How Do You Know Your Dog's Breed?

It doesn't really matter who his parents are; he still rules.
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Your dog is your buddy, happy to be your companion when you go for a jog or settle in for a movie at home. Though it doesn't matter what breed he is, it's natural to be curious about what's in there. Admiring his good looks and watching his behavior can yield clues.

Visual Clues

A visual inspection is a starting point for identifying breed. You might have a dog who's fairly easy to identify, such as a basset hound. But usually it's tougher. When 5,000 people who worked with dogs were asked to identify the breeds in more than 100 mixed-breed dogs for a University of Florida study, the vast majority were wrong. Don't give up on visual identification, but keep an open mind. Use a comprehensive dog breed book or an online source and look for similarities in your pup's coat, build, facial structure and features, including eyes, ears, nose and tail.

Behavior Clues

Your dog's behavior might provide insight. If he enjoys herding the kids or cats, he could be exercising his instinct to herd livestock. Herding breeds include border and rough collies, German and Australian shepherds, English and Shetland sheepdogs, cattle dogs and corgies; they're often protective and loyal. If he likes to fetch -- in or out of water -- and is outgoing and energetic, there might be some retriever in him. Flat-coated, golden, curly-coated and Chesapeake Bay retrievers are energetic retrievers. If your guy walks nose to the ground, look at scent hounds, including beagles, basset hounds and coon hounds.