Mars Veterinary, a company that distributes the Wisdom Panel Insights dog DNA test, recently announced the launch of the first-ever National Mutt Census to run in conjunction with the current U.S. Census.
“As millions of Americans take part in our nation’s census this year, a common member in millions of households isn’t included — man’s best friend. That’s why in 2010, the estimated 38 million mixed breed dogs in the U.S. will also have the chance to stand up and be counted with the nation’s first ever ‘National Mutt Census,” wrote Mars Veterinary on its website.
Many mutt-loving pet parents are excited about this new “Mutt Census,” and as of April 28, 15,826 had already registered their mixed-breed dogs. Similar to the U.S. Census, the Mutt Census gathers information about a mutt pertaining to its age, sex, and location. But beyond the basics, the census also asks about size, weight, breeds, the food he/she eats, whether the dog is spayed or neutered, and whether or not the dog was adopted from a shelter.
What initially seems like a cute play on words and play on the current “human” census may actually reveal some very important facts about the mixed-breed dogs in this country, and what they tell us about our “dog history.” Based on the data collected so far, Mars Veterinary has found that though many popular American Kennel Club (AKC) breeds are found in mixed-breed dogs, there are many important differences to take into account.
As noted in the chart above (provided by Mars Veterinary), there are similarities between the breeds in the AKC’s top 10 and the top 10 breeds in the mutts in the Mars Veterinary census. For example, the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Boxer, and German Shepherd are all in the top 10 on both lists.
The census also reveals that:
The Chow Chow is the second most prevalent breed detected among the nation’s mixed-breed dogs — yet it is the 63rd most popular pure AKC breed.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is the sixth most prevalent breed detected among mixed-breed dogs — yet it is the 70th most popular pure AKC breed.
The Chinese Shar-Pei is the 14th most prevalent breed detected among mixed-breed dogs — yet it is the 47th most popular of pure AKC breeds.
Neale Fretwell, DVM, research and development director at Mars Veterinary, attributes these findings to the amount of dogs homed from shelters.
“Many of the dogs tested from Mars Veterinary’s expansive database were homed from shelters or rescue agencies,” he wrote. “The tendency for certain types of mixes to be more commonly found in shelters (such as Rottweiler, Boxer and Chow Chow), probably accounts for the discrepancy between the list of most popular AKC breeds and the top 20 most popular breeds in mixed-breed dogs.”
What breed will you most likely not find in your mixed breed according to the census?
More interesting facts:
The Alaskan Malamute is the most popular breed detected among mixed-breed dogs in Alaska.
The German Shepherd is the most popular breed detected among mixed-breed dogs in Washington, D.C.
Interestingly enough, the Chow Chow is the most popular breed in mixed-breed dogs in arid-climate prone Arizona.
According to the Mutt Census, the mixed-breed dogs of today might actually be a paw print relic of popular dog breeds of past.
“Since peaking in sixth place on the AKC’s most popular breed rankings in the 1980s, Chow Chows have experienced a gradual decline in the U.S.,” wrote Angela Hughes, DVM, Mars Veterinary genetics expert. “We believe that the mixed-breed population is a reservoir that can reflect previous generations of purebred dog populations rather than current populations. These breeds are often found at the grandparent or great grandparent level in tested mixed-breed dogs, and therefore, represent genetic ancestry from dogs that probably lived 10-20 years ago.”
Though the company sells the dog DNA test kit (and encourages pet parents to purchase it in its Mutt Census marketing), it’s not a requirement for registering your dog in the mutt census. If you are already aware of your dog’s breeds then you can simply punch them in.
What will your dog’s paw print tell us about future dog generations?
Do you have a mutt? What’s your mutt’s name and breeds?