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« Weekly Roundup - Week Ending 9/13/09 | Main | Consumer confidence in the media is diminishing »

September 14, 2009



The DNA testing available right now, as far as I know, is very poor. Dawn Capp of CHAKO had her papered APBT DNA tested and he came back primarily Border Collie (well, he *is* black and white).

I don't understand the argument that pit bulls in the shelter aren't really pit bulls. According to whom? That is a totally bizarre assertion imo. Does that mean the Labs in the shelters aren't really Labs and the Huskies not really Huskies?


Many people couldn't recognize an APBT as opposed to a Staffie, or a Cane Corso, or a mastiff, or other similar-looking breeds, but anyone with a passing interest in dog breeds can recognize a pit bull as one.

It's nonsense to say that BSL doesn't work because we "can't recognize pit bulls". BSL doesn't work because people behave poorly. They train dogs, regardless of breed, to be aggressive. They neglect or abuse their dogs. They allow perfectly normal dogs to run loose. It's always been about people, not a breed of dogs.

Brent Toellner

For starters, in her video, Dawn uses one of the mouth swab tests. I can't remember exactly which test she used, but the Canine Heritage test is the best of this group. Even with that, the test only has the DNA in their database to match 115 breeds of dogs (it was less at the time -- about 60 or so) -- and neither the AST nor APBT are in the database. So it wouldn't be confusing why the DNA would come out more than a bit odd if it's being "matched" without a full breed list and your breed isn't part of the list.

The Mars Wisdom Panel test -- which most people think is better because it has a much deeper database of DNA to compare with 170+ breeds -- is the one used in these cases. This test does contain AST DNA in the database for matching. While the APBT is not in the database, logic would say, based on breed history, that they should show up at least predominently AST in the comparitive match. I'm not 100% sure though...

The argument isn't that 'pit bulls' in the shelter aren't really 'pit bulls' as much as the reality that most of the dogs that are categorized as "pit bull mixes" have little to no genetic linkage to any of the 'pit bull' breeds. Like Labs, and German Shepherds, 'pit bull' has become such a large breed group that pretty much all mixed breeds that have a certain look get classified as one of these three breeds. If it has long black or yellow hair, it becomes a 'lab mix' -- even though there are dozens of mixed breed dogs it could be.

Meanwhile, for fun, type in "German Shepherd mix" into petfinder and most don't even remotely resemble what a true, pure-bred GSD looks like.

These breed categories have become quite the catch-alls. And as such a large number of "pit bulls" found in the shelter have no genetic resemblence to an APBT at all.

It isn't a totall bizarre assertion at all...

Brent Toellner


The National Canine Research Council has been doing a series of DNA tests and putting together different versions of the "Find a pit bull" game based on DNA evidence. You might be surprised by the findings.

Here's the "find a pit bull" game:

Here's the one for labs:

If you don't think most shelters would classify the majority of these dogs as the larger breed grouping I think you're kidding yourself.

And i know it's common to bash DNA tests for their inaccuracies, but I think it's funny that people think they can judge a dog's heritage by eyesight better than DNA seems like a bit of an odd assumption too.

While I agree that BSL doesn't work primarily because it's an ownership issue, not a breed issue, I don't think you can discount the number of people who are negatively impacted when the dog they think is a mixed breed dog ends up dead in a shelter because some animal control officer thought it was "close enough" to a pit bull. I've personally dozens of cases in the past couple of years just in the KC area....and it's a major, severe, problem.


Geeesh. At least I can hold me head up high as New Scotland doesn't do those silly breedy things. Just one part of er did, but they fought that one to it's end.



I agree that many of the dogs in shelters are mislabeled as pit bulls. Visual breed identification is very difficult, especially when many mixed breeds tend to take on characteristics of pit bulls.

I am a pit bull owner and an active member of Indy Pit Crew, and even I get fooled by the many mixes that come into the Humane Society of Indianapolis where I work.

I think the DNA tests just help us prove that breed identification is difficult if not impossible, and that it's a terrible (and stupid) way to try and determine if a dog has the potential to be dangerous.


OOps, rather, where I volunteer!

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