Friday, March 6, 2015

WTH is Brockle?

Gotta admit folks. The more I learn about this genetic stuff, the more I'm sure that I don't have a clue what my boy is.

A thought occurred to me, what if one parent was homozygous? The one with the fluffy white coat?
I think that's about where my brain froze.

Plus, if my results come out like this one...

I saw this dog on the Wisdom Panel Dog Community. Wow! I thought. This one is close.
BUT here are her test results:
25% Australian Shepherd, 25% Bloodhound 25% Boxer 25% SharPei
If Brockle's results are similar, well, I guess we found his mom. But if they are this screwy with different breeds...I'm doing it again, because I just can't see Bloodhound, Boxer and Sharpei in the dog above.

These tests periodically come back with some really wonky breeds listed. I'd say 80% of them looked about right.

Brockle's second test is being processed, so it's about time for me to suck it up and guess.

It was so hard to sort out my mutt by his looks, I went back to who he is. I tried to think through his behaviors, then went back to the breeds most likely to have them.
I also thought hard about the behaviors he doesn't have.
I tried to keep in mind he's a neurotic pound dog, and a lot of his behaviors have been man-made.

Brockle doesn't herd at all.
He will block and guard a line, but he doesn't drive or herd.
Brockle has a very, very high prey drive, but he doesn't bite.
He will, however, bite and try to seriously harm anybody who crosses his perceived boundary toward me in a way he finds threatening.
He stands outside every night and does his "night bark." It's a loud, evenly spaced bark. I'm not sure, but it feels like a warning to the predators that frequent the park behind our house. It lasts 10 to 15 minutes.
If the coyotes, bear or whatever are at our back fence, he goes nuts, chewing at the fence until his mouth bleeds.
He doesn't try to chase deer, horses, cattle etc. He leaves rabbits in hutches, yard fowl and goats alone. He can be triggered by cats and wild turkeys, but again, he has no interest in biting them.
He doesn't cower or slink. If he's confused he stands tall and seeks eye contact.
He has OCD. There's a list of behaviors and they're kept under control by keeping his his brain active and him exercised. We're also working on relaxation techniques that are helping a lot.

Another thought. The dogs who came together to create Brockle, no matter what their breed, were more than likely not high quality dogs. The dog called Blue Heeler on a five acre ranchette looks nothing like an AKC Australian Cattle Dog. I have heard (don't know for a fact) that AKC Border Collies don't have the instincts of a working BC.

Brockle's guarding behavior and night barking are very similar to the Guardian Breeds. Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherds are fairly common around here.

Most dogs who chase critters will kill them if they catch them. Brockle doesn't even bite. He will gleefully roll a dog in the dog park (why we don't do dog parks) but he's never hurt one. Saluki's chase and hold prey, but don't kill it. Catch dogs (mainly bully breeds) do too, but they physically hold the animal. Brockle is a circle and bark kind of guy. I thought some of you lurcher folks could give me some insight on this.

His boldness doesn't come from being fearless. It's like he has to respond. Some Malinois lines carry a gene that stops them from backing or running off. The more dangerous the situation, the more fearful the dog becomes, the harder he holds his ground and the fiercer he becomes.

Good Collies, BC's, Shelties, Australian Shepherds and Heelers will ignore the farm animals and focus on their job alone.

Doberman Pinchers, Shelties, Bull Terriers and German Shepherds carry a gene that causes OCD behavirs.

He's obedient, protective and always at my side.

He's the smartest dog I've ever known.

My vet said, "Don't discount the BC, those brains came from somewhere."


I started with Australian Cattle Dog, simply because I think every mutt in the southwest has some heeler in there. Then, although my trainers disagree, I think he has some German Shepherd in there. Then, I think we have a strong Great Pyrenees influence and the speed and light frame could come from a whippet, Border Collie or Rough Collie. Or any of the Belgian Shepherds. Or...

Last chance to change your votes...


  1. Brockle's face look almost identical to my dog's sire's face, just replace the brown with black (same speckled nose and stripe). Border collie's have small ears though. Both my dog and father are 24-25" at the shoulder and weigh 55-60lb. They are bigger but strictly working bred. Both are extremely intense dogs from obedience, agility, herding, guarding or even hunting.

  2. Ok, I'll throw some Anatolian on top of my guess, for the guarding behavior (which could come from the GSD also, but most of them don't seem to have such a clearly defined boundary.) GSD, BC, ACD, Anatolian.

  3. I'm still going with some Pyr or Anatolian. The barking exactly describes our Pyrs, and the not biting is the same as well. Our young Pyr will chase, but simply does not bite. We can't get him to fetch because while he chases the toy and pounces on it, he won't bite it to pick it up and bring it back. He also will only gently mouth any toys in the house - never tries to rip or tear them.

    Excited to hear what Brockle really is!

  4. I'm with jenj on him have a lot of Pyrenean mountain dog in him. He sounds a lot like the local patou dogs here, who are derived from Pyrenean mountain dogs and who spend their lives living with and guarding the flocks.
    The protectiveness you describe, the lack of cowering and the standing tall and making eye-contact - those are behaviours exhibited by the patous.
    I'll be interested to read about his results.

  5. Interesting!
    Alright, I'm amending my guess. I'm going with collie x tervuren x heeler (ACD) x Anatolian.

    These genetic tests are interesting. A friend just did one on her rescue and it came out 25% boxer, 25%lab and then a nonsensical conglomeration that made up the other half. She definitely looks like a boxer lab to my eye.


  6. Collie, Anatolian/Pyrenees, Jack Russell

  7. Australian shepherd (or Border Collie, close enough to the same thing for me), German Shepherd, and Bloodhound. I'm probably not even close.

  8. Those tests are bogus. Sorry, but they are. ;) There is no genetic test that can definitively tell you what breeds are in a dog.

  9. Redbranch - don't rain on my parade. Ever. Thank you.

  10. I say Collie,Shepard and Lab. Maybe some Heeler but thats it. Hes a pound puppy and those are pretty common breeds. Keepin it simple :-)


  11. Anon- By your logic and a quick scan of the current Colorado pound dogs -- Brockle will turn out to be Pit bull, Chihuahua, Heeler and a very distant Lab.

  12. About as logical as Lara's JRT! But going by the dog in your post, it's a distinct

  13. Still sticking with my GSD Borzoi guess, but would laugh myself silly if an English Setter line showed up.....Anonymous owned by a GSD

  14. It's got me laughing...stinking Redbranch's scoffing started me researching again -- if I write another WTH is Brockle guys can thank her.


    This dog tested out as (in descending order, forget the percentages)
    Belgian Shepherd

    He is high-drive, athletic, highly intelligent, highly trainable with a strong inclination to obedience. He is positively gleeful in his response to obedience commands. He is also very vigilant and territorial towards strangers (in a household where the other two dogs wouldn't even get off the couch for a stranger, and almost never barked). On the rare occasions I am taken by surprise and he is loose when a stranger arrives, he gets six inches from them, hackled up and barking with eye contact, and may bump or snap - he's trying to make them back up and leave. Once someone has been introduced and is on his "approved" list, he won't bother to bark at them or their vehicle. The more alarming he finds a person, the more aggressive he acts, and it never seems to occur to him to retreat. On one hand I've never connected with and loved another dog as much as this one, and on the other hand I feel like I'm living with a loaded weapon.

    He also watches TV intently, and reacts to all other animals including cartoons, suspense music, and chase or fight scenes between human actors.

    We used the blood test rather than the cheek swab because it seemed harder to accidentally contaminate.

    Redbranch is right that the tests are more a novelty than anything reliable. From the ones I've seen, the higher percentages are likely to be accurate, but the lower percentages seem to be a crapshoot, and rarely appear likely.

    I'm very interested in reading your source about the "don't back down gene" - was a specific locus and pattern of expression (dominant/recessive etc) given?

  16. Anon - Your test made perfect sense.
    Which refutes the crapshoot theory.
    Let me loo bac for the won't back down gene...

  17. As far as I understand. . . The reason the tests are only so accurate has to do with our understanding and characterization of gene sequences . . . We have analyzed a lot but still have no way come close to "decoding" the dog.

    Many "purebred" sequences are from breeds that are less than 300 years old - for instance, we have analyzed the sequences that cause the "doberman mask" - brown spots above the eyes. We can identify that gene whether it is expressed (visually present) or not, and we have attributed it to a number of breeds - dachshund, min pin, rat terrier, jack russel, rottweiler, etc. . . However, if we want to get super specific, we have to acknowledge that the common ancestor who gave those breeds that gene also has living descendants who were never purebred - the gene was present in the local mutt dog population, and their descendants are still around today. . .

    By being super picky and analytical, we can only try to use gene sequences that are very specific to the breed, but we have to acknowledge some rate of failure - that gene sequence is likely going to exist in some dogs with no purebred history.

    When the test offers you "garbage", i.e. a whole lot of very small breed percentages, you have to accept that you are likely dealing with a dog who has no purebred ancestors for generations.

  18. Pony Fan - yes. Also I learned the more inbred the breed is, the easier it is to identify. Rat terriers are hard because so many breeds have been crossed into them.

  19. As I said, the main breeds often seem sensible, but the smaller percentages in the mix often seem pretty unlikely ie Dachshund on my 70 lb dog.

    I mean this with no snark - you seem to be taking challenges to the validity of the test as a personal attack.

  20. One thing I was interested in was my friend who tested her dog who she suspected was a coydog.

    Later research revealed that the test cannot predict for coyotes or wolves - there are no gene sequences in the test databases for these species.

    The test can't even identify if there is an "unknown" parent - because the test can't assume that they have every gene sequence for example, a golden retriever on file.

    So both she and I still suspect she owns a coydog, but she was able to placate some dubious and unhappy neighbours with a piece of paper that swears her dog is a husky/german shepard/golden retriever mix.

  21. What part bothered you anon? Where I thought your dog looked like the test results or when I offered to find more info?
    This is just for fun, and my own education...which I'm sharing. I already went through why I'm doing it (got the test for Christmas), my own doubts, got sucked into a crazy amount of research, and again, am having some fun. I will enjoy it as much if his results are Toy Russian Spaniel, Bouvier and Rez dog as I will if some of my guesses are correct. The comments have been fun and silly,with some interesting stuff about genetics thrown in. Blank statements about "these tests are bogus" are at the very least pointless and at the most combative. I get irritated, but that's what you wanted, wasn't it? Ending sentences with ;) does nothing but irritate me more.

  22. I agree the rest of his test seems accurate, I just don't think the tests should be taken as gospel because they are quite fallible.

    I really don't mean the level of offence you are taking from my posts.

  23. PonyFan - I wonder if they can test, but don't...because of the problems it would cause.
    I read there is a lot of study going on about hereditary breed behavior, but the focus is away from aggression because of the huge pit debates.

  24. Gsd, border collie, aussie shepherd.

  25. It sure seems like testing for a separate species should be simpler than narrowing down breeds, since there would be significant differences in DNA and no common ancestors for a very long time. Would be interesting to see if my Lab/Pit/GSD/Wolf really is that (I never saw the mom who was the supposed hybrid.) Puppies were free so it's not like they had much to gain from lying.

  26. I'd have to go back and look up my perevious guess on the last Brockle post, but that's the guess I'm standing by.

  27. I think that they can test but don't partially because of the issues, and probably because it's just not financially viable yet. . .

    There are people right now who are working on sequencing wolves and coyotes, actually there's a lot of really interesting stuff going on in that area right now, with some studies revealing that some wolf populations have some dog heritage, and that the famous "red wolf" is actually a wolf/coyote hybrid. People are the ones who insist species lines should not be crossed, nature likes to mix it up, it seems.

    Genetic testing leads to such a hodge-podge of interests and funding. For instance, I am fascinated by the amount of people who run a colour test on their horses. Not a lethal white test, but a colour breakdown so that they can advertise their "champagne" stallion, or calculate their chances of a "smoky grulla". Did you know that they have identified a gene that is related to allergen level in cats - specifically the allergen level in their saliva, which is one of the most common allergic responses. Surprisingly, this test isn't as popular.

  28. I find genetics fascinating.. and granted, I have a very localized population to study. I live near Atlanta and our dog population is very pit bull heavy. So, to me, it is no surprise when pit mixes are all over the place. What I do find odd is the large number of SharPei crosses that seem to show up on DNA tests or just in the general descriptions from adoption places.. are there that many unaltered SharPei out there running around breeding in the streets?

  29. Francis - I wonder if perhaps a large scale puppy mill or breeder was improving the "bulldog look" of thier pit bull puppies with a little Shar Pei blood.

    Or perhaps this is a case where breeders used the Shar Pei in the creation of the modern pit bull - the older "bone mouth" Shar Peis, for example, look quite different than the modern version - very bull dogish.

  30. We have a lot of sharpei mixes around here in Colorado, but not many purebreds. We also have a growing number of purebred bull terriers.
    I thought it was because of the Pit breed ban in Denver.
    Now I'm wondering, maybe sharpei adds grit to a fighting dog, which leads me on to my next thought, is the fight being bred out of pits?

  31. PonyFan, good point, never thought of the Shar Pei as a breed used to"improve" another.. as in done on purpose! In my mind it was an expensive breed that people would want to keep pure. But I am so far behind the designer dog curve!

    Mugs, we are seeing more Bull Terriers showing up as well.. figured that was just a random popularity surge.

    As far as the fight being bred out of pits.. I think there is a division.. on one hand you see the sweet pits proclaimed as babysitters.. next ad is for a pit who is advertised as "protection".. honestly I still think that division is more about how they are raised. But given a few more years and very selective breeding I can see the "fight" being bred out of them, but around here at least, I do not see that as being the main focus.. yet.

  32. Mugs, I've done a fair bit of study in genetics in my time at university and working. The thing with trying to do a breed ID on a dog is that they are all the same species Canis lupus familiaris and all have common ancestors (so conserved DNA) really recently. The markers to differentiate the different breeds are not well recognised, and there is a fair bit of discussion as to if some of the "markers" really are unique to a specific breed. It's a bit of a crap shoot if you'll get good info or not, and if your dog is a real mix for multiple generations you are unlikely to get a sensible result.
    Hopefully it will have something useful, so good luck. I'm not familiar with the Pyr or anatolian as you very rarely get them here - to me he looks a bit like a lurcher that is borzoi based (from teh colour) although the coat isn't wavy (yes, I know a borzio, hence why I think he looks a bit like one).

    As for different mixed breed dogs getting assigned various breeds to get around menacing dog laws, here everything red seems to be called a Rhodesian Ridgeback cross! It's going to give ridgebacks a bad name soon!

  33. Anon - I hear you. I'm not worried about the results, other than seeing what comes up. This is a game.
    I have learned and am still learning tons about genetics, inherited traits, behaviors, in-breeding, recessive's endless, because I got a DNA test for Christmas.
    This test is valuable to me because of where it is taking me. I have more to share after we get the results.

  34. How about I try this approach.
    Well I'll be damned, you naysayers were right all along. This test is a crock of shit and has no value what so ever.
    There.Feel better?
    Now will you go away and let those of us who are trying to have some fun and maybe learn something new along the way the hell alone?

  35. I'm going to guess that he's a GS x Pyr x Borzoi.
    This is all in good fun. Of course these tests aren't foolproof. But who cares? This is for fun and maybe some extra understanding if we get lucky.
    We got our dog tested (cheek swab) after several years of speculation. He looked like a lab x pit. Turns out he was mostly rottweiler x chow with a bit of Golden Retriever. It ended up making sense (and if you googled that mix it was him!). The smaller % seemed doubtful but who knows? genetics can be funny. There are animals I know that I never would have believed the breed had I not known the parents.

  36. Anon - Yes! I like it. The Wisdom panel guys are pretty upfront...they admit there is a lot of room for error on the lower percentages.

  37. Re. not seeing the Shar Pei in the dog.... it's only a grandparent. Look at Kidlette. Do you see all four of her grandparents in her?

    Last guess: Anatolian, Aussie Shepherd, border collie, and red heeler (because some dogs were never meant to have the blues).

    Amy in Ohio

  38. Mugs I misunderstood what you were hoping to get out of the test - I understood that you received the test for Christmas (and that is a cool present too!). I think it is awesome that it has got you thinking about and researching genetics - it is a really interesting topic.
    My dog is a Rhodesian Ridgeback - which is a very recent breed and a real mix of contributors. He looks like a hound, however he has a brilliant "point" and it is really funny when he starts pointing at something. In NZ these tests have a big problem as there are a lot of nz farm dog crosses in the population - the dog breed is called "Huntaway" and they're a real mix, again having no definable markers - if you hear one, you usually know it though - they have a big bark!

  39. Nature and nurture both play a role in the aggression level of just about any dog.

    There are plenty of pits that don't have any fight in them. Eh, I should qualify that a bit - no more fight than the average dog. With very few exceptions, every dog has some amount of fight in it, it's just a question of what will bring it out.

    When you see a pit that's just plain aggressive, odds are it came from a breeder that wanted aggressive dogs.

  40. There's some validity to the 'test are bogus' comment. I've heard reports of people who sent off for tests from two companies, and got back results that were almost totally different. My guess is that unless you've got a wildly mixed-breed mutt without a single purebred, or even dual-breed dog within the last five generations, the results will be close enough to answer at least some questions about health, behavior, etc.

    As long as you're not hanging anything important on the result, what does it matter if it's not 100% correct?

  41. Suddenly I am reminded of a dog from my childhood. Imagine Brockle solid red with black and he would be that dog. The owner knew the parents, and it was a German Shepherd/Collie cross. So since both those breeds aren't the same as they were back in the 60's, I am going to say Anatolian Shepherd and either Collie or Australian Shepherd.

  42. Border Collie, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever......

  43. Malinois, Pyrenees and heeler.
    He's a cute, complicated dude no matter what.