Your Designer Dog Could Be A Fraud

Owners might not like what they learn from doggie DNA tests…

By Erin Kirkpatrick

Sometimes, we learn things that we wish we hadn’t. Ignorance can be blissful, but in the end, it’s still ignorance, right?

For curious dog owners who test their beloved dog’s DNA, ignorance is replaced with information and bliss becomes betrayal when the results come in.

People lie but lineage doesn’t.

While genetic makeup should have no bearing on how an owner views their dog, it’s painful knowing that thousands of dollars were shelled out for a dog they could have adopted at a shelter for a fraction of the price. It’s hard to pinpoint how these mixups happen — Are backyard breeders to blame? Are these mixups unintentional? The answers, if there are any, are only available on a case-by-case basis.

Credit: YouTube / Inside Edition

Inside Edition interviewed Phyllis Von Saspe of New York after she had her “designer” dog Emma’s DNA tested. Von Saspe wanted to know if her $1,700 Shorkie — a mix of Shih Tzu and Yorkie — was who she claimed to be.

Credit: YouTube / Inside Edition

The dog was let out of the bag…

It turns out, Emma, who was purchased from a Washington State breeder, was a mutt — part Shih Tzu, part Pomeranian — and not a Shorkie.

These breed baffles happen a lot more than we think.

Credit: YouTube / Inside Edition

Cliff Mintz is another owner who was deceived until DNA sorted things out. Mintz wanted to learn more about his purebred Havanese named Moose. Mintz soon learned that his dog, purchased from a New Jersey breeder, was actually part Shih Tzu, part Havanese.

Credit: YouTube / Inside Edition

Mintz and Von Saspe both paid top-dollar for purebred dogs only to find out that they’d been had. The good news was that this had no impact on the pet owners’ love for their precious pets. The bad news was they were taken advantage of.

How can owners protect themselves from cases of mistaken dog identity? It’s a complicated battle as even organizations charged to surveil the DNA domains aren’t helping the situation. The Kennel Club registers over 200,000 “pedigree dogs” every year, and it costs ~$20 to register a litter. After the money has changed hands, you have “accredited ‘proof’ that the dog or litter is from the same bloodline as the other animals on the pedigree.”

Credit: The Winston Blog

False registrations and the sale of dogs with false pedigrees have been documented, but the only thing the Kennel Club can do is ban or cancel memberships. Unfortunately, no preventive measures are being taken.

Now, another question worth considering while we’re on the topic of doggie DNA is how accurate the tests really are…

Credit: Twitter / @BeccaRushworth

Austin resident Becca Rushworth was curious about what breeds pulled together to create her adopted dog Stoney. So, she decided to invest in a DNA test to get answers. When the results came back, she learned that Stoney was a Siberian Husky-Bull Dog-Catahoula Leapord dog mix.

Still not satisfied with this conclusion, Rushworth decided to purchase a different DNA test. The results of the second test showed that Stoney was a Border Collie-Alaskan Malamute-Chow Chow-Dalmatian-Keeshond mix.

Credit: Twitter / @BeccaRushworth

Not a single result overlapped, and both companies stood behind their results.

According to Mike Wilson, director of the Genomic Sequencing and Analysis Facility at the University of Texas at Austin, “the original dog DNA each company used to develop their test directly impacts their results.” The first DNA analysis tested for 84 breeds, while the second one tested for more than 250. The sample size had a direct impact on the results.

Again, it is worth noting that the genetic makeup, whether it’s what you were looking for or not, shouldn’t impact the bond you share with your pooch! In addition to “sort of”  identifying dogs’ breeds (part bunny, perhaps?), DNA test can also help owners determine if their pets are allergic to medicines or have any genetic disorders.

So, while you’re uncovering the breeds that combine to make your beloved companions, why not tack on a test that could end up saving their lives?

It is worth the investment, no matter what the results are!