18 January 2017

WELFARE - Will Ending Dog Breed Identification Increase Adoptions?

What kind of dog is that?

It’s a question that dog owners, shelter and rescue workers, animal control and veterinarians are asked all the time.

Often the answer is an educated guess.

Visual identification of dog breeds is often inaccurate and even the most educated can disagree when looking at a specific canine.

Dogs can now be identified using DNA, and studies comparing visual identification with DNA results show the two rarely match.

At the same time there is a struggle determining the breeds in mixed canines, the public is inundated with information about how to choose the right dog for them based on breed characteristics.

Often the way a dog is labeled can impact how quickly - or slowly - they get adopted.

This is particularly true for dogs with large, blocky heads who can have the biggest challenge finding a home.

So, what is a shelter, rescue or animal control to do?

Some believe it is time to stop playing the breed identification guessing game in order to increase adoptions and make better matches between people and pets.

This may be a challenge to human nature that loves to label things in order to understand them better.

And how can an adopter know how big a puppy is going to get if they don’t know the breed?

To help this evolution, Maddie’s Fund is presenting a free webinar tomorrow - January 19th - featuring Kristen Auerbach of Austin Animal Center, in Austin, TX, and Caitlin Quinn, Director of Operations at HeARTs Speak.

The 90 minute webinar will cover:
  • The genetic science of dog breeds
  • The inaccuracy of breed guessing
  • How choosing a companion based on an accurate personality profile is a better approach than guessing at breed
  • What research tells us about behavioural variability of individuals within all dog breeds
  • How breed labels affect all dogs
  • The consequences of breed labeling dogs of unknown origin
  • How guessing at breed causes confusion and false expectations
  • What to do about shelter software that requires a breed label
  • And more.

The webinar includes time for Q&A.

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