No, You Probably Can't Guess That Dog's Breed — and a New Study Explains Why It Matters

What's the Next Step?

So now that we know that visual breed identification is unreliable at best, what can we do about it? That's tricky.

"We’re frustrated by our inability to come up with a better idea. Based upon our confirmation of the inaccuracy of identifying breeds in a national sample of dog experts, we can now clearly say that guessing breeds is not reliable, but we haven’t come up with an alternative," Levy says. "It would be nice for the next step to be leaders with an interest in this area convening some kind of summit to put together protocols or suggestions for a better way to identify dogs."

In the meantime, some shelters are taking measures to try to identify dogs by methods other than breed identification. "They're describing things everyone would agree on, like calling it a black dog or a male dog," Levy says, admitting that even that has the possiblity for error, particularly with more complicated colors.

Still, it's a start. Will this change the way you describe mixed-breed dogs, or the way you view Pit Bull–type dogs?

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