Your Shelter Has No Idea What Breed That Dog Is

Most dog-lovers looking to adopt a rescue care more about size and temperament than breed. After all, you don't really go to a shelter expressly looking for purebred animals. Still, getting a pet is a huge choice and a years-long commitment. You want to do it right the first time.

That's one reason why new research from Arizona State University is so surprising. When scientists compared how shelters labeled more than 900 dogs with DNA tests looking at the dogs' breed makeup, they found huge gaps. Generally rescues could identify a dog's primary or secondary breed about two-thirds of the time, but if the dog was a mix of three or more breeds, forget it — accuracy in guessing went down to 1 in 10. And while previous estimates had guessed that about one-quarter of shelter dogs are purebred, DNA testing found that number to actually be just 5 percent.

Adopters want breed information for a few reasons, but most of them come down to predictability. However, the ASU researchers emphasize that shelter dogs tend to be so mixed in so many different ways that the only surefire method to choose one is individually. This especially holds true for breeds that get stereotyped as difficult, such as dogs which fall under the pitbull label and thus tend to wait three times longer in shelters for adoption.

The ASU team found 125 distinct breeds within their genetic survey. That creates a huge number of excellent possible puppers. It also means the one charming, marvelous doggo you should adopt is 100 percent out there. When you meet face to face, you'll know everything you need.