Monday, April 13, 2015

WTH is Brockle - The Finale

Say what? I didn't see that coming.

But, but, where did his crazy color come from? This can't be right. It doesn't fit any of my preconceived notions of what kind of dog he is. OK, I guess the GSD isn't all that surprising. It was where I was leaning until my GSD loving friends convinced me it couldn't be so. Turns out they just didn't want to claim him, go figure.

Here comes the fun part. It's that sneaky snake mixed breed Grandparent. The Wisdom guys are completely upfront about dogs this mixed. They can make an educated guess, but that's all.

So they sent me a list of maybes and admitted it's pretty much a crap shoot.

What I love about this is how carefully they state that one or more of these breeds MAY have contributed to the mix, but then again, maybe not. They definitely don't think all those breeds are in there, but probably, some of them are.

It would have been easy to be dismissive. Except for one tiny thing. In order for Brockle's color to make it past all those dark colored dogs, the mixed breed grandparent had to be homozygous (I think).  Each of the listed breeds (except for the Lapphund) potentially carries the double recessive genes needed to create a homozygous color pattern that could fight it's way down to my boy.

Since the Wisdom Panel folks didn't know about his color, I found their maybes extremely thought provoking.

I had to look up Keeshonds. I have seen them, known one, and that's about it. The one I knew looked like a giant Pomeranian and barked. A lot.

I have to admit, it explains the hair. They are a Spitz type, were called Dutch Barge Dogs, even though they are a German breed and are considered "Alarm" dogs, i.e. yappy barkers.
They are gentle, sensitive and intuitive. Tikva, a Keeshond therapy dog, and her handler, Cindy Ehlers, were honored at the 911 Remembrance Ceremony for the two weeks they spent giving comfort to rescue workers after 911.
They are slow to bite, high energy, intelligent and manipulative. They are velcro dogs and then some, and often suffer from extreme separation anxiety.

A little bit of Keeshond explains an awful lot of Brockle. I'm grateful he decided to leave the yappiness behind him.

I recently read an incredible book, Lend Me An Ear: Temperament, Selection and Training of the Hearing Dog, by Martha Hoffman.

She trains dogs for the hearing impaired. Instead of working with kennels breeding for the traits she looks for in a potential hearing dog, or even favoring certain breeds over the other, Hoffman looks for a certain type of dog. She finds many of her candidates at area shelters.

Hoffman noted that when she has a group of her hearing dogs together, even though they are different breeds and mixes, they still seem the same, because they are the same type.

She has done some intensive dog behavior studies, not according to breed, but to type. I found her analysis both fascinating and logical.

The GSD in Brockle makes complete sense. He guards boundaries, but doesn't herd. He is strong, athletic and thrives on both intellectual and physical exercise. He's loyal, versatile and a bad ass when needed. He has that weird humpy back.

The Keeshond explains why he will never set the Shutzhund world on fire. He doesn't bite for fun. He bites when he thinks I'm being threatened. He looks to me before deciding to go at someone and a simple,"Leave it," calms him.

It also sheds light on his playful dorkiness, another reason the GSD people hate to claim him. He doesn't have the dignity and fire of the protection dog set.

As to the mega-mix mutt that is anybody's guess, I'm leaning toward some Rough Collie, some Akita, and who knows.

It's all fun. I've learned a bunch, and I truly don't feel like I wasted my money.

As for the prize winner? I'm still sifting through your guesses...the Keeshond sure caught us all, didn't it?

OK. I quit moderating comments. If everybody behaves it will stay that way. Let's play nice boys and girls.


  1. I didn't see that coming. I guess you're back where you started. There's a lot of unknown.

  2. I don't remember seeing anyone guess Keeshond! Very cool.

    Dalmation? He does have funny spots...

  3. I'm a little surprised by how much GSD heritage he has - I'd have never thought he was 50%. And 25% Keeshound?

    I'm totally buying my sister a couple kits for her dogs. She has a couple "Big Black Dog" specials off the Reservation, and it would be pretty neat to have an idea what went into them.

  4. Genetics are fun!!! :-)

    Given how many things we can test for these days, I'm always kinda surprised that more people (and especially breeders) don't chuck up the cash to find out for sure if their animal carries certain genetic diseases or that they're really the color they think it is or.....

  5. Akita makes a lot of sense as a contributor. Some GSDs can be poorly bred, and do have that white gene in there. I wonder what a white gsd + a spotty mix would bring to the table. I know nothing about white gsd genetic markers.

  6. Just have to say, I loves me your Brockle!

  7. The white gene in a GSD doesn't come from poor breeding. It's a recessive e allele. The (E) gene is one of two genes that make up all GSD color variations. When an (E) gene is inherited from each parent, the e/e genotype makes the white shepherds. The (E) gene is what creates the white in Akitas too.
    The gene that brings on the white in shelties, aussies etc. is the (s).
    What all this means, I'm not sure. I do agree that the shepherds that joined forces to create Brockle were more than likely the BYB variety.

  8. I'm not surprised at all by all of the German Shepherd in there, especially given his OCD shoe-sorting habits. Keeshond seems sort of remote, but I suppose anything's possible. With his hair and coloring, the collie seems like a logical thing to have in there, too.

    The GSD might contribute to the coloring too, actually. They do come in white.

  9. I wouldn't have guessed keeshond, but it doesn't surprise me that there's some Spitz in the mix. I've had a couple spitz/herding dog crosses, and your description of Brockle's personality is a fairly close match.

  10. Have to disagree with Keeshonds being slow to bite. I knew two when I was a kid that were very grouchy and tended to snap.

  11. A recessive gene could have come from anywhere unless there were ancestors with a pair so they showed you couldn't tell, unless they got genetically colour tested, even if you knew them. Not surprised by the Gsd in him shame the other bits can't be narrowed down a bit more but still tells an interesting genetic story.

  12. In order for Brockle to be a recessive colour, he would have to be homozygous for it himself (have 2 copies of the recessive allele). He would have to get one copy from each parent.
    It doesn't matter if the "mixed breed" grandparent had one copy (heterozygous) or 2 copies (homozygous), that "side" of the equation can only give Brockle one copy.
    So there would have to be a dog on the GSD/Keeshond side that carries the recessive allele, too. If that allele is never seen in those breeds, then there is another cross in the mix on that side that the test didn't detect.

  13. Will you do tests from any of the other companies to compare results?

  14. Unless I am very mistaken, the breed with the highest possibility of being in the mix is the dalmation. There would be that dominant color gene perhaps as close up as one grandparent. Also, several foundation GSDs were brindle or grey. The Dutch continued to breed brindles even after several other countries decided that that was a less than desirable color and is still in the gene pool. Greys (not sable greys - a true grey) pop up every now and then still.

    Pwned by a GSD

  15. ETA just got curious enough to look at the specific alleles for dog colours. The vast majority of dogs with the amount of white Brockle has are homozygous recessive at the Spotted (MITF) locus. The GSD and/or Keeshond can explain the mask and sable pattern, but somebody needs to be carrying the spotted pattern on both sides of the family.

  16. Ha I belive I said GSD and Collie :-) Me thinks they have collie and dalmation switched...LOL

  17. LF said what I was thinking.

    Why not another test from another Lab?

    And why so vehemently against the idea?

    No judgement. Just curious.

  18. From what I understand, German Shepherds can carry the Spotted gene. It's been rigorously selected against for hundreds of years, (no respectable breeder would repeat a breeding that produced a spotted puppy) but it's recessive so it's almost impossible to completely eliminate.

    Plus the gene for white german shepherds completely masked the spotted gene - there's no way to tell if a white german shepherd has spots, unless you breed him/her to a dark german shepherd that you know has the recessive gene - one that has produced spotted pups.

    Even then given the percentages for inheritance of a recessive gene - each pup only has a 25% chance of having spots, you'd have to repeat the breeding several times to be sure.

    So it's likely the gene has been allowed to "flourish" in those breedings.

    I think it's possible that Brockle could have rec'd his colouring from both his GSD Grandparents. Unlikely, but possible. The test seems to indicate that he did get the spotted gene from one of them at least.

  19. The German Shepherd breed as we know it today is not an old one - only about 100 years. In the effort to lock in a uniform type Stephanitz used dogs of various colors until he got the working abilities and general physical appearance that he felt fit form to function. Another recessive gene that has been bred more for lately is coat length - there has been a recent jump in breeders of long coated German Shepherds(they look like Belgian Shepherds in my opinion .... or I supposed they could pass as a GSD/collie cross in looks}.

    Owned by a GSD

  20. Hey Mugs- What do you get when you cross a collie, a Dalmatian, and a American Stafford. Terrier with a keplie (instead of an Akita)? Even if kelpie is not in the mix, there's 3 of the 4 foundation breeds for Australian Cattle Dog in the 'mixed breed' wild card. Or, as my father in law used to say "Dad was a GSD and the mother was careless". Congrats on your Brockle, he's quite a dog. Amy in Ohio

  21. Amy in Ohio - WOW. That totally makes sense. He could be shepherd/keeshond and shepherd/heeler. It makes sooo much sense. The Wisdom guys said that breeds developed from many different breeds are really hard to read -- because their genetic markers show up as each breed rather than the result.