What breeds would you think make up Joey, the dog pictured above?
PEOPLE executive editor and Joey’s owner Elizabeth Sporkin was certain her rescue pooch was a Chihuahua/Dachshund mix, also known as Chiweenie.
Sporkin put her guess to the test — a Wisdom Panel dog DNA test, that is. After a simple cheek swab, the editor sent in her dog’s DNA to Wisdom Health and waited for Joey’s results.
Wisdom Health, the genetic-research pet-care company that created Wisdom Panel, has tested more than 1 million dogs. Its database has more than 250 breeds and varieties, plus 1,800 genetic markers for more than 150 diseases and traits.
It turns out Sporkin was half right. Joey is a Cheagle, or a mix of Chihuahua and Beagle.
Sporkin isn’t the first dog lover to discover her preconceived notions about how dog breeds physically exhibit themselves aren’t always right.
Elinor Karlsson, assistant professor of bioinformatics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, recently conducted a survey in which respondents were asked to guess the ancestry, by looks alone, of 31 dogs. Nearly 35,000 people participated.
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“Most did badly,” says Karlsson. “The highest score was 50 percent, and that was achieved by only one person.”
According to Wisdom Health veterinary geneticist Angela Hughes, these cases of mistaken identity are due partly to how the genes of different dog breeds exhibit themselves.
“Sometimes hidden breeds may not manifest physically but behaviorally,” Hughes says. “Knowing what makes your dog tick can be helpful.”
While Hughes says most dog owners get a dog DNA test out of curiosity, these simple tests provide more information that just what breeds make up your mutt. Dog DNA tests like those provided by Wisdom Panel can also help owners discover genetic mutations that might lead to canine health issues.
To learn more about dog DNA tests and what they can reveal about your canine, pick up the most recent issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.