dog DNA breed tests--good enough for insurance co.?

Fori is not pleasedOctober 29, 2013


I'm shopping for a new homeowner's insurance policy and many refuse to quote me because I have a mutt of alleged pitbull heritage. I don't absolutely KNOW he's got APBT, but I was told he did when I adopted him.

I rescued my dog from a shelter where he had been dropped off with his littermates. The owners claimed they owned his parents and knew what breeds/mixes they were but how knowledgeable about dogs is someone who ends up with an extra litter of puppies when they own both parents?

So I'm being honest and answering insurance people based on 3rd hand information from people that I think are idiots.

Would it be ethical for me to base my breed assessment based on one of these DNA breed tests? (Assuming that my doggy came back with no "bad" breeds, of course!)


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If your dog doesn't look like a pit bull, why would you even mention to the insurance company that your dog 'may' have pit in his bloodline?
When it came to answering their questions, just say the dog is a mixed breed of unknown lineage.

I would do a DNA only if he looks similar to a pit and you want to prove otherwise.
Post a photo and let us see what he looks like.........

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 1:12PM
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Fori is not pleased

You're right of course, but I was informed of his pedigree when I got him. Sometimes people think he's a boxer mix and sometimes he's accused of being a lab blend (because he's yellow?). I just realized that I have no pictures of my dog looking normal. Apparently I only take pictures when he's doing something different! This guy is 80 lbs (and should be about 75).


Alert: Demonstrating chestiness: Balled up:

I don't seem to have any photos of him panting--his head does look big when he smiles to pant.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 2:19PM
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Cute guy! If I looked hard enough I 'might' say he had pit, but I could also say he may be Rhodesian Ridgeback, Boxer or Lab.
I would find it very difficult to quote what a shelter told me in regards to the breed of my dog since I've seen so many breeds misidentified by the workers at shelters. Even though they told you he is a certain breed, based only what the owners told them, I still wouldn't give any of it much credit.

When I last talked to my insurance agent they said only certain pure-breeds would affect the coverage.....mainly Pits and Rotts. Maybe the insurance companies are now seeing too many owners claiming their purebreds are mixed?

If he were mine I'd still say unknown mix..................

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 6:48PM
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I would have it done. I have YET to find a shelter who has correctly identified any of the dogs I have adopted. They like to feed in fancy breeds, hoping it will help the dog get placed more easily. You might be between a rock and a hard place if you claim it's an 'unknown' mix if you have been told before the fact it's a pit mix. The insurance company might try to use a failure to disclose to get out of paying, even if the shelter just guessed at it. I don't know how much credence insurance companies or courts would put on a dog dna test at this point, but they aren't expensive and you appeared to have made some legitimate effort at breed identification if it comes back negative. If it comes back positive you at least know. I doubt they can be used forensically at this point, should you have aggression issues with this animal.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dog owners use DNA tests

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 8:55PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks for the discussion. It would be nice if I could carry dog insurance separately from house! I guess I didn't really think "passing" a DNA test would satisfy the insurers--it would just give me the moral cover to say "don't know" when asked.

The shelter seems pretty together--extremely swanky, well-funded Humane Society place--and they did make the point that they "usually can't say" what's in their mutts. Even so, their information is based on some yokel with a bunch of unwanted puppies. I should call them and see if they still have detailed records on my dog. :) They were led to believe he's half GSD, 1/4 chow chow (probably also a no-no with insurance companies that are being breed specific), and 1/4 pit. I'm not sure I can see the chow in there.

I think it's unlikely we'll have a dog-related claim on insurance, but I don't want to give an insurance company any wiggle room for other claims (not that I've ever made an insurance claim on anything ever).

Looks like if a doggy DNA test doesn't give you the results you want, you can just try it again with another company. Although it's not like my results could be worse than what I already have from an insurance point of view! Too bad. He's never even growled at a person in his 3 years and is remarkably gentle if you disregard his large clumsy feet.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 9:32PM
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He doesn't look enough like a pitbull to even mention that he could be. I would say that he's a mutt and give the size and leave it at that. If I were to guess then I'd say boxer/lab mix. He looks a lot like my past dog and I never once thought pit mix on him. He's adorable BTW! There is no reason to have to say that he's a pit mix at all! Don't even mention it. They would have to do the proving that he is a pit mix!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 8:09AM
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I don't think he looks pit. I would describe him as a lab mix. After that I'd say he has some boxer. He is a cutie for sure.

I've done the DNA tests on my dogs and the results can be surprising. In your circumstance where the shelter told you one thing but really it isn't showing up in the way he looks I would get the DNA test in order to see what is really there. Unless he tests >= 50% pit I wouldn't describe him as a pit mix. I don't see how an insurance company could argue with a DNA test. With more than two breeds I'd describe him as just a mix. If he was just two things then he could be a lab/boxer mix or whatever he tests out to be.

I wanted to add that many people have no idea what breed dogs they have. If you look on Craig's list people list dogs as purebred x when the dog doesn't look anything like x but is in fact a mix or breed y. You have valid cause to not believe anything you were told and I'd say even with out DNA testing you would be completely justified in just saying he was a heinz 57 mix. I don't think anyone looking at his photo as an adult would say he was a pit mix.

This post was edited by mic111 on Wed, Nov 6, 13 at 22:13

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 10:06PM
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He reminds me of some gentle Mastiff mixes I have known. Calling him a Lab/Boxer mix would be fine, that is what he most resembles. Or maybe Lab/shepherd mix. A lot of shepherd breeds have that dark muzzle and by choosing the "group" of shepherd, you are not claiming him to be any particular one.

He does not have that Bully face in the photos. He looks like a beautiful boy with an expressive face.

Unless the insurance company wants you to get one, I would not even mention the option of DNA testing on your boy.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 2:42PM
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So, even if they are complete idiots and totally wrong, you have been forewarned and informed by the adoption agency via the owners that this dog is a pit mix. They provided disclosure, perhaps because if they tried to hide it they could be held liable if the dog turned out to be a prolem. You may as well not have insurance if this isn't either disproved or admitted when you apply for a policy , because not to disclose it is .....'failure to disclose' and my guess if any company who has a policy discriminatory on pit mixes would insure you, they'd disqualify a claim or perhaps drop your insurance if they found out you withheld that information. They will not take your word for it based on your decision you don't 'think' he looks like a pit mix any more than you accept the agency or owners words on it based on your opinion he doesn't look like a pit mix. There is one way to find out.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 5:16PM
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Fori is not pleased

Gee Calliope, you seem almost angry. About this?

I'm not trying to pull one over on any insurer and I'm not interested in being deceptive. The shelter was not "forewarning" or "disclosing" that my dog might be APBT. It's not an issue where I live and neither shelters nor local governments give a rat's patootie. I do already have homeowner's insurance and plenty of companies don't care what sort of mutt I have. I was just shopping around.

Just wondering if the breed tests have any value yet. If they were GOOD, I would not have an ethical problem using the results for answering "what-is-your-dog" questions. They aren't so I won't. Seems like they need a little work and I would just be substituting sketchy information for other sketchy information. :)

Thanks guys. Appreciate the comments. So true about people not knowing what their dog is. Most mutts around here are either chihuahua or pit mixes though. My guy does look a little like an ankle biter, right? :P

    Bookmark   November 8, 2013 at 10:46AM
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spedigrees z4VT

Calliope's advice about the legal ramifications of disclosure is very sound. If insurance companies in your area do not have clauses exempting pit bulls and pb mixes from coverage, then it is not an issue right now. However, an increasing number of insurance companies are adding such exemptions to their home owner policies. Also, in answer to your query, most insurance companies and courts will not accept dna breed identification as proof.

Forewarned is forearmed. If you disclose that your dog was represented to you as being part pitbull by the adoption group (who probably did so to avoid liability), and your insurance contains such an exemption clause, and your dog bites someone (even a playful nip) and you are sued as a result, you could be in a world of financial hurt. If you do not disclose this, and you are found out, you might be in worse trouble. Calliope was simply providing you with hard legal and economic facts.

Your dog doesn't look much like a pit bull to me. If you had called him a lab/boxer mix or a mutt of unknown heritage from the start, and told everyone that you got him from an ad on Craig's list, you would have a far better chance of erasing the alleged ancestry told you second hand by the rescue people. Unfortunately however you have told people, perhaps insurance agents among them, and posted this information here on the internet.

It might seem like "nothing" but if you were facing a lawsuit asking for a 10,000 dollar damage payment, insurance companies will leave no stone unturned to discover whether your dog is an exempted breed to avoid paying. Such a lawsuit could result in your dog being declared dangerous and ordered to be put down. This might seem an extreme circumstance but sadly these type of lawsuits are becoming increasingly common.

I would qualify Calliope's statement that if you cannot prove or disprove your dog's ancestry, that you might as well not have insurance at all, would only apply to liability incurred by your dog's actions. Homeowner's insurance is still a necessity for all other eventualities, including non-dog-related liability claims such as a visitor slipping and falling on your steps. I'm sure that's what Calliope meant, in any case.

This post was edited by spedigrees on Fri, Nov 8, 13 at 18:21

    Bookmark   November 8, 2013 at 1:32PM
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Thank you for seeing where I was headed with this, speedigrees. Fori...........I will be upfront and honest with people, and if I think it's important, I won't say something to make them feel better, not when it could hurt them. Being deceptive is the very last word I'd use for you, Fori. If anything, you appear to have been extraordinarily up-front and honest with the agents. It's unfortunate that either the shelter or the former owners would hang this label (in some places a death sentence) on an apparently lovely dog lightly, but since it was passed on to you, it would indeed become an issue and you would look dishonest, even if that were not your intention if an insurance company challenged you, especially YOUR OWN insurance company. That disclosure, whether correct or not, may as well be the truth, unless you can prove without a doubt it is false.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2013 at 6:26PM
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I think the DNA tests are reliable. We got the Wisdom panel for our two dogs. The first was one we adopted off pet finder when she was a year and a half. The previous owners said they got her as a puppy and she was half Husky, half Spaniel. I was thinking Cocker Spaniel and just couldn't see it. We had her DNA tested and she came up half Siberian Husky and half Brittany Spaniel. That gave me good confidence in the test and the information given to me by the previous owners.

Our other dog started out as our foster dog. Cute as a button with short legs, a heavy coat and Shepard coloring. I was thinking Sheltie, Corgi, Chow and the rescue organization thought there was some Heeler in there. He came out with two minor breeds, 12-22% each of Dachshund and Chow. That explained the short legs, thick body and heavy coat. But they reported the rest of him was too mixed to show up which meant everything else was less than 12%. That sounds about right for him. He was from a hoarder situation and I saw 3 of the other hoarded dogs. All were probably related. Some were tiny, some more skinny, and some lighter coats or more feathery coats. All small to med. small. He looks like a perennial puppy because he is a little rolly polly, long bodied and short legged but no one would think Dachshund until knowing the DNA test as he looks more corgi. After getting the test I can definitely see the Chow and Dachshund elements of his personality.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wisdom panel

    Bookmark   November 8, 2013 at 6:39PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Mars Wisdom Panel accurately (I believe) pegged my little rescue dog as a poodle/Chihuahua cross, although he looks for all the world like a mix of small spaniel and small herding dog. Wisdom Panel is the only testing laboratory with a database of over 200 breed dna profiles in their database, so it remains the most credible of these services.

However the question is whether or not courts and insurance companies will accept these test results. It seems the answer to this question is ambiguous at best.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2013 at 8:05PM
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Why don't the insurance companies wise up and just exempt themselves from dog bite claims and be done with it? The whole Pitbull and other "vicious" animal laws absolutely makes me just furious anyway. It is the most ignorant bunch of nonsense ever! Any dog can can bite and if they want to be realistic about dog bites then they should just outlaw all dogs bigger than a Chihuahua! That's how stupid the whole thing is. Before idiots and our world went to hell, people thought of pitbulls as wonderful family pets. But then you got a bunch of sickOs fighting this breed so now idiots think that a pitbull is mean and vicious. They are no more vicious than any other dog. They are large and powerful dogs which make then easy victims/targets of sickOs that want to fight a dog to make money. It is beyond sad when you witness thousands of innocent and lovable pitbulls and mixes that cannot be adopted because they have been unjustly labeled because of human ignorance, being put to sleep every day. These dogs are just as precious as a beloved cocker spaniel or poodle but because they have a certain look on their faces, they are automatically labeled as "BAD". I don't know when humans got to be so stupid along to way but it's really getting to me seeing such ignorance in this world! And seeing innocent dogs killed every day because we are so dumb!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 8:06AM
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