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Journal Scan: Why mixed-breed dogs need their own generic breed name


Does your practice have a patient list full of all-American dogs?

What they did

The authors discuss findings of dog breed identification studies and offer an alternative option to breed identification in veterinary practice. The authors state that breed identification in veterinary practice may be unclear for mixed-breed dogs, especially when parentage isn't known and guesses are offered based on a dog's appearance.

What they found

The utility of dog breed identification in veterinary practice may be in question given the large percentage of mixed-breed dogs in the United States (about 44%) as well as studies that demonstrate that the physical appearance of mixed-breed dogs is not a good indicator of breed and that certain breed-associated behaviors have not survived current breeding regimens. Breed-based policies adopted by insurance companies and legislative bodies have also made this a potential area of concern for veterinarians.

The authors discuss adoption of non-breed-based terms to describe all dogs of unknown lineage as opposed to identification based on the predominant breed assessed at visual inspection. An example would be the term all-American dog used by the American Kennel Club to describe mixed-breed dogs. The authors note that this terminology should be used unless a dog is purebred, the predominant breed of a dog’s parents is known, or there is DNA confirmation of breed.

The authors also note that DNA analysis of dog breeds continues to evolve but, rather than offering a guess, you should offer this analysis if owners want to know the predominant breed of their dogs. Picture identification should also be considered as part of a patient's medical record.

Take-home message

Correct identification of dog breed based on visual inspection in any dog of unknown parentage can lead to misidentification and possible negative consequences. The authors recommend a shift toward a non-breed-based system given the ramifications misidentification could have both from a legal as well as a quality-of-life perspective.

Simpson RJ, Simpson KJ,VanKavage L. Rethinking dog breed identification in veterinary practice. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2012;241(9):1163-1166.

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