Got a mutt? Discern a Dalmatian-cross from a Dingo-mix with a handy new test
It’s just like it sounds. There’s a new test out there to tell you your mixed breed’s genetic compatibility with that of a hundred-plus purebreds. Should you hanker for a reality check, go right ahead and ask your vet to look into it. She’ll Fedex a sample of serum to the lab and in a few weeks, voilá!: Fluffy’s genetically accounted for.
It might strike you as stupid but some people really gotta know…I guess. Besides the end of the age-old guessing game (which of the Heinz 57’s is he?), this new technology has a few more potentially useful qualities.
Think about the genetic diseases we vets might consider more strongly should we happen to know Fluffy’s part Akita. Or is that Malamute fur? These two breeds can be phenotypically indistinguishable (when mixed with a German shepherd, for example). But only the lab knows for sure—at least that’s what it claims.
And vets might like that—I guess. But would the expense ever make it worth our while? Ultimately, this is what tells me the benefits of this new test aren’t really geared to vets, though the test is touted in all our recent veterinary product review publications.
So here’s where the conspiracy theorist in me makes its move…marketed to vets, purportedly aimed to end all cocktail party chatter on Poopsie’s provenance… This test is aimed squarely at the forensic and regulatory crowd.
If it were only breed club registrants who had to prove their puppy mill parents were purebreds I’d be more than pleased with this advance. But, to my knowledge, it’s not something the AKC uses to screen applicants for registration—nor could it ever enforce such a thing without requiring vets or someone else to sign off on AKC paperwork (and huge expenses passed on to breeders). Perhaps an audit system?
Genetic testing tied to a microchip number might sound eerily 1984-ish, but if it keeps disreputable breeders out of business, I’d consider this an excellent step forward. It’s too bad it’s not economically feasible or I’d lay my qualms to rest right there, assuming the technology can convincingly discern a Dalmatian-cross from a Dingo-mix.
Where I’m most concerned, however, is in the potential use of such testing to effectively condemn particular dogs, especially the breed-banned pit bulls and Presa Canarios.
According to Miami-Dade County’s anti-pit bull legislation (which I despise for its short-sightedness, random enforcement, sheer ignorance and bald-faced hypocrisy), any dog that “looks” part pit can be subject to Animal Control lockup and euthanasia. (Though it’s usually enforced when only when an individual dog commits a violent or threatening act.)
In my mind, that means that Fluffy’s first and only bite, regardless of circumstances or severity, can lead straight to euthanasia if she tests positive for a partial match with pit bull genes (there might be far fewer dogs in the shelter if they tested all those, too). The ability to definitively prove breed origin through genetic testing means ordinance enforcers get more of a leg to stand on in these cases—constitutionally frail though the laws may be.
I know next to nothing about the accuracy of these tests or their current implementation but this is where my mind tends to wander when I ponder this technology. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but any test that [even theoretically] aids in the enforcement of breed-specific laws gets a big dose of my scrutiny these days.
Give me your thoughts, my well-informed readers, and clue me in. Does the AKC use these tests? How robust are they really?