Judging a Dog by its Cover

One of the most commonly asked questions we get about any dog is “what breed is Fluffy?” Or, “what is Spot mixed with?” When you inquire about a dog’s breed based on how they look, you are really asking these two questions:

– What do we think we know about a dog based on their breed or breed mix?
– What can we predict about dog behavior based on breed or physical appearance alone?

Understanding dogs means that we must begin judging and evaluating dogs based on actual behavior, rather than an arbitrary, and often, inaccurate breed label. DNA testing has shown that identification of breed based on looks alone to be very unreliable. What we label as a Lab mix will likely be revealed through DNA testing to be a mixture of many things, none of which Labrador Retriever.

We believe it to be unhelpful and inaccurate to claim that we know for sure the mix or breed of any particular dog based on looks alone, especially when good or bad assumptions are often made about how a particular dog may behave based on breed, which may lead to disappointment or unrealistic expectations.

Research reveals that dogs are complex creatures whose behavior is influenced by many factors. Looks alone do not determine behavior. This means that we must judge and evaluate every dog for their actual behavior, rather than on assumptions, generalizations, and stereotypes based on breed or looks. We hope this individual approach will lead to better matches between dogs and families, higher adoption rates, and a better understanding of dogs in general.