What kind of dog is that?

When you’re searching for a new canine bestie, it’s natural to consider breed. Perhaps you’re drawn to the friendly reputation of Labradors, the toughness associated with Pit Bulls, or the notoriously spirited nature of Chihuahuas. But, here’s the truth: while breed characteristics can give you a general starting point, they don’t paint the full picture. In fact, experts agree: relying solely on a dog’s looks might not lead you to your perfect match. The real match-making-magic lies in a dog’s individual personality. Let’s explore why.

The Challenges of Visual Breed Identification

Identifying a dog’s breed based on their physical features is not as straightforward as it seems. Features like coat color, ear shape, and tail length can vary significantly within a single breed. Hence, a dog that appears to be a particular breed may not necessarily exhibit the stereotypical characteristics or behaviors of that breed.


Even among professionals, the accuracy of visual breed identification is shockingly low. A study involving shelter dogs revealed that professionals agreed on the predominant breed in a dog’s appearance only 27% of the time. This agreement rate dips to less than 10% for mixed breed dogs.


The Science of Canine Individuality

The canine genome, which refers to the complete set of genes in a


dog, is remarkably diverse and intricate. Even dogs of the same breed can possess significant genetic differences that lead to unique behaviors and temperaments. In other words, while similar in appearance, they are not clones. This means that while dogs of the same breed may share common physical traits, their individual genetic makeup can lead to distinct behavioral patterns.


Aside from genetics,  a dog’s behavior is also heavily influenced by their past experiences and environment. For instance, a dog brought up in a serene, quiet home might be more relaxed than one from a bustling environment.


It’s science!

Did you know?
When we look at a dog’s appearance, we are seeing roughly 50 of their nearly 20,000 genes. That is about 0.25% of their genome.


The Importance of Personality

As we’ve seen, a dog’s behavior isn’t solely determined by their breed – it’s a colorful mix of their genetics, environment, and experiences. When you’re ready to adopt a dog, zoom in on their unique personality! Whether they’re bursting with energy or prefer snuggling on the couch, each dog has its own charm. Some might be total attention lovers while others enjoy their independence. By celebrating each dog as an individual, you’re sure to find your perfect, furry match that complements your lifestyle and personality. Happy adopting!


So, what kind of dog is that? One of a kind. 




Ostrander EA, Wayne RK. The canine genome. 





About the Author:
Wyatt Baggett is the Marketing Associate at Young-Williams Animal Center. With over five years of experience working with shelter pets and a passion for animal welfare, he enjoys creating informative content for pet parents. When he’s not working, Wyatt enjoys hanging out with his three rescue dogs, thrifting, and hunting down the best eats around Knoxville.