Echo is the kind of dog that people don’t try to pet as they walk by, instead choosing to make a comment such as, “Wow, your dog is huge,” or my favorite, “Whoa, your boyfriend lets you walk that dog by yourself?”
Echo is a mutt. A big one. She barks like a shepherd and talks like a hound, and if I had to name a special talent of hers, it would be that when she jumps up to greet a guy, she always manages to land precisely on his most-sensitive appendage.
A few weeks ago, I managed to get my hands on the Wisdom Panel 2.0, which is a test that is supposed to tell me what Echo actually is. I swabbed the inside of her cheek and sent her DNA sample off. I didn’t think I’d care that much one way or another, but I found myself checking my email for the results. After about three weeks, I got the email.
Me? I’m part shocked.
And Echo? She’s part Miniature Poodle.
Shepherd + Mastiff + Miniature Poodle = Echo?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t see the resemblance. According to her chart, she has ancestry with a German Shepherd, Mastiff and Miniature Poodle, along with other mixed breeds that couldn’t be determined.
I was so skeptical that I went straight to Google to figure out if these genetic tests are the real deal. Surprisingly, the tests do a pretty good job, with the Wisdom Panel 2.0 coming in with a 90 percent accuracy rate. According to VIN News Service, the tests don’t use genes at all but rather “repeating sequences of DNA known as microsatellites,” which are extremely similar in some cases (like Mastiffs and Chihuahuas) but completely unique in others, which is how they can begin to separate a dog’s ancestry. So, they’re not looking for physical markers like snub noses or short legs, nor personality markers like aggression or docility, but strictly at the ancestral stuff that shows up in DNA.
As for my dog, when people ask me “What IS she?” I’ll probably stick to my go-to “She’s just a big mutt” and leave the Miniature Poodle talk only to those who won’t judge her.