- Behavior, Genetics, and “Breed”
- Public Policy
Even the most experienced animal experts cannot reliably determine a dog’s ancestry based on their appearance.
Check out some of the many studies that show the inaccuracy of visual breed identification and its consequences.
If you have a dog, you’ve probably been asked, “what kind of dog is that?” And you’ve probably asked the question yourself, whether you own a dog or not. If you don’t already know the answer, breed-guessing begins. But the fact is that we just aren’t good at this breed-guessing game,
Dogs receive their breed labels in various situations, such as at a vet visit, when they arrive at a shelter, or by their owners. But without a pedigree, those labels are most often guesses. Even guesses of shelter workers and veterinarians are neither accurate nor reliable. This unreliable information then makes its way into databases sometimes used in research studies. These studies can influence public opinion and effect policies about certain breeds.
Many, even academic, studies use unreliable data to make claims about breed and behavior. These findings can lead to unfair treatment of people who own certain dogs as well as the dogs themselves. Overall, scientists, media, veterinarians, shelter staff, and policymakers should not make broad statements about dogs who look a certain way or pass judgment about an individual dog’s behavior based on their looks.