There are many reasons why it’s best to have a general understanding of where your dog comes from.
Whether you just want to understand your dog a bit more, you’d like to know about their genetic variants, or if you’re interested in breeding; there are many reasons as to why dog owners are on a mission to determine their dog’s breed.
In this article, we’ll dive into the age your dog should be when determining their breed, and the steps you can take to determine their breed.
At What Age Can You Determine A Dog’s Breed?
This question depends on which method you choose to determine your dog’s age.
If you are choosing to test your dog’s DNA in order to have an accurate answer on their breed, it’s best to do this at 4 weeks of age or older.
This age range is due to the safety of separating the puppy from their mom for any given time, but could technically be performed at any point since it just involves collecting saliva.
If you are choosing to guess their breed based on their physical appearance and demeanor, it’s best to do this at 1 year of age once your dog has matured.
Some physical traits take time to develop, so it can be challenging to guess a dog’s breed as a young puppy.
By waiting until they are at least 1 year of age, you can assume that they have grown into their frame and developed some of the key characteristics that can help you guess their breed.
Ways To Determine Your Dog’s Breed
There is no set way to come to a conclusion on a dog’s breed. While some options are more accurate than others, you can explore a number of avenues to try to find the answer to this question.
Some of the most common ways to determine a dog’s breed include:
1. DNA Testing
The most accurate way to determine your dog’s breed is through DNA testing. If you do a quick google search for canine DNA testing, you’re sure to find several options ranging in price and effectiveness.
There are options that require blood samples that are sent off by your veterinarian, and other options that rely on your dog’s saliva to determine their lineage.
The accuracy of these DNA tests will depend on the amount of sample that is obtained and the company that is used for testing.
DNA testing is the most accurate way to figure out your dog’s breed and possible medical complications that can impact them in the future. If you are interested in specific testing due to medical reasons, it’s best to speak with your veterinarian about options they recommend.
Some reputable DNA testing companies include:
- Idexx ( you will need to speak with your vet about this option)
- Wisdom Panel
- Embark Dog DNA
- DNA My Dog
We recommend speaking with your vet before starting this process, as they may have their own suggestions as well.
2. Check Paperwork From Your Dog’s Breeder
While you likely know what breed your dog is if you purchased your pup from a specific breeder, but it’s possible for records to get lost or forgotten.
If you purchased your pup from an AKC registered breeder, you should be able to retrieve pedigree information on your individual dog.
If you are looking to purchase a purebred dog from a breeder that claims to be registered, but does not provide any paperwork, it’s best to explore other breeders.
3. Talk To Your Veterinarian
A veterinarian sees a large variety of dog breeds throughout their career, so there’s no better professional to ask for advice on your dog’s breed based on their appearance.
By speaking with your vet, they may have some answers based on physical features they see on physical exam or can give you recommendations on ways to continue to seek your answers.
Another professional to seek for a breed opinion is your breeder if your dog has one.
They also work with a variety of breeds and handle many different types of fur, so they could give you some insight that others may not be able to give.
4. Physical Appearance
When it comes to evaluating your dog’s physical appearance in an effort to determine their breed, there are several factors that you need to consider:
Weight And Height
If you are attempting to weigh your dog at home, you can do this by standing on your scale by yourself and weighing yourself, then stand on the scale while you hold your dog, and the difference between those two weights is your dog’s weight alone.
To measure their height, simply use a measuring tape to measure the height of your dog from the ground to the top of their head. By acquiring these numbers, you can compare your dog’s size to other breeds.
Assess Their Build
This is an important part of assessing your dog for an answer on their possible breed. Try your best to make a note of any defining characteristics.
Assess the shape of their head, the muscles around their face, the length of their body, the shape of their ears, their overall muscle mass, and any other characteristics on their body that you think sets them apart.
These characteristics can be the key to determining their possible DNA makeup.
Unique Physical Traits
While this is similar to assessing their build, this speaks for the traits that really stand out.
Do they have a squished snout, do they have an obvious stripe going down their back, do they have long droopy ears, etc? Make sure to write these traits down for your search.
Assess Their Fur
Your dog’s fur can say a lot about where they come from. While petting or grooming your dog each day, you may notice significant characteristics that stand out.
Make a note of the texture, the curl, the thickness, and any other characteristic that their fur has.
Since fur is such a defining characteristic of many breeds, this can help you during your search.
Evaluate Their Coat Color
While you may not think your dog’s coat color can help you determine their breed, you may be surprised. Some breeds are known for their unique coats, so it’s important to keep your dog’s coat color in mind.
Also, keep an eye out for any unique patterns on their coats such as spots, stripes, and any other traits that stand out.
There was a study performed on self-proclaimed “dog experts” and if they could accurately guess a dog’s breed based on physical appearance. During this study, they found that these dog experts were only correct 27% of the time.
While guessing their breed based on physical appearance alone is not always accurate, it’s usually enough to satisfy the curious dog owner.
5. Use The Internet
Luckily for us, the internet is vast with pictures of dogs and helpful breed information.
By scanning through dog breed information and photos of official dog breeds, this can help you come to a conclusion about the possibility of your dog’s lineage.
This is where your collected information on your dog’s physical traits will come in handy, as these breeds are often separated by size and distinguishing traits.
Once you can determine their size range based on their weight and measurements, you can jump to certain categories that fit your pet’s unique characteristics.
By browsing breeds by category, this can help you determine which breeds you should further look into.
Tips To Remember When Discovering Your Dog’s Breed
Now that we’ve discussed some of the most common tools to help you determine your dog’s breed, let’s cover some key points to help you with your search.
- DNA tests recommended waiting until puppies are 4 weeks old to send out samples.
- If you are basing your guess on physical appearance, wait until they are at least 1 year old.
- Make sure to write down your dog’s traits and characteristics as you assess them so you don’t forget any details.
- Make sure to calculate their weight and height, as this will help you during your search.
- Speak with your vet about the most accurate options for you.
- While basing your conclusion on physical appearance can help you, it won’t always be accurate. If you are looking for a precise answer about your dog’s breed, you will need to do DNA testing.
- Remember that the larger the sample you can obtain, the more accurate your DNA results will be.
- If you are purchasing your dog from a reputable breeder, they should always provide paperwork on breed information and medical history. If not, consider another breeder.
We understand the curiosity that fuels your breed search, and luckily there are many options to help you learn a bit more about your pup.
Make sure to explore every avenue mentioned above, and you can be one step closer to determining your dog’s breed!