Dog Breed Identification Testing: Improved But Not Perfected
Since actual pedigree information is not usually available, determining the likely breed of dogs that may fall under breed-based restrictions requires a subjective assessment of the dog's appearance. Recently, DNA analysis has been used to investigate the breed heritage of individual dogs targeted in breed restriction cases. However, the largest testing service does not offer a DNA test for identification of American pit bull terriers. Additionally, it does not provide a test for ‘pit bulls’, since the term variously refers to a loose collection of breeds and their mixes or to dogs with similar morphology rather than a group of dogs with a controlled gene pool.
Pit Bull is absolutely a breed so long as any breed organization chooses to recognize it and it is perpetuated separately from other breed identifications. IMO, it should not be a breed name as it’s a terrible name, but no one has yet come up with anything better and people are still fighting these dogs in pits in every seedy neighborhood in America. The importance of understanding that Pit Bulls ARE a breed is that it casts to light the misunderstanding that it is appropriate to call many different breeds of dogs ‘pit bulls’ for no other reason than that they all have short coats, blocky heads and bulldog heritage. If the American Pit Bull Terrier is not a breed, why on earth does it have literature dedicated to it, breeders breeding it, and dogs who cannot go by any other name identified as it? You can’t make a breed disappear just by saying it does not exist. APBTs are a distinct and recognized breed, and the reason that they are not recognized among many organizations is the stigma attached to the name, but the Staffordshire Bull Terrier which looks completely different from an APBT, is what the AKC and most DNA tests will recognize instead, which is ridiculous. My dogs are APBTs but identified on DNA tests are Staffordshire Bull Terriers because the DNA is indistinguishable, even if the morphological differences are dramatic. No educated person would ever mistake an English Staffordshire Bull Terrier for an American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or an American Staffordshire Bull Terrier for an American Pit Bull Terrier. The primary difference that remains empirically between modern Staffordshire Bull Terriers and modern American Pit Bull Terriers is that APBTs are still popularly used in fighting pits and therefor have an addition layer of behavioral culling–human aggressive dogs continue to be culled, and only compliant dogs are bred. Staffordshire Bull Terriers, because they are recognized by large breed organizations, are bred more often as show dogs, etc and do not receive this street-level selection. If breeding for selected traits defines the way a breed develops (spoiler alert: it does) then the dogs being formed in the alleys and basements of America’s ghettos are a separate breed from the show dogs bearing a fancy British name that no longer applies to them.
What is the difference between a blood-based breed identification test and over-the-counter swab DNA tests for dogs?
As opposed to over-the-counter DNA tests for dogs, ROYAL CANIN® Genetic Health Analysis™ is sold exclusively through veterinary clinics. While both types of tests give information about breed mix and optimal weight predictions, the blood test gives additional information about health conditions that the dog may be pre-disposed to as well as nutritional guidelines based on the dog’s breed mix.There are about 50 - 60 cat breeds throughout the world but less than 30 are major breeds from which other less common and newer breeds are derived. Cat Ancestry examines representatives of all the major cat breeds known and several breeds that are less common or are derived breeds (part of a breed family). Because there are fewer breeds of cats than dogs, and since many cat breeds can be defined by DNA markers controlling appearance, Cat Ancestry uses less DNA markers than the current dog ancestry and breed identification tests.