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The Big DNA Reveal: Boogie

The guesses for Boogie were really interesting and Boogie was particularly flattered that some of you think he’s a pretty handsome dude. He’s been bugging me for his own Facebook page, ever since I let him read your comments.

Before I reveal Boogie’s DNA results, which are far more complicated than Birdie’s results, I thought I’d share what Boogie’s dad and I thought he was, based on behavior and physical characteristics.

Boogie is muscular, but slender compared to the average pit bull.  Also, his fur is much longer and his tail is much thicker. So it was clear to us that he was a mix.

Completely obsessed with playing ball, Boogie reminds us of a Lab. He was a stray dog found in the backwoods of Maine, so it also made sense that he might be a Lab mix because (you may not know this if you’re from away) Mainers are required, by law, to own Black Labs. Ok, maybe it’s not a law, but they’re the state dog, no doubt about it.

So our guess was Lab mix. And we weren’t sure if there would be any pit bull markers in the results at all.

Or he might be a pure bred DINOS:

So what did Boogie turn out to be? Here are the results!

Boogie's DNA results


What’s the deal with all those mixed breeds in there, you ask?

Here are the five other breeds that they report are present in his DNA panel:


Boogie's DNA results

So what does this mean for Boogie? It means he’s not a Lab! It also means he’s, in all likelihood, a pit bull. 

In an explanation of the various breeds that are present in his results, here’s what Wisdom has to say about DNA testing for pit bulls:

“The term “Pitbull” does not refer to a single or recognized breed of dog, but rather to a genetically diverse group of breeds.  Pit bull type dogs have historically been bred by combining guarding type breeds with terriers for certain desired characteristics – and as such they may retain many genetic similarities to the likely progenitor breeds and other closely related breeds.  If a pit bull type dog were tested, we might anticipate that the Wisdom Panel test might detect and report moderate to trace amounts of one or more distantly related breeds to those used to breed the dog, it is possible that one or more of the following breeds might be detected at moderate to trace amounts: the American Staffordshire terrier, Boston terrier, Bull terrier, Staffordshire Bull terrier, Mastiff, Bullmastiff Boxer, Bulldog and various small terriers like the Parson Russell.  These breeds would be detected because some markers in these breeds have genetic identity at a minority of the markers the Wisdom Panel test uses to the breeds in our database.

Mars Veterinary’s analysis of the many Pitbull type breeds, which are known to be closely related, indicates that this diverse group of dogs could be one or a mixture of American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull terrier, Boston Terrier and some Bulldog.  Due to the genetic diversity of this group, we cannot build a DNA profile for the Pitbull.  Any Pitbull type breed tested using Wisdom Panel™ MX Mixed Breed Analysis is likely to reveal a combination of several breeds.  For example, a Pitbull type breed might show up as 25% Boston Terrier, 25% American Staffordshire Terrier and 50% unknown.”

Since all of those breeds showed up in his DNA results, it turns out Boogie is probably a pit bull after all.  Well, sort of, since he’s also got a little bit of  Brittany and Irish Setter in there too. Does anyone else find this confusing?

On a serious note: pit bull type dogs are banned and discriminated against around the world, based not on their individual actions, but because of the way they look.  

So, in the eyes of the law: is Boogie a pit bull?  If so, is it because of the way he looks? Or because his DNA test list breeds that are historically related to pit bull type dogs?

Does it matter what he is?  Can anyone determine how safe (or worthy of compassion) a dog is by his appearance or his DNA results?  Of course not.

No matter what Boogie’s breed mix is, he is just a dog. He loves to play ball and I love him. He’s a treasured member of our family: he’s Birdie’s brother, a play thing for our cats, and my husband’s best friend.

I have every right to share my life with my pit bull.

Or my Irish Setter mix…

You know what I mean.

The Big DNA Reveal:Birdie

The guesses are in and although no one got it quite right (it would have been a miracle!), Birdie thanks you all for throwing out so many small breeds, like the Jack Russell and Fox Terrier.  She’s a little self-conscious about her weight, so it was a big ego boost for Birdie that so many of you think she’s a petite little gal.

Before you see Birdie’s results, I’d like to tell you what Birdie’s dad and I thought she was, based on her behavior and physical characteristics.

There was no doubt in our minds that she was part Beagle, but Birdie is 40lbs. Too big to be a Beagle.  Plus she never, ever makes any noise. I think she barked once two years ago.  And once the year before that. Not very hound-ish.

She’s also really broad chested. Even though she’s much smaller than Boogie, her chest is the same width. When we try to buy her coats, we always have to look for extra stretch, otherwise she pops the front clasp open like the Hulk.  Plus, she has a very wide stance in the front and is strong as an ox.  So our guess was that Birdie was part Beagle, part American Bulldog.

Or part cowgirl:



So what did the Bird turn out to be?  Here are her results!


Birdie’s DNA Results

It turns out that we have a Beagle, Mastiff, Shepherd mix!  We were really surprised by the Belgian Tervuren, but not as surprised as you’d think by the Dogue de Bordeaux. Maybe that would explain why Birdie is built like a brick house. I have no idea how accurate this is, but it confirms that she is a Beagle mix and now we’re having a lot of fun referring to her as a Mastiff.

So, how should I break the news to Birdie that she’s not a Jewish Beagle from New Jersey?

Next up: Boogie’s Results…

All I Want for Christmas is Dog DNA

I have a confession to make. Along with reading piles of magazines, taking quizzes is one of my favorite guilty pleasures in life.  I’ll take short, silly quizzes (If I were a loaf of bread, what kind of bread would I be?) and long, involved personality tests, like the Myers Briggs. I take them for fun or to help me figure out my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve taken countless career assessment tests, all of which tell me I should be a therapist, a teacher, or a minister. I may not listen to the results, but I really like taking the tests.

So when I discovered that I could do a cheek swab DNA test at home on my two dogs, Birdie and Boogie, I was powerless to resist. I didn’t care what the results were (I love them no matter what). I didn’t care if the tests were 100% accurate. I just wanted to give my mixed breed dogs the ultimate quiz! So as a Hanukkah and Christmas gift to myself, I ordered two DNA test kits from Wisdom. Last month I swabbed their cheeks, sent the kits back to the lab, and have been patiently waiting for the results to come back.


birdie and boogie

photo by Meredith Purdue © 2011 Maine Dog Photography & unlimited dogs


Side Note: For any of you interested in doing this, swabbing the inside of a dog’s cheek turned out to be a little trickier than I thought it would be. Birdie wanted to eat the swab and then I fumbled it on the way out of her mouth, causing it to rub against the palm of my hand. Luckily, they give you two swabs per dog, so I got a second chance to do it right.  I sent both swabs back, per the instructions, and figured if Birdie’s DNA results came back as a Jewish Beagle from New Jersey, this kit was legit.

I just got the test results back and I’m dying to share, but before I do, here’s a little quiz for you. Take a look at their photos below and, in the comments section, give me your best guesses on what breed mix you think they might be. I’ll reveal the actual results later this week!

Here are some hints:

Birdie is 40 pounds and she was listed as a “Beagle Mix” on her adoption paperwork.

Boogie is 50 pounds and he was labeled a “Pit Bull” on his adoption paperwork.

(DNA test info:  Because Boogie has been labeled a pit bull, I should share that Wisdom cannot test for the breed “pit bull”, due to the genetic diversity of dogs within this group. However other dog breeds, that were historically related to the American Pit Bull Terrier, often show up in DNA tests – for instance: American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bulldog, and the Boston Terrier.  If you’d like to read more, Wisdom explains it here.)

Let the guessing begin!