Friday, January 6, 2012

Missy's DNA

People constantly approach us on walks and ask what Missy is. Every time I settle on a breed I think she looks like, someone sways me. When I'm convinced she's a spaniel mix, a passerby says, "Wow, she must be a border collie mix." (I assure them she has nothing close to the energy level of a border collie.) Then, when I'm sure she's got some spitz in her, I see a similar dog on Petfinder labeled as a flat-coated retriever. And so on...

The ambiguity of her breed is one of my favorite things about her. I hate the idea that a dog is supposed to look like something. After all, who really cares what's in our dog's DNA? At the vet's office, I identified her as "mixed breed" on their paperwork. When the receptionist questioned me, I asked her to take her best guess. The receptionist looked down at Missy, shrugged, and said, "Mixed breed it is."

But a homeowner's insurance company pushed me over the edge. When we were applying to a new company, the representative asked if we owned a dog and if so, what breed. He wouldn't accept "mixed breed" for an answer. He needed to write something down in the file. Forget about the fact that we had a flooded basement that caused tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage. These people were willing to cover us as along as we don't have a bully breed living in our house. (Click here for more about breed-specific practices by insurance companies.) "Is she a pit bull?" the representative asked. And we said, "She's small and black and fluffy. Just put spaniel mix."

After that conversation, I caved and bought a DNA test for Missy. People need labels for everything, it seems. We can make our best guesses about what she is based on what she looks like, but what's in her DNA could be very different. Some friends also pointed out that it's good to know what breeds could be in the mix for medical purposes. And plus, it will just be fun to know. So we shelled out $50, ordered a test, and swabbed her cheeks. We dropped the samples in the mail this evening and should receive a copy of the results in 2-3 weeks. Stay tuned.

Do I think the results will be the end-all, be-all answer to what makes our dog supremely awesome? No. Will I be surprised or angry if it comes back as mostly "mixed breed?" Not at all.

In the end, she's our Missy, a purebred Missy.


  1. I have to know because our dogs are twins. I mean exact replicas. I will send you pictures if you want to see. Please keep me posted.

    1. My dog might be the triplet! Looks exactly like her - we think she might be a spaniel-chow mix.

  2. I'm dying to know now, please send me your email address and I will forward pictures of my sweet Agnes.