What’s in a name? Plenty say scientists who conducted a study involving genetic testing on shelter dogs. It turns out that many times the breed labels given shelter dogs are wrong. There are plenty of implications for this mislabeling, including insurance, renting ability, and even the ability for dogs to get adopted.
More than a label: shelter dog genotyping reveals inaccuracy of breed assignments
“The level of genetic diversity in the shelter dogs exceeded our expectations: we found 125 distinct breeds. We also found that just 5% of the shelter dogs were purebred, even though it is commonly assumed that up to a quarter of dogs in shelters are purebred.”-Lisa Gunter, Maddie’s Research Fellow, Arizona State University, Department of Psychology
Though breed labels are common in animal shelters, they can have unintended consequences. In a previous study… researchers found that dogs labeled as pit bulls waited over three times as long to be adopted. In the current study, researchers found that dogs in a San Diego shelter with a pit bull-type ancestry waited more than three times as long as other dog breeds.
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Journal Reference: Lisa M. Gunter, Rebecca T. Barber, Clive D. L. Wynne. A canine identity crisis: Genetic breed heritage testing of shelter dogs. PLOS ONE, 2018; 13 (8): e0202633 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202633