How to Find the Breed of Your Dog

by Whitney Lowell
Knowing your dog's breed can help with understanding training concerns and potential health problems.

Knowing your dog's breed can help with understanding training concerns and potential health problems.

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If you've rescued a dog, you may not know what breed he is, but there's no doubt you're curious. There's actually no 100 percent guaranteed method of determining what breed of dog you have, even with a DNA test. Without such a genetic test, your can deduce your options by determining that your 10-pound dog probably isn't part Great Dane or mastiff.

Facial Structure

Make note of his facial structure. How long and wide is his muzzle? What shape and color are his eyes? What are his jaw structure and teeth alignment? What shape are his ears? Do they stand or flop? The facial structure can help determine what breed of of dog you have; for example, spitzes have pointed, foxlike faces, and bull terriers have elongated, rounded snouts.

Coat Color and Type

Take note of your dog's fur. What color is he? Does have have any special markings -- brindle, harlequin, spotted, etc? What type of fur does he have -- curly, straight, thick, thin, short or long? Different dog breeds have different standards on their coat coloring and type. You generally won't find a poodle without her curls, or a husky without his double-coat of fur.

Size and Body Shape

The size and shape of your dog are markers to help identify his breed. Consider the size, weight and overall body shape of your dog. Measure your dog at the shoulders to get his height, and weigh him to get his weight. Does he have a thick body, or is he naturally lean? Check out his tail, as well; is it straight, curled, long, short, skinny or thick? This will help you narrow down the possibilities, as different breeds have different anatomical standards -- for example, some cattle dogs naturally have stumpy tails.

Get a DNA Test

If you want a real good idea of what type of breed your dog is, you can pay for a DNA test. These tests are not 100 percent accurate, as they cannot pinpoint the exact breed(s) your dog is; they compare lineages by using DNA from purebred dogs that are on file. Different labs and panels will have different DNA samples on file; sometimes more than 100 DNA samples are available to compare with your dog's DNA. Each lab may have different types of kits, but most require that you swab the inside of your dog's mouth. You'll mail the swab back to the lab and, within a few weeks, you'll have the results.

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About the Author

Whitney Lowell has been writing online since 2007. She writes for a variety of online publications and researches a wide range of topics and niches. Lowell has experience with animal rescues, dog training, pet health, raising and breeding reptiles, as well as home businesses, inventory, accounting, and finance.

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