Have you ever wondered where your dog comes from or what their specific ancestry is? Tracking dog genealogy back through generations has several benefits for your dog, and it can also give you a good idea of any potential health problems your dog may develop.
If your dog is a purebred, you’ll likely have more success tracking your dog’s heritage, but if your dog is a mixed breed, you’ll get less concrete results. Either way, it can help you keep your dog happy and healthy throughout their entire life.
Reasons Why It’s a Good Idea to Track your Dog’s Genealogy
Where there are dozens of reasons why it could be a good idea to trace your dog’s genealogy back, four main reasons come to mind.
1. Behavior Study
A lot of your dog’s personality traits or quirks can link back to their ancestry, and genealogy testing will help you trace these traits and study your dog’s behavior. If your dog has behavior problems like digging, barking, or if they’re more aggressive, this in-depth knowledge can help you put together an effective training program to help them.
2. Health Risks and Threats
When you understand your dog’s history, you’ll also get a good understanding of health patterns or problems your dog could face now and when they age. When you know this, it gives you a good head start on preventing these health risks or getting a plan in place to help your dog when they surface.
3. Inbreeding Risk Reduction
If your dog is a purebred, it’s extremely important that you reduce the risk of inbreeding when you breed your dog. By knowing your dog’s ancestry, you’ll get a good grasp on whether or not the dog you want to breed your dog with is related or not and if inbreeding will occur. Inbreeding can cause health problems, so you want to avoid it.
4. Weight and Size Predictions
Because tracing your dog’s genealogy will give you a good idea of the size and weight of their ancestors, you are able to use this information to predict your puppy’s weight and size when they’re full grown. This is helpful for making sure they’re not overweight, and that you’re feeding them the correct amount.
Tracing Purebred Dog Ancestry
If your dog came from a reputable breeder or if they have AKC registration papers, tracking their genealogy is relatively easy because breeders and the AKC keep meticulous notes and histories of their puppies to prove that they’re purebred. You can ask for a copy of their paperwork when you purchase the puppy.
If your puppy came from a pet store instead of a breeder, ask the pet store where they got the puppies and see if they’ll give you the litter or puppy’s registration paperwork. This will usually list the state the puppy came from and the breeder, and you can continue digging from here.
Once you get the paperwork, scan it until you find the litter registration number and your puppy’s dam and sire’s names. When you find this information, the next step is to contact the American Kennel Club and give them the litter registration number and request your dog’s paperwork.
The AKC will usually only go back one or two generations unless you specifically ask for a more comprehensive search, so make sure that you ask a staff member to dig back farther. Once they have all of the information they can find, they can mail you a copy of everything.
The paperwork you receive can tell you if any of your dog’s ancestors were used as AKC show dogs, and you can take this information and search for your dog’s bloodlines. This will tell you if your dog has any champion bloodlines or not, and if you plan to breed your dog, this could increase your asking prices.
Tracing Mixed Breed Dog Ancestry
Decoding your mixed breed dog’s genealogy is going to be more difficult, and it’ll require more work on your end, but you can get a good idea of what breeds make up your dog’s ancestry. Start by breaking down your dog’s body into parts and take note of them. Look at:
- Coat – Straight, Curly, Long, Short, Dense, Single, or Double
- Ears – Short, Erect, Button, Long, or Floppy
- Paws – Webbing or No Webbing
- Snout – Long and Narrow, Snub-Nosed, or Short and Stubby
- Tail – Long, Curly, Short, or Nonexistent
Once you have a list of all of these traits, you can do a Google search, or you can compare them to different purebred dogs in David Alderton’s book, “The Mutt Book: Decoding Your Dog’s Heritage.” If you can’t find the information you want from these sources, you can have a DNA test done.
There are dozens of DNA kits available (visit https://www.puppywire.com/dna-tests/ for a list of the best companies) for you to test your dog, and the less expensive ones require you to swab your dog’s cheek, put the swab in the provided envelope, and mail it to the company. They’ll analyze the sample and send you your dog’s DNA results within three or four weeks.
A few DNA tests do require a blood sample as well, so you’d have to take your dog to the vet for them to draw the sample. These kits usually start at around $40 and go up to over $100, so it’s easy to find one that fits your budget.
Tracing and testing dog genealogy can be a daunting task, but there are several organizations and kits that can help make the process easy and quick. Whether you have a mixed breed or a purebred dog, getting concrete answers can be an important part of ensuring that they’re healthy and happy throughout their lives.