs but calling them Smoke and Mirror or Fear and “Quo”, for Status Quo, would be the best call, but that would be a subject for another type of blog or article.

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By Marion Algier/Ask Marion – Posted – Just One More Pet

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Rescues, Just One More Pet, Pets, Political Change, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments