Wednesday, August 26, 2009

DNA testing for dogs? What’s so great about that?

By Stephanie Ladeira, VP of Development and recent DNA contest guesser winner

HSSV recently started providing DNA testing for dogs through our medical center using the Mars Wisdom Panel MX. Pretty exciting stuff – and not just frivolous, either. The benefits of DNA testing are many, but probably the two most useful are to better understand your dog’s behavior and to provide preventative care for breed specific health issues. Have a Lab mix that seems more oriented to one person than entire populations, like a normal Labrador? You might find out that there’s a large percentage of Rottweiler in there, which would explain the behavior and help you to provide the most appropriate environment for your dog. Or maybe you have a little dog that looks like a Chihuahua, but nips toes and heels to keep you moving in the right direction. DNA testing can help identify that your small dog actually has a large percentage of Heeler in him. Explaining behavior can be tantamount to managing undesirable behaviors and teaching dogs in ways that they learn best.

Recently, HSSV’s Animal Welfare Director, Dr. Julia Lewis, sponsored HSSV’s first DNA test. She asked HSSV staff and volunteers to vote on a dog to be the first DNA test at HSSV. Many dogs (favorites of staff and volunteers) were voted on, but the winner was Teeka. Teeka and her mother, Cannelita, have been with us at HSSV for 5 months, while they wait for us to find them the perfect home, together (watch their funny video here). We rescued these two silly girls from a public shelter when their time was up (at that point, they were depressed and shy) and they have blossomed into fun-loving, affectionate little “piglets” in the time we’ve been caring for them. To see them in action, watch the video of them after a vigorous play session here.

After 2 weeks, the DNA test came back – and while the most popular breeds guessed were chihuahua and pot bellied pig, only one person even came close to guessing what these girls had in them! In fact, only one person guessed a large breed dog could exist in these little waggy wiggle worms.

The resu
Drum roll: 25% Chihuahua, and 12.5% GOLDEN RETRIEVER (which makes sense, as Cannelita loves to fetch!) and 12.5% Cocker Spaniel! I bet that last 50% is pot bellied pig, which just doesn’t show up on the test...

BTW, Teeka and Cannelita are on hold for a potential adopter – so keep your fingers crossed that all goes well with their introductions to the other dogs in the household and that these girls can finally be in a home of their own. If you are interested in finding your own Teeka or Cannelita, check out our special animals available for adoption.