October 6, 2016
Categories: Research

People, even veterinarians and animal shelter workers, are notoriously poor at identifying dog breeds. What’s more, there’s a growing trend to stop identifying shelter dogs by their breed at all. A recent study at Berkeley Animal Care Services in California took a look at whether or not obtaining DNA tests on dogs in the shelter helped or hindered adoption. The study was funded by Maddie’s Fund®.

“We were interested in providing a grant to Berkeley because of the role that a dog’s breed and breed identification play in adoption,” said Maddie’s Fund Director of Research Dr. Sheila D’Arpino. “We were interested in supporting research looking at how breed identification influenced the likelihood of adoption. Learning about factors that influence the decision to adopt a dog can help shelters and rescue groups to provide potential adopters with information to help them make informed adoption decisions.”

In the study, shelter staff identified the predominant breed of a mixed breed dog only 16 percent of the time, mirroring results of other studies. Additionally, researchers found that:

  • There was a trend toward DNA testing (and posting the results on the dog’s kennel) improving adoptability
  • Adoptability was significantly increased in 23 percent of dogs in the survey
  • Adoptability was significantly decreased in 5 percent of the dogs in the survey

“While there was a trend toward the availability of DNA analysis increasing the likelihood of adoption, the results were not statistically significant,” said Dr. D’Arpino. “More work is needed to look at the effect of DNA analysis and breed identification on adoption.”

In order to further investigate these findings, “Maddie’s Fund would be happy to consider funding other grant proposals related to the influence of DNA analysis and breed identification (or lack thereof) on adoption, if the proposal has a likelihood of impacting lifesaving efforts in the U.S.,” she said. Interested applicants can contact Maddie’s Fund about a proposal at research@maddiesfund.org.

Download a summary of the study results here.