A couple of weeks ago, the University of Florida, along with Maddie's Fund, announced the results of a study that they have been working on all summer.
More that 5,000 dog experts -- including breeders, trainers, groomers, veterinarians, shelter staff, and rescuers completed a survey in which they were asked to identify the primary breed of dog of 20 of 119 dogs in the database.
The results were then matched with DNA tests. Here are the 100 dogs, with their DNA results, and the top responses from the experts.
I realize that there is a lot of skepticism about the accuracy of DNA testing. I will note that my experience has been pretty good with the Mars Wisdom Panel test -- at least within the past couple of years. I do think it has issues at times with uncommon breeds that are less likely to have deep DNA pools for which to pull genetic markers. But otherwise I think the results are fairly reliable.
I also think it's then interesting to see the variety of different breeds that were assigned (based solely on picture identification) to different types of dogs by the panel of experts -- with many of the responses varying pretty widely.
Specifically, I think a lot of "lab mixes" end up having no Lab in them at all and a lot of "American Staffordshire Terrier mixes" have 25% or less AST DNA in them. The testing group also did pretty well on identifying purebred dogs, or ones that were 75% of more of a certain breed, but often had some pretty far-off results for ones that were 50% or less of a certain breed. This means that even people with a fairly good understanding of dog breed charactersistics did fairly poorly at identifying mixed breed dogs of which were just 1 generation away from being purebred. They were awful at identifying ones that were 2 generations or more away from being purebred.
The study is yet another in the growing list of data that suggests that looks-based breed identification for mixed breed dogs is very unreliable -- even if "experts" are doing the identification. This means that any dog bite data based on visual identification, and newspaper reports indicating breed, is going to be VERY unreliable with the exception of truly purebred dogs.
Thus, pretty much every dog bite study in existence is inaccurate, and pretty much any law targeting dogs based on how they look is completely unenforceable. And once DNA gets diluted into mixed breed dogs, a dog can easily look very different than what you'd expect based on its genetic makeup.