Morphology—is the dog what it looks like?

This is a Maltese I groomed in a puppy trim. They do not  grow like this .naturally. they need haircuts.

This is a Maltese I groomed in a puppy trim. They do not grow like this .naturally. they need haircuts.

I usually don’t even think about it.  I look at a dog and assign a type and it works for me.  I got to thinking about it because of a study I read by the National Canine Research Council, titled How Long Before  we Discard Visual Breed identification ?    The gist is that they feel veterinarians and shelter personnel will ‘better serve’ clients by not assigning breed to mixed breeds based on morphology:  that is, how they appear.  No reason is given in the paper, but I bet a lot has to do with  prejudices about certain breeds held by the general public. The past decade or so, genetic testing has become quite popular—but in reality, we really have no  idea how accurate these tests are.  I mean—do they really have a  gene pool for Beuacerons or Boykin Spaniels?  How about Black Russian Terriers, which have been around  as a pure breed less than 50 years?  I have read reports that  the genetic tests are only about 35% accurate.  The issue then becomes:  why even  bother if you’re not going to breed the dog?  And why would you even consider breeding a mixed breed dog with no  factual genetic information?

I was going to  get my last  Saluki tested—-but for what?  I trusted the integrity of the  breeders of this dog—as well as the breeders of his ‘ancestors’.  That’s what really counts—not  a genetic test by some lab somewhere where we have no idea how accurate THEY are!

No–the point is—the reason we assign ‘breed’,is so our  database records, we DO have some idea of morphology:  size, coat type, temperament.  As an example:  we have a Cairn mix that comes in for boarding.  Maybe it’s not a cairn. No matter. That’s what it looks like, Actually, it looks like a Podengo Piqueno.  No joke, but more of my co-workers know what a Cairn is.

We have Malinois come in that are classified as shepherd mixes, and some  Doodles that  look like Portuguese Water Dogs…and do the Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs look like a purebred dog?  or the Berger Picard?

I have to remind people that not every dog that looks cute, is, and not every dog that doesn’t look cute is not.  You have to get to know individual dogs.  Salukis and Afghans are generally going to be aloof…maybe even shy.  The terriers are generally going to be in your face.



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