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Test unlocks dog's DNA secrets

When PETCO introduced the Canine Heritage Breed Test ($69.99 to $119.99) in their stores this summer, we had to wonder: Can it really identify the breed of a dog? So we asked two of our staffers to try it out with their dogs. The tests are available in most Tampa Bay area stores as well as online at

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Muppet came to us lacking history or pedigree, just another mutt at another high-kill shelter.

She has a patchwork coat, bull-whip tail, freckled nose, Yoda ears. When she runs, her tongue unfurls and flaps in the wind. She can zap you with it from across the room, like a frog.

I found her on, a matchmaking site for homeless critters. The description said pit bull/Lab mix, and that's all I knew about her when I picked her up. I've had pit bulls before, and recognized the goofy disposition and full-body wiggle. But she was too svelte for a Lab. Her adoption papers say "pointer mix." Greyhound, my neighbor offered. We pondered every option: Basenji? Border collie? Ibizan hound?

At home, she bolted through the yard like a quarter horse. When we turned on the water hose, she leaped 3 feet, like a mullet.

"What is that?" neighbors asked on our walks. I shrugged.

We were stoked about the DNA test. My stepson swabbed. Muppet squirmed. It only took a minute. We waited four weeks for the answer.

While we waited, we learned that she loves every human, toddler to geezer, and every animal except for lizards. She loves baseball, and watches the Rays on our enormous hi-def TV, flicking her ears and following the ball. Perhaps she feels kinship with Raymond, the lovable doglike genetic hash of a mascot.

At obedience class, she was the annoying girl who skipped to the back of the book. I started to think she was a border collie, for her brains and ball obsession, and a pit bull, for the way she leaned her head on my shoulder.

The envelope arrived the other day.

Border collie. Staffordshire bull terrier.


Kelley Benham can be reached at [email protected]

Test unlocks dog's DNA secrets 10/06/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 10, 2008 11:14am]
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