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February 03, 2010


Dianne Rhodes

Hi, I volunteer at the Washington Animal Rescue League... I'm a dog trainer and an adoption counselor. I also just attended a talk-back sponsored by WHS on pitbulls, where participants were quizzed on both of those posters. The discussion leader was a bit taken aback when I suggested No. 7 was a pitbull.

WARL started using Meet your Match in March of 2008. The staff were highly skeptical at first. But it has proved to be so useful in helping to describe a dog (or cat) that now its second nature. I do see that people still pick by looks, but that's okay with me. I tell my potential adopters that now that DNA tests are available that is the only accurate way to know breed, and that we find that our guesses are wrong 85% of the time. Some shelters don't use breed designation. WHS uses "wiggle butt" and other descriptions instead of breed. Boston shelters use "North American Shelter dog".


Regarding the Breed Identification: It was very humbling indeed. I work @ a shelter in Central NY, where 95% of strays that come in get labeled as a pit or pit mix by dog control based solely on looks. Such a shame that we do need to label any of them... we are doing these dogs such a huge disservice...

Melissa Bollbach

Great article Tabitha!

I don't trust DNA tests too much...the same dog can get different results from multiple
tests. With domestic dogs diverging from other canids only 10,000 years or so before the present, it's not surprising that most dogs would share enough DNA to confuse those breed ID tests. After all, it was only in the past couple of centuries that humans really got strict about closing genetic stock for each breed. I've read that earlier breeders often incorporated dogs from other breeds to strengthen certain characteristics.

Meet Your Match is a much better system that accounts for both nature and nurture, since a dog's past environment and experience can be a bigger factor than his breed - especially important with adult dogs! My dog Bear was a "purple" dog in the "Constant Companion" category and his mellow energy level suits me perfectly. When people ask me what kind of dog he is, I say, a big furry one.

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