What Breed of Dog is Your Mutt?

Answer a few (well, more than a few!) questions and maybe you'll find out.

I am the kind of person who loves dogs, loves mutts, and goes to the shelter or to rescue groups to get a dog. The more Heinz 57, the better. And then the speculation begins. It seems like "shepherd mix" describes every dog I've ever been interested in. But what are/were they really?

One route for the mutt-curious is to get a DNA test done. I'm too cheap, so I've never done it. But I encourage you to do the research and pay for the test if you really want a scientific determination. What I'm providing below is based on first, my research in books, and second, your subjective observation of your dog. So the scientific validity of this process can only go so far. On the other hand, this is free and minimally invasive.

Disclaimers!

  1. My starting point was the top 50 on the list of the United States' most popular dog breeds on the American Kennel Club's website. I am morally opposed to dog breeding, but I didn't know where else to look. (And by the way, they have a list of purebred dog rescue groups and their contact information, on their website. Yay, AKC!) The AKC's list reflects the number of purebred dogs in the US with AKC registrations. I doubt that purebred registrations exactly correlates with the most common breeds that are reproducing out there on the streets, and then ending up in shelters or at rescue groups. So I included a few extras in my list, breeds that may not be registered with the AKC quite as often as others. All of this was a totally subjective call on my part.
  2. As you observe your dog, be aware that the descriptions below are intended to reflect how your dog should be, if not how your dog actually is. (Wow, that sounds philosophical.) In other words, if your dog has a docked tail or cropped ears, that's not what I want to know about. I want a description of the ears or tail as they should have been if left alone. If your dog is obese, you need to estimate his or her healthy adult weight. For behavior, answer for the dog's normal behavior as an adult. In summary, garbage in, garbage out.
  3. Dog breeds have hallmarks, traits or physical characteristics that exemplify the breed. The hallmarks are what I'm trying to list here. There's two problems with hallmarks, though. The first is that different breeds of dogs may have the same hallmarks. Secondly, even purebred dogs may not exhibit the hallmarks of their breed. I am not an expert on any dog breed, so I got my dog breed information from two books: the Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds, 2nd Edition, by D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D., and the Pocket Professional Guide Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds by Dominique DeVito.
  4. And finally, I am not a Google algorithmitician. This questionnaire gives even-stephen point totals for characteristics. Probably, I should weight characteristics, to give give more common breeds' characteristics more points. And maybe I will someday.
  5. If you enjoy this, feel free to donate to support my questionnaire-writing habit.

Without further ado, answer the following questions about your mutt:

Pick the best description of your mutt's ears.
Large and held pricked or erect (think the opposite of floppy), and pointed at the tips. And they are not covered in long hair.
Held pricked or erect (think the opposite of floppy), pointed at the tips, and covered in long hair.
Small or medium-sized, held pricked or erect (think the opposite of floppy), and not covered in long hair.
Pricked or erect, but rounded at the tips, called “bat” ears.
Semi-erect. They are held straight up but they roll over into a semi-flop at tips.
Erect but the top part hangs down in a V shape.
Floppy (also called “pendent”), sized appropriately/proportionally or small in comparison with their head, not covered with so much long hair that you can’t see where the ear ends and the hair begins.
Floppy and very large and/or long compared to the dog’s head.
Floppy and covered with very long hair, so that it is hard to see where the ears end and the hair begins.
Small and semi-floppy. They hang to the side, or back when the dog is relaxed (also called “rose” ears).
Small triangular ears, lying flat on their head, pointing forward.
Pick the best description of your mutt's fur color.
Their fur is an unsymmetrical, mottled, crazy mix of some or all of the following colors: gray, black, white, brown, red, white. It is sometimes called merle, which means dark patches overlaid on a lighter background of the same pigment type. And it is also called dapple, if that helps you visualize it.
Their fur is "ticked," which means it has irregular spots of color on white fur.
Their fur is mostly black, with symmetrical white patches on their chest, neck and face, and smaller brown patches (called "flashings") on their face and chest.
Their fur is composed of large areas (big patches) of different colored fur in black, brown and white.
Their fur is mottled (mixed up, without clear defined edges) in brown and white.
All of their fur is white (okay, they're a mutt so maybe there's a spot or two of another color, but 95% or more is white).
Their fur is 95% or more golden or yellow. From light light yellow all the way to deep golden almost-brown.
Their fur is 95% or more red or brownish-red.
Their fur is composed of big red and white asymmetrical patches.
Their fur is composed of big orange and white asymmetrical patches.
Their fur is 95% or more fawn colored (pale brown, tinted with yellow).
Their fur is 95% or more black.
Their fur is mostly black with some tan/rust/mahogany markings on their feet/legs/neck/chest.
Their fur is black with large white patches between eyes and chest, and possibly around their neck.
Their fur is 95% or more medium to dark brown.
Their fur is brindle (irregular vertical bands of dark hair overlaid on lighter hair, resembling stripes), all over or in patches.
Their fur is white with irregular black patches.
Their fur is tan and/or brown on legs, black on body/torso, and lighter brown on their bellies, possibly with a black muzzle.
Their fur is silvery blue and tan.
Their fur is 95% or more gray or bluish-gray.
Their fur is black and silver or black and silvery white.
How long is your mutt's fur?
Loooooong fur (give me down-to-there hair, floor length or longer, here doggie, there doggie, everywhere doggie, doggie . . . HAIR!!!!)
Hair that is neither very short, nor very long.
Short fur.
More about your mutt's fur. Check any of the following, if they describe your dog.
The fur on their feet is unusually long, pretty much dragging on the ground.
Their fur is long, silky, and perfectly straight.
The fur is stiff and bristly, and more than 1/2" long.
Your mutt has a line of fur growing forward on the top of their back, creating the appearance of a ridge along their spine.
Their fur is very, very curly.
If left to grow, their fur becomes a big fluffy ball.
Their fur is long on the front of their neck or around their neck, with a ruff or mane-like appearance.
Your dog is the champion shedder of the world.
Their fur is longer on their legs, muzzle and eyebrows.
Your dog's fur is shorter in most places, then grows into a longer feathery fringe on their legs and/or stomach.
What does their head and/or face look like? Check any of the following, if they describe your dog.
Their head is large and almost rectangular, when viewed from the side.
Their head and face is wrinkly, all the time.
Their forehead is usually smooth, but it wrinkles when they're alert.
Their jaw is undershot. In other words, when their mouth is closed, their lower teeth are forward of their upper teeth).
They have "pendent flews." In other words, your dog's lips hang down over their lower jaw and lower lips (in some cases, a loooong way).
They have a short broad upward turned muzzle (the front part of their face).
Blue eye(s) . . . baby's got blue eye(s).
They have light amber (yellowish brown) eyes.
They have gray eyes.
Their muzzle (the front part of their face) is slightly arched.
They have a hippopotamus-shaped muzzle. In other words, the front part of their face looks like the front part of a hippo's face, only a lot smaller.
They have a cone-shaped face, tapering down from the head to the very end of their muzzle in a long pointy way.
When you're looking deep into their eyes, their nose appears to be on a line between those eyes.
Their nose is brown. Not their muzzle, which is the front part of their face. Their nose, which is the furless, nostril-containing area at the end of their muzzle.
Their nose is pink.
Their nose is gray.
Their skull (the top of their head) is shaped like a dome (high and round-ish).
They have a black mask of fur on their face or muzzle (contrasting with lighter fur on the rest of their face and body).
Open up and say ahhhhh! Their tongue is blue, black or lavender; or it has blue or black spots.
Their tongue, gums, and lips are completely black or blue-black.
They have "no stop." In other words, there is no abrupt horizontal (or horizontal-ish) part in the transition from the main back/skull part of their head to the front part (their muzzle). Or there's only a very slight stop.
They have a well-defined stop. The transition between their muzzle and skull is nearly vertical, like a little cliff.
They have a prominent bone, which looks like a bump, on the center back of head. It's called an occiput.
What does their skin look like? Check any of the following, if they describe your dog.
The skin on their body lies in folds, like big wrinkles.
Your dog has a dewlap (sagging skin on the front of their neck).
The skin on their legs and feet pools into folds, like big wrinkles.
What do their legs and feet look like? Check any of the following, if they describe your dog.
Their feet are webbed.
Your mutt's legs are disproportionately short for their body. Long body, short legs.
Your mutt's back legs are a lot longer than their front legs.
Your mutt's back legs are almost straight (most dogs' back legs are like a shallow sideways V). Your dog's back legs are a very shallow sideways V, almost straight.
What does their body look like? Check any of the following, if they describe your dog.
They have a well-defined tuck-up. In other words, under their torso, they chest slopes up to a small "waist."
Your mutt has a prominent breastbone. A bump under their skin right at the front of their chest.
Your dog's body and legs are long and lean. He or she could be a supermodel!
Your dog is short and stocky.
Your dog has a broad back. He or she makes a great coffee table.
What does their tail look like? Check any of the following, if they describe your dog.
Your dog holds their tail straight up and curling forward over their back.
Your mutt's tail is bushy, like a bottle brush.
Your mutt's tail is slightly curved or straight (but not curled or curly!) and carried high (somewhere in the 90 degrees between just above horizontal, all the way to almost vertical).
Your mutt's tail is straight and carried horizontal or very close to horizontal.
Your dog has a short tail and carries it low.
Your dog has a very short stumpy tail or has no tail. I don't mean a docked tail. Your dog was born without a tail, or much of a tail.
Statements about your mutt's personality and behavior. Check any of the following, if they describe your dog.
Your dog loves water and/or swimming.
Your mutt loves to roam around, ranging back and forth, sniffing, looking for prey.
Your mutt likes to go get things and bring them back, from land and/or water.
While looking at prey, your mutt freezes and "points" with a front leg.
Your dog loves to dig for varmints and/or your dog is a ratter.
Your dog is very prey driven.
Your dog loves to run.
Your mutt has herding tendencies.
Your mutt nips at heels, during play or otherwise.
Your mutt howls.
Your dog is an intense starer.
Your dog is very unhappy if it has to be alone.
Your dog has a very feisty personality. In other words, your dog is prepared to stand and fight, even when the other dog is a lot bigger.
Your mutt has a very stubborn personality.
Your dog is extremely barky.
Your dog has a very loud, baying bark.
Your dog is very friendly to people, including strangers.
Your dog has a very boisterous and lively personality.
Your dog is eager to please the people in its life.
Your mutt was difficult, or impossible, to housetrain.
Your mutt does not like hot and/or humid weather.
Your mutt does not like cold weather.
Your dog loves cold weather.
Your mutt wheezes and/or snores a lot.
Your dog is very gentle.
Your dog is high energy.
Your dog is low energy.
Your dog drools a lot.
How much does your dog weigh? Remember to estimate downwards if your dog is overweight.
10 lbs. or less.
11 - 20 lbs.
21 - 30 lbs.
31 - 40 lbs.
41 - 50 lbs.
51 - 60 lbs.
61 - 70 lbs.
71 - 80 lbs.
81 - 90 lbs.
91 - 100 lbs.
100 lbs. or more.
Go find your yardstick. What is your dog's height at the top of their shoulders/back?
9 inches or less.
10 - 19 inches.
20 - 29 inches.
30 inches or more.




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