Mixed Breed Owners: What You See Is What You Get?

Discussion in 'Dog Breeds' started by brodys_mom, Jul 2, 2013.

  1. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I've been reading Stanley Coren's "Why Does My Dog Act That Way?", which is about dog personalities, and has a lot of interesting information on the history of dog domestication. Anyway, most of the book refers to predicting the personality of purebreds, but there is an interesting paragraph on mixed, or "random-bred" dogs. Essentially, he says that we lose the predictability by not knowing which genes came from which parent breed. However:

    "John Paul Scott and John L. Fuller carried out a series of selective breeding experiments at the Jackson Laboratories in Bar harbor, Maine. By a happy chance, their results revealed a simple rule that seems to work. Their general conclusion was that a mixed breed dog is most likely to act like the breed that it most looks like. Thus, if a Labrador retriever- German shepherd cross looks much like a Labrador retriever, it will probably act much like a Labrador retriever. If it looks more like a German shepherd, its behavior will be very German shepherd-like. On the other hand, as we discussed earlier, most mixed-breed dogs have some predispositions and behaviors that are characteristic of both breeds that contributed to it. The more of a blend that the dog's physical appearance seems to be, the more likely that the dog's behavior will be a blend of the two parent breeds. Thus, if you want an estimate of a mixed-breed dog's personality, first decide which pure breed it looks most like and then use that as your prediction. It won't be 100 percent accurate, but it should be close."

    For Brody, the most "Border Collie" thing about him is his coat. His body shape, to me at least, seems to be more "retriever-ish", or maybe hound or setter of some sort. I did the personality profile in the book, which asks questions about five different traits: dominance/territoriality, intelligence/learning ability, emotional reactivity, sociability, and energy. He scored moderately low on all except dominance/territoriality, which was moderately high. For the typical Border Collie, these would all be very high EXCEPT dominance/territoriality, which would be moderately low. ( I was quite surprised by the results, as I would have guessed he would have scored higher on the reactivity and intelligence. Maybe I'll retake the test.)

    For those of you with mixed-breed dogs, do you find the conclusion of the study to be true for your dog?
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  2. southerngirl Honored Member

    To me Missy looks more Border Collie than she does Lab(her shape, size,fur, eyes, tail) and she also acts more like a Border Collie(she learns quickly, herds some animals, lots of energy, sensitive, my shadow)
    Chase looks more like a Lab than Dalmatian(tail, body shape, head) In Chase's younger days he loved to eat, Chase loves swimming, he is a happy go lucky dog, when he was younger he was very tolerant, used to be agile, loves people. and so on.
    So for Chase and Missy yes they act more like the breeds they look like, but their other mixes definitely play a part in their personality, such as Missy is not as high energy as a Border Collie, and would not be good for herding.
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  3. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I'm really becoming more curious of what Brody's "other" breed(s) is (are). He's really a pretty laid back guy, considering his age and history. When I first saw him and his sister at the shelter, Border Collie didn't even cross my mind. I've been looking through the personality chart at the back of this book to see what breeds that he resembles have the same traits as he does, so far I'm coming up blank. I would say his coloring/coat, size, bark and reactivity are the most "BC" things.
  4. sara Moderator

    Well, Oliver acts like an Irish Terrier, mostly (and I do think that's what he's 1/2 of) but I have no idea what the other half is, so I couldn't tell you!
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  5. Mutt Experienced Member

    Boef is a 50/5o mixed breed, labrador x bernese mountain dog. She looks/acts like a mix (lab posture, but bernese markings)
    Mazzel is a labrador (37,5%), golden retriever (25%) and stabyhoun (37,5%) mix. Mazzel looks mostly like a lab.

    To be honost I can't really say, this is typical lab behavior or typical bernese mountain dog/golden/stabyhoun.
    They are just typical Boef and typical Mazzel. The fact that Boef makes her own plan sometimes is her bernese mountain dog stubborness and Mazzel being vocal is a stabyhoun trait, may be true, but for me those are just the characteristics of my dogs.

    So I never really get why people are like 'oooh now that I know the breed it makes so much more sense!'.
    A dog is a dog and breed shouldn't really be an issue as how to treat him/her.
    If your dog seems to need more exercise/more consequence/has hunting issues/is easily scared or something else you should act on it, whether it is a shi tzu, great dane, border collie or a complete mutt.

    I also know dogs that look like a certain breed, but act differently (molosser-type dog (bordeaux dog) with a more retriever/hunting dog character).

    That is easier for people to take a breed as those have an fairly predictable character so that you know what you get is something else.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  6. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I agree, Mutt. I just found the idea interesting and wondered whether most people found it to be true for their dogs. I fully expected Brody to mostly act like a Border Collie, as that was the only breed I knew. But the more I've gotten to know him, and the more pictures of Border Collies I've seen, I've come to realize that most of his personality and physical appearance are not typical to BCs at all. Looking through the profiles of the different breeds in this book hasn't helped me figure out what his more dominant breed could be, so it's probably more than one or two others. I don't even know if the mother was a purebred BC. He is beautiful and unique, regardless of his genetic makeup, and it won't change the way I treat him. But there are those who have said things like, "If you didn't want a dog that (fill in the blank negative behavior), then you shouldn't have got a (fill in the blank difficult dog breed)." And this is how most shelters profile their stray or mixed breed dogs, because they simply don't have the time to properly assess them based on actual real-life experience with the individual.
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  7. 648117 Honored Member

    Well, I don't think Holly really looks or act most like any specific breed.
    She is 50% Pug, 25% Bichon and 25% Fox Terrier.
    [IMG] [IMG]


    From a distance people sometimes mistake her for a Pug. She has a Pug shaped body and colour but is less stocky so I think her longer coat sort of fills in the gaps to make her body look more pug-like at a distance but then up close she doesn't look so Pug.

    Her colour is definitely from the Pug (fawn) and her broud shoulders. Her curly tail is most likely Pug but Bichons also have curly tails. Her face is wrong for all the breeds.
    Her coat is wrong for all her breeds, it's straight and midlength - I have never cut any of it.
    She moults a little (so not Bichon) but not as much as I've been told that Pugs do. One person suggested that the Bichon genes lengthed a Foxy coat.

    A lot of people guess that she is a Border Terrier X (although some people have guessed pure Border) or Cairn Terrier X. But when she is next to both those breeds (there are three Borders at agility and one Cairn and we know another Cairn) it is obvious she is not them (too small for a Border and coat wrong texture and colour, doesn't have pointed Cairn ears or wire coat and face completely wrong). One Border Terrier breeder was convinced that she was at least part Border. (I agree that she looks a bit like a stocky Border Terrier with too soft fur)

    So I guess she looks most like a terrier but she doesn't have many terrier personality traits at all. eg, she's never been in a disagreement with another dog (the Cairn at agility is always trying to start something with the Borders (which respond) but Holly gets on with all of them perfectly), she is fine with my sisters rabbit and has only dug two holes as a puppy and never did again (I did nothing to stop her and if anything encouraged her when I wanted to take some photos of her diggging).

    My mum wanted a Pug. But Holly was not what she expected at all.
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  8. Gracegeorgina Experienced Member

    Poesie is a cairn x Pyrenean shepherd (that I bred myself).. When choosing one of the puppies (there were 5) I was hoping to end up with the one most like mum (character wise). I ended up picking Poesie based on her temperament and she is the most like Poppy (mum). AND, she is now the only one who looks like her :D
    The one that looks most like Gilbert (dad) is the one that acts most like him too! So I think what is being said could be true :)
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  9. brody_smom Experienced Member

    She is such a cutie-pie! It really helps that you know exactly what mix she is, rather than trying to guess just from her appearance. If you shaved Bichon down, you might see more of the skeleton shape. The coloring definitely is influenced strongly by the pug with the dark ears and muzzle.

    Here is what the book says about each of her breeds:

    Pug: very low dominance/territoriality and emotional reactivity; moderately low intelligence; moderately high sociability and energy

    Bichon: very low dominance/territoriality, moderately low reactivity, moderately high energy, very high intelligence and sociability

    Fox terrier: moderately low intelligence, moderately high sociability and emotional reactivity, very high dominance/territoriality and energy.
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  10. 648117 Honored Member

    That's interesting.
    In those criteria I guess I would say Holly is low dominance/territoriality, probably medium/low reactivity, very high intelligence, medium sociality (for both dogs and people), moderately high energy.
    So a real mix of those breeds! (and the Pug doesn't seem to dominate)

    Most people assume she is a terrier of some sort (Border terrier X usually) so I guess that if I didn't know her breeding then that's what I would have labelled her as, and it would be wrong.
    When people call her a terrier I always correct them and say "no, she is only 1/4 terrier" then they are interested to find out what breeds she is, once I've told them they always say they can see the Pug and Bichon but not the Foxy which I find extra funny since they originally called her a terrier!

    I guess it just shows that when you don't know the true breeding it can be easy to guess wrong and that a mixed breed can look like breeds that they have none of in them.

    If you did know what Brody is then I bet you would start to see those breeds in him where you may not have before.

    Also, the other day while walking Holly I had someone stop us and say that she looks like a Bichon/Cairn terrier that they know :LOL:

    Maybe you should start a new "guess what breeds Brody might be" thread if you want more suggestions of breeds to look up.
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  11. brody_smom Experienced Member

    If I was just to rate Brody's personality just by observation, not by answering the questions, I would put him moderately low on dominance/territoriality, mod. high reactivity, mod. high intelligence, mod. low sociability, mod. high energy. The profile placed mod. low for everything but dominance/territoriality, which was mod. high. The two breeds that give the same profile are Sealyham terrier and Rhodesian ridgeback, neither of which is even in the realm of possibility. Which leads me to thing he must be a mix of at least 3 breeds.
  12. Caiti Experienced Member

    Wylie is a JRT/miniature poodle, and we looks mostly and acts like a JRT. I've had people ask if he was a wire-haired JRT before. He acts/looks a lot like a JRT but some of his body looks more poodle-ish and his coat can get curly. He is also slightly more mellow than most JRTs.
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  13. barnhill Experienced Member

    Our Mixed Breed Sagira is a rescue and we havent had a DNA test done so we have to go off of what the rescue told us. They told us she was a Huskie/Sheltie mix. We see traits from both breeds for sure in her too. I wouldnt say she acts like one or the other though.
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  14. brody_smom Experienced Member

    She is absolutely gorgeous! Those eyes are so striking against her tan. She's like a supermodel or something! From the pictures it's hard to see how big she is. Does she have Husky legs or Sheltie legs? Just from those pics I would say she looks more Husky than Sheltie. I returned the book to the library, otherwise I would tell you what the profiles are for both breeds.
  15. Mutt Experienced Member

    Woow Barnhill I probably have said it before but she is gorgeous! She sure reminds me of the husky x shepherds I've seen.
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  16. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Sagira is... gorgeous!

    I haven't taken the personality profile for my dogs, because I don't own the book.

    However, I can say that for Hosen that is mostly true. While people confuse him with a GSD, I think he looks very much like a Siberian Husky mix (although he seems to be a GSD x Husky mix, I think his dominant breed would be Husky). And he has a total husky personality.

    With Flor, I'm not sure. She did seem to have some greyhound in her. The only thing she seems to get from the breed, though, is the high prey drive.

    I think that while many see Winston as a collie mix, I think he's a brittany mix (mostly). He may have some collie in it, but his body structure is totally brittany-like (also, naturally docked tail!). He does seem to have some characteristics similar to the breed (from what I'm reading right now). He's a very sensitive dog, and shuts down when someone tries to physically correct him. I learned recently that he enjoys chasing stuff (besides me). He is also glued to my side when I'm home, and when I'm not, he glues to somebody else's side. But he's definitely not an active dog. He's a couch potato just like me.
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  17. barnhill Experienced Member

    Sagira is 19 3/4 inches tall ( I know exact because we do agility..LOL) so she is considerably smaller than a Husky, but her markings and independent mindedness are very husky like.

    She has a very high pitched bark and looks like a short haired Sheltie, her brother has long hair and looks just like a Sheltie. She has the sheltie bark and loves to have her butt scratched. LOL
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  18. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Hosen has a very high pitched bark too! It's very funny to see such a big dog barking like a small cocker. Maybe it's part of the husky traits too? Also he loves butt scratches. He doesn't care much about petting, EXCEPT for butt scratches! He's a very funny dog.
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  19. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Brody's bark changes with the situation. His pitch is decidedly higher when he is watching the neighbors cat pooping in the flower garden right outside the front window.:p
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  20. brody_smom Experienced Member

    After meeting a woman who owns an Australian Shepherd, I'm beginning to rethink Brody's breed. She said she thought Brody was a purebred Aussie, and it got me wondering why people say that when I tell them he is a border collie. I looked into the breed characteristics, as well as a forum (not DTA) discussion about the differences between the two breeds, and I really think that Aussie is more likely than border collie. A really interesting thing I found was about tails. Brody's tail curls right up over his back, a trait that is considered a defect in border collies. But because Aussie tails are usually docked, there is no way to detect this defect so it wouldn't have been bred out. In Europe, where docking is illegal, there are all kinds of tails that show up in Aussies, varying in carriage, feathering and curling. His goofy personality, lack of "eye", upright gait and tricolor coat are also more suggestive of an Aussie than a border collie. Makes me wonder about the original owner if she was the one that told the SPCA that the pups were border collie mixes!
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