What Breed of Dog is That?

two pictures of the same brindle mixed breed one year apart.

“What breed of dog is that?” This is one of the most common questions we hear at the Humane Society of Utah. What breed would you guess for this Utah Humane Society alum, Rosco? Rosco came to our shelter two years ago with his littermates. His family recently sent her DNA results to us, which we have shared below. 

Even the most experienced dog lovers don’t know a dog’s mixed-lineage or exact breed without a DNA test. One study found that 90 percent of a dog’s breed that was guessed by shelter staff didn’t match the predominant breed identified through DNA analysis. Another study revealed that experts seldom agree on their breed guesses, so one person’s Mastiff mix is another’s Boxer mix or Lab-hound mix.

As a result, you’ll now find most “mixed-breed” dogs on our website are labeled as small, medium, or large mixed-breed. Since most dogs who come to our shelter don’t have pedigree papers, most people may try to label them by the breeds they most closely resemble, leading adopters to make assumptions about their personalities and future behavior based on these breed guesses.

The truth is, there is a wide range of behavior, even in purebred dogs. For example, a purebred field Golden Retriever will behave differently than a purebred show or pet Golden Retriever. Now, mix three or four breeds into one dog and it’s anybody’s guess as to which personality and behavior traits will shine through. Each dog has a genetic predisposition and unique learning history that shapes its personality. This is why we encourage people to meet each dog they are interested in adopting in person instead of making assumptions based on a breed label. Treat the dog in front of you as an individual, and get to know each dog’s unique personality to see if he or she is the right fit for you!