How to Identify a Mixed Breed Dog

No matter what your dog's pedigree (or lack thereof), you love it just the same. But uncovering your mixed breed dog's origins will not only satisfy your curiosity, it will help you to train and groom your dog better. Most importantly, knowing your dog's breeds will enable you to give them the best medical care specific to their needs [source: NHGRI]. Just follow these steps to identify your dog's breeds.

  1. Observe your dog's distinguishing characteristics. A dog's face, size, color, hair type, hair length, legs, body and tail can provide clues to help you identify your dog's breeds. By referencing a book of dog breeds, you can narrow down the options. Keep in mind that physical traits are not always sure signs of a dog's breed. Multiple dogs may have the same genetic traits or your dog's parents may have been mixed breeds, so be sure to keep an open mind [source: Welton].
  2. Monitor your dog's behavior. Certain breeds of dogs are disposed to specific behaviors and temperaments. By determining characteristics like whether your dog plays well with other dogs, has high energy levels or has a tendency to bite, you can identify some of the possible breeds.
  3. Review your dog's medical records. Some breeds of dogs are more prone to specific diseases or health conditions. If your dog has persistent health problems, discuss the breeds that are predisposed to these conditions with your veterinarian.
  4. Purchase a DNA analysis kit and test your dog's DNA. Through tissue collected from the inside of your dog's cheek, breed test kits can determine the genetic makeup of your dog. Be aware that results are not always 100% accurate, especially if your dog's parents are mixed breeds as well.
  5. Contact your veterinarian. Vets are knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to dog breeds and health. Set up an appointment with your vet to discuss your guesses and their suggestions.