a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Are These Really Dogs?

Friday, December 06, 2019

Are These Really Dogs?

SUMMARY: DNA testing, I just finally gave in.

PART 1 of the Chip/Zorro DNA saga. Here's PART 2.



My title, "are these really dogs?": Why? It's cuz of the guy near Santa Cruz who asked me 4 years back what kind of animal Chip was, and when I said "dog," he said something like, "maybe, but I doubt it."  Guess I'll find out now if I was so very wrong! Maybe an alien?

I thought about DNA tests for Jake and Remington. And for Tika. Decided not to, because (a) it's expensive, (b) it doesn't affect anything at all, (c) accuracy is iffy--people I know in the genetics world have said that they are a *fun* thing to do for mixed breeds, but don't count on them being correct. (To test accuracy, I'd need a mix whose parentage I knew for certain...  Amber qualified there, but the world in general didn't know anything about DNA back then.)

So, why now? Why these dogs? Dunno. Wanted to. So I have sent away for the packets. At some time in the future, I'll have their results.  Now is the time to place your bets on their breeds! (No actual money bet, no actual money given.)

Here's what I know about them:

  • Chip: Original owner, who had him from 6 weeks, had no idea, but guessed part Whippet. (Also see my recent post about what he might be.)
  • Zorro: Listed by rescue as Border Collie mix. Not sure where that info came from, as he went from original absent owner to shelter to rescue. (Also see my post about cattle dogs...)
And now for some photos, plus lots of adjectives to try to describe their personalities.

Zorro the high energy, no-fear, smart, eager to participate, desperate for activity, sleep-sprawling, dinnertime jumping into the air and food inhaling, over-the-top-wild learning, big-toy loving, no-fear, car/trip loving, huge-eared, happy, big-tongued, binkie-nursing, obsessive and very successful 18" hunter who always wants to be in the middle of whatever is going on, has earned several tricks titles, and loves doing contacts and tunnels


Big ears. Rapt attention. Always hoping for more.

Fully alert, tail and ears up. Note the one leg that's a different color.

From the back so you can see the white making a triangle on the back of his head. Looking for squirrels.

Fully alert, hoping for squirrels; tail curls almost all the way over.

Loves his big toys. Eager to play and chase toys.

Sprawls in his sleep, usually upside down, sometimes with both front legs raised.

Chased a squirrel in there. Won't give up until I haul him away by his collar.

Loves loves LOVES to be in the car. Open door is an invitation.

Huge tongue for a not-that-big dog.

Those ears!  (Note Chip's in comparison)

Side view of his left side.

When I come home, this is what I see: Him waiting with his Jolly Ball. Sometimes he'll stand there for 5 or 10 minutes while I do whatever I need to do.

Face. And ears.

Often plops himself down with back legs behind him.

Loves nursing on his binkies. Quiet, calm--I think he uses it to help calm himself because he  he can be so wired.

No fear! Soft crate is not safe for standing on, but he doesn't care  if it wiggles around and nearly dumps him.


Chip the worrying, thunder/noise fearing, gentle, snuggle-loving, smart but thoughtful and methodical learning, cautious, hole-digging, crate-loving, dinnertime patiently sitting and calmly eating, small-toy loving, hose-spray enthusiastic, very fast but only under his own initiative, car/trip fearing, talkative, small-tongued, sweet 20" boy who waits to see what's going on before making an effort to join in, loves doing tunnels by himself, and stresses out too easily for me to want to take him to more classes of any kind but he has learned several tricks


Chip is sometimes terrified of getting into the car. Other times he hops right in. No idea what the deal is.

He can run very very fast when he feels like it. 

Face. Black on his forehead and muzzle. Has always had some white there, too.

Alert and happy, with tail up; something must be happening right now.
When not immediately stimulated, he usually stands more like this, tail relaxed.

Loves the tunnel game! Hide and seek full speed, then blasts out like a missile to find another tunnel.

Loves to snuggle next to me in bed; this sitting on my lap, however,  is because there are fireworks outside and he's quite unhappy about that.

When happy, often rolls around on the bed or floor, grabbing anything that's near just for the joy of grabbing.

Little tiny tongue. Compare to Zorro's earlier.

Fully alert and eager! I don't often see him like this--

He lounges better than anyone, in anything available.

Another alert shot--this is about as high and curled as his tail goes.

Man, does he love to dig. I should show you my moonscape back yard sometime.

Chip LOVES to grab at spraying water. (Zorro heads off for safety when the hose comes out; not a fan, and I've never sprayed him that I can recall, so I don't know where either of these got these traits.

Snuggle boi.

He's very vocal. Talks or woofs about many things all day long. When happy and rolling around on bed or floor, he makes many happy talking noises.

I see him like this a lot-- a bit worried about what's going on but still hoping that something good might be happening.

I took him to a class on massaging/etc. your dog. He loved checking out all the other dogs and he really enjoyed the parts where I was doing hands-on with him. But near the end, when the mini teeter hit the floor and the whole building resounded, he was terrified and done.  So I think indoor training isn't appropriate for him...

Loves little toys! This is one of his 2 favorites.

Feels safe in his crate. Often goes in to get away from Zorro or simply to relax while Human Mom is doing whatev's Human Moms do.

SOOOOO what's your guess?

11 comments:

  1. I have no ideas. But loved learning more about them both. Hope I get to meet them some day but that might be too scary for Chip.

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    1. Chip actually loves meeting people in just about any circumstance. So you'd be in luck if you ever happened to be in the area again with some free time.

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  2. Oooh, this will be fun!

    I agree with taking the results with a grain of salt. I never had Walter or Lucy tested, but took the plunge with my current two. I am 99.99% sure that Scooter is a chihuahua/pug ("chug" as he would be known in the designer dog circles). His test came back as predominantly pug, also with mini schnauzer, maltese, and bull terrier. Oh well, at least it got the pug part, so there is *some* potential for accuracy. Verrrry questionable results with my other dog, although one of the breeds they listed I do agree with.

    Am I entirely out to lunch if I see some corgi in Zorro? Specifically his beautiful big round ears, but also his colour -- sorry, color -- could be consistent with corgi? Obviously he got those legs from somewhere else though! I can see cattle dog. And border collie. Ok, corgi / cattle dog / border collie is my guess! And with a sprinkling of basenji for his tail. Oh -- and frog, as he has clearly mastered "frog dog" with that back leg flexibility.

    Chip... he sure is a tough one. I'm going to say.... german shepherd (sounds like he's got the worry thing down pat), lab, and I'll toss in a dose of husky, for good measure. I wouldn't have come up with whippet on my own, so I'll omit that from my official bet.

    Really looking forward to hearing the results!

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    1. Thanks for all the thoughts. I think frog is likely for Zorro, as he also has the leaping thing down pretty good. ;-) I'm glad to hear that the pug part proved accurate for Scooter; gives me some hope that it's possible to guess breeds!

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    2. And you are right on ACD, but no corgi, border collie, or basenji.

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    3. Sigh -- I guess I really was out to lunch then! Ah well! Keeping my fingers crossed that I have better luck with Chip...

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    4. I'm still not convinced about where Zorro's big ears come from. I admit to having looked at GSDs and corgis when I've been around them, thinking that the ears seem pretty similar.

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    5. Not sure whether this is publicly viewable, but--here is a dog (Puck) and siblings, all with more ACD than Zorro has, and look at all those huge ears! https://my.embarkvet.com/dog/puck2/gallery

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  3. Oh yes, lots of big ears in those linked photos, although I say Zorro still takes the cake! One thing about Zorro's ears that made me wonder about corgi is his rounded tips which I get the impression are less common than pointy tips, at least among prick-eared breeds. But I am definitely not an expert!

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    1. That sounds right to me. I also don't have lot of detailed experience in examining the minutiae of breed appearances. My research consists of: Chip and Tika's ears are/were pointy, and other than Zorro, those are the only erect-eared dogs I've had.

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