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What is in the DNA of your mongrel dog???

the mutt bookMongrel dogs are interesting because you never know what could be in their DNA. You could try to guess by how they look.

For fun, I borrowed The Mutt Book. It provides a simplistic way of decoding your dog’s heritage by helping you identify the type of ears, head shapes, body shapes, types of coat,  tail, paws and legs, etc. And where they could have come from. For greater accuracy, I also considered trying out a DNA test on Donna. But I haven’t yet. Should I? 

The Mutt Book – Decode Your Dog’s Heritage

Now it’s not a book that will make you the dog expert by any means, it’s not comprehensive in that way. But as a picture book, it was pretty fun to just flip though the pages and check out the closest approximation the author has to Donna.

Right after author David Alderton, provided a quick run-through of the variations in the different body parts, he had a section where he identified a collection of mutts by type – terrier, shepherd, hound, small dogs, hunting dogs and designer dogs.

The writer identified mongrels looking like Donna as a type of Hound.

See the bigger picture here – left page | right page

“This dog looks like a Doberman Pinscher crossed with a Rottweiler crossed with a greyhound – and that’s as good a guess as any,” he wrote. “This is a strong, athletic dog. He may tend to be strong-willed, but training will help him make a great companion.”

But mongrels are mongrels because they’ve crossed so many times, you can’t really tell what they are any more. If you saw my old post on Donna’s family tree, you will know that Donna’s traceable family are all mongrels and not all of them are black and tan mongrels like her.

Donna’s Mongrel Family Tree

donna mongrel dog's family tree

And Donna at 15kg is a smaller dog than a Doberman Pinsher or a Rottweiler. Makes me wonder what small/medium dogs had crossed to birth Donna’s father Denny, whom she takes after in terms of size.

Wonder, wonder, wonder… haha!


Isn’t it enough to just let a mongrel be a mongrel? Why the curiosity about the genetic makeup?

I guess anybody living with a mutt will be curious what type of dogs their mongrel is made up of. Sometimes I find myself idly wondering if Donna has a dash of retriever in her because of  her natural propensity to play fetch, or if she will have many years ahead of her because she has some long lived breed in her DNA. :P

Certain dog breeds do have a greater propensity to  certain health issues compared to others. Knowing the potential risks can enable both the owner and vet to keep an eye out for these specific conditions, rather than to discover it at a later stage.

“Boxers are prone to getting cancer, and Dobermans sometimes have bleeding disorders similar to hemophiliacs,” says Bernadine Cruz, DVM, associate veterinarian at California’s Laguna Hills Animal Hospital. – pets.webmd.com

As such I took some time to read up on DNA tests like the Wisdom Panel.

(Nathan Sutter, PhD, assistant professor of medical genetics at Cornell University) says such dog DNA tests can typically identify the majority breeds in a canine with great accuracy. “But if a dog is mixed breed and comes from a great many breeds, each with just a small contribution to the total, then the breed test may be unable to identify most or all of the breeds contributing to the dog,” he says. Sutter says that if a dog has a purebred parent or grandparent, the results are highly accurate. pets.webmd.com

Given that I already know both Donna’s parents are mongrels and her grandmother too,  I wondered what my chances are of getting back results that look like this! :P

imaginary Wisdom Panel DNA results of Donna mongrel dog
Curious what the real results of the Wisdom Panel DNA test look like, check out this video ;)

Although, considering Donna’s father was rescued from a breeder environment, perhaps the chance of known breeds appearing further up his line is higher. Hmmm :/ What do you think?


The Mutt Book can be bought on Amazon or loaned from the National Library Board of Singapore. My other reviews of books about dogs, click here

The Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 2.5 Breed Identification DNA Test Kit can be bought on Amazon here. 


These Distinct Adoptable  Mutts at Blk 2 Furever Canines Shelter

Anyway, I only realised belatedly that the fun part of the adoption process could be – really taking your time to get to know the individual dogs at the shelter to see who is the right one for you. :P We sort of skipped that part and landed on Donna on our first visit with the help of the shelter. HAHAH.

But there’s actually a lot of choice. I thought Donna’s black and tan coat pattern is a pretty common look for a mongrel. But my visit to Blk 2 Furever Canines showed me that mongrel dogs in shelters can look pretty distinct from one another. It’s like what The Mutt Book showed, they can have different ears, coat textures and patterns, etc under the influence of whatever breeds that could be in their genes. And that may have an influence on personality as well, not just looks.

For example, here are three dogs with three distinctly different ears and coat patterns, personality and history. The results to their Wisdom Panels DNA tests should be pretty exciting to look at :P

adopt singapore special dog Bravo
To adopt Bravo, learn more about him at Blk 2 Furever Canines Shelter| | Share on Facebook

adopt singapore dog oley
To adopt Oley, learn more about him from Blk2 Furever Canines shelter | Share on Facebook

adopt singapore dog Bailey
To adopt Bailey, learn more about Bailey aka AiAi from Blk 2 Furever Canines Shelter | Share on Facebook

And as you can see from this video on my first visit to Blk 2 Furever Canines, different dogs have different personalities. Some dogs like Yvette are highly independent and more interested in their surrounding environment than people, compared to the other dogs who trailed after me in the hopes of getting treated. (Despite the title of the video, this is the right video :P Just click play. Haha :P )

If you are considering checking out mongrel dogs like Donna or Bravo, Oley, Bailey or a runner like Yvette for adoption, you can contact Blk 2 Furever Canines to visit them, or Donna’s original shelter Gentle Paws and Friends. Both are located at the Pasir Ris Farmway 2 area. ;)


Known mix-breed or plain old mongrel

So despite my curiosity about what goes into Donna’s DNA, overall I have to say we are lucky that she is a very healthy girl with no food allergies or other more serious genetic conditions that affect her quality of life, physically or health-wise. So far. *Touch wood, HAHAHAHA*

And that is the most important really, to me. :)


What is the value in knowing which mix of breeds make up your mongrel
– Dog DNA Tests – Why your Mutt’s Make-up Matters

The Mutt Book can be bought on Amazon or loaned from the National Library Board of Singapore.
The Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 2.5 Breed Identification DNA Test Kit can be bought on Amazon here. 


Leave a comment

  1. If you have done a DNA test on your dog before, which one was it and were the results a surprise or expected?
  2. If you have a dog of a known breed, what is his/her temperament and personality like. And is it exactly what you expected? :P


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  1. The peep says that there’s no need for a test. It could come back that Kaci and Kali are a Great Dane-teacup Yorkshire terrier mix and He’d still love them. His sister got a DNA test and they mailed back a map of Europe.

  2. Sue

    I no longer believe I can determine the breeds making up any mutt due to my Rosie’s Wisdom Panel results. The shelter said her mama was a golden retriever and we all thought the daddy might be a Lab. As she grew (or rather didn’t) I thought she might have some dachshund … but her dna results came back with only 33% identified: Akita, Lab, smooth Fox Terrier. The laugh was on me! At least I know where her digging expertise comes from. LOL

  3. It’s funny because we’re trying to figure out what Penny’s father could be, as she seems to be turning out to be a medium pincher, lol. We know her Mom is 100% dobie, and Penny herself LOOKS like she’s full dobie… but her size says otherwise.

  4. Thanks for joining the blog hop!! I know a number of folks who have had the DNA Wisdom panel done and were surprised by what the results showed.

    Sampson’s mom was pure Golden Retriever, his dad was a big black dog (either a Lab or a Pit Bull). If you look at Sampson he has a big boxy head which can be Labrador, but it can also be pit bull. His chest though, to me his chest resembles a rottie or a pittie. I really would like to have a DNA panel run on him. He’s a really wonderful dog!

  5. The results that I have seen from the dna tests are not very accurate in my opinion. I think for mutts many times the dna is too diluted to really give helpful results. Also many times the results come up with some exotic breed which in my experience are not going around randomly reproducing. I think you have the right idea to just enjoy Donna for her own qualities. :) Thanks so much for joining the hop!

    • You said exactly what I suspect too. And yes, not a lot of exotic breeds running wild over here… just stray mongrels really!

  6. Mildred

    This blog caught my attention because my dog, Zoey, looks just like Donna! Same face, body shape, colors, and markings :) We got her through a rescue so we don’t really know what all she is, but we were told hound and lab mix. Her personality is independent and super smart. A lot of people think there might be some German Shepherd in her.

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