Note: Gwen was sweetly compensated after Wisdom Panel found out about this post!
There’s more fish than dog in our Gwenny’s background.
I got a text one January morning last year from my husband that included a picture of a puppy.
“Can we get her?”
My husband is a very impulsive being. Going to a simple thrift store, for instance, he could fill up the cart and grab another without thinking twice about it, and then probably leave the bags of purchases in the car “to get later.” Guess he really needed that stuff, huh? I mean, I love thrifting as much as the next person-I actually really love to squeeze dimes out of pennies…but my husband…drives me crazy in that regard. Love him anyway-because that’s the definition of love. Awwwwwww.
He had wanted a dog for years, but we both worked multiple jobs a piece and I didn’t feel like that was fair to a dog. He made the mistake once in talking to a Great Dane (my dream dog) breeder, in which case I told him that when we ever got a dog, we would be going to a shelter…even if they’re not a full-blooded whatevers, there are plenty of animals that need love, and I’d gone that way before. No breeder. No offense against breeders or those of you who got your four-legged family members from a breeder. It’s just not my style. When the time came, I could easily find a mostly Great Dane, and I was cool with that. We’re all mutts anyway, if you think about it.
Back to the text.
I asked what breed said puppy was. He replied with “they think pitbull and American Bulldog.”
Ok-so I’m a huge fan of bully breeds-my favorite dog of all time was a Cane Corso mastiff, he was INCREDIBLE with kids. He had had a fighting background, but in his old age when he graced my life, he could not get enough of children pounding on his scarred belly. The smaller the kid, the more his tongue laid to one side, feeling the love on his back. Bully breeds have a really bad reputation…but I stand strong in my belief that they grow with their pack leader’s example (that should be their owner). Bully breeds, however, DO test boundaries. Constantly. Their pack leaders need to be firm and consistent, or they will take total advantage of their family. Likewise, they are not for the novice owner, or an owner who wants an easy companion who will lie on the floor and fetch a stick or go for a run once in awhile. They are all VERY high energy and thrive in consistency. Without it, they take over the relationship. Plus, they still have the canine instinct to please…which is what has gotten them that bad name. If you are out walking and see a “bully breed dog”, meaning a mastiff, pit, akita, rottweiler, german shepherd, bloodhound, bulldog, boxer, and several terriers-ask the owner if you can pet them. Simple, right? Then, feel free to ask them questions. Bringing community together, right there.
Once again, back to the text. Sheesh.
I replied a shorter version of my rant above, telling him that both of those breeds are very high energy and need firm direction. She wouldn’t be a running dog, for awhile anyway, he as the pack leader would have to set firm rules and be constantly vigilant with them, and she would need to be stimulated constantly and get exercise every day. Not the couch potato but game for a good time on occasion kind of a dog. Plus, we still both worked a couple jobs each, but that we could talk about what we might want in a dog later.
Later, he came in the door with a puppy he had met some woman at a PetSmart after work and handed her $40. A friend of a friend of a friend. Or something. Not much of a solid story. Yeah. Remember the impulsive mentioned earlier? I wasn’t kidding.
It wasn’t the breeds I was tripping over. It was her size. Literally, I was tripping over her, and it took me a long time to not go psychotic. I was used to large dogs, 100 pounds plus, and that’s the way I like them. You just play bumper cars in the kitchen, and one needs to make sure things are up high enough in that scenario. This breed mixture was going to give me a 50 pound dog max, that could probably jump to get anything she wanted.
Two days after this MAYBE two month non-potty trained dog entered the front door, I found out I was pregnant – just to put this week further into perspective. You’re welcome.
Fast forward to last Christmastime, and trying to decide what to get my husband. We do practical things in this house, often to the annoyance of said husband, but that’s how I roll. Anyway, after Gwen (Guinevere, for the King Arthur nerd I married) grew, we realized that there was probably no bulldog, but she looked like a small pitbull. She was roughly 14 months old at this point, 45 pounds, and VERY clingy. We have a joke that’s not a joke that if Gwen is 6 inches from you, it’s too far. So, we were telling people that she was some sort of pit mix, and I thought she had some sort of companion dog in her – think Shelties, Corgies, several terriers – or some sort of herding dog, since she seemed to love to herd people and other dogs. So, I decided enough was enough, I was tired of telling people “not sure, some sort of pit mix”, and I ordered a DNA testing kit from Wisdom Panel.
What? You tested your dog’s DNA? How? What??
It’s SUPER simple. It’s just making sure the dog doesn’t eat or drink anything in the course of five minutes (husband just did tricks with her and talked to her during the waiting time) – take one of the swabs in the kit and swab their cheek and set it in the designated spot, and at the end of the five minutes swab with the other swab given in the kit. Seal it, mail it, and wait. In a few weeks, Wisdom Panel sends you a link to your dog’s report in an email, and it is SO FUN to pour through. They test back to your dog’s great-grandparents, it’s wild! They also enclose things like how your dog’s breed combo might sway in temperament, how much they could end up weighing, how long they could live, common health concerns based on breed results, and other breed-specific information, even if your dog is a mix of several breeds. You can order your own test from Wisdom Panel, the leader in dog testing here.
So, we waited. Anxiously. We were even just curious if it would come back saying she was a Pomeranian and Beagle mix or something, and we’d laugh at the inaccuracy and move on with life.
The dog with the fishiest origin story I’ve ever heard is a…pureblood?
But she’s way too tiny for an AmStaff, we told each other.
So she’s 3 pounds above the lowest for a female AmStaff. Got it.
Why does this matter?
Well, first, it shows that you can come across pure-blooded breeds in our shelters (and otherwise abandoned) places. It also told us that we needed to work on her behavior. Things that we excused to her “mixed” breed simply didn’t hold any water. For instance, her habit of “herding” other dogs is likely NOT that – she’s trying to show dominance in a new group. Now that we know the full picture of her temperament, we are able to correct that, instead of letting it happen because we assume that it’s some other breed in there somewhere giving her that “harmless” quality. She used to love to stand over my legs when I sat on the couch – I always chalked it up to annoying clinging. Nope – a dog standing over anything is claiming dominance. So now, I know to consistently redirect that and I make her lie on the floor at my feet EVERY time instead of often ignoring the situation. Finding out these results also made us hyper-aware of how much she needs to be stimulated, and how lucky we are that she hasn’t chosen to rip through any drywall on rainy days, or really rip up anything except her own toys, for that matter. We can also notice her loyalty and enthusiasm, a couple of big AmStaff traits, easily shine through, and we no longer mistake it as something else of “some other breed she’s mixed with”, and consistently praise her for those traits. See what I mean? Knowing how your dog works in their head helps immensely in promoting a calm household – and in my family, a rigid pack order. Even though Gwen tries periodically to show dominance, which is a big breed characteristic, we aren’t able to ignore it anymore, knowing exactly what she is doing and correcting it to make her be the last pack member in line. If you have young kids, I really suggest checking your dog’s DNA-not only is it REALLY fun, but it can give you major clues to the little things your dog does, whether they are good or bad.
A brief note on American Staffordshire Terriers, because I have to set the record straight.
Although there is a breed called an American Pit Bull Terrier that was originally bred to bait bulls and later moved inside to become “nanny dogs” to children, the AmStaff Terrier is one breed of several that commonly makes up the “pit bull” name. This “type” of classification is given to the American Bulldog and Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the American Pit Bull Terrier. Quickly doing a picture search of these breeds will show you why – they all have that obvious square face shape and stalky build everyone attributes to “a pit bull.” Rarely when you come up to a dog one would call a “pit bull”, is it actually of the particular breed given that name.
However, they all have different temperaments, strengths, and weaknesses, just like any dog, or human, for that matter! Just like we don’t want to be generalized, don’t generalize a breed – of dog, cat, horse, chicken…you get the idea. Sure, you can dislike a breed – just like I dislike cats and malls. But it’s a totally different thing if I continuously voice my hatred toward cats and malls to everyone I meet, and try to get them to hate them also. Calm down folks. Some Rottweilers are jerks, just the same as some Pomeranians are jerks. I only recommend you see what went into the making of your pet for fun and to glean some awesome information, as well as quit hating on breeds you don’t understand and instead ask questions. I mean, I don’t understand why anyone would want a dog that’s basically a cat…just get a cat then…but I’m not going to tell you that you made a poor decision (but really-don’t you trip over them constantly? I’m confused…)
Please share your breed stories and photos! Have you ever tested your dog’s breed?