How to Find Out What Type of Puppy I Have

Congratulations, you found a puppy that is perfect for you! Whether you found the perfect dog through a newspaper ad or adopted a dog from a shelter, you may want to know what breeds your new companion is. Sometimes there are physical clues, such as body type and head shape. But for some mixed-breed dogs, it can be hard to tell what type of dog he is.

Woman playing with puppies
How to Find Out What Type of Puppy I Have
credit: Slavica/E+/GettyImages

While there is no guarantee that you will discover precisely what breeds are in your mixed-breed dog, there are some ways you can make an informed guess. First, ask whoever you are getting the dog from if they know any information about both or either of the dog's parents. Even if the dog came from a shelter, the person surrendering the dog is usually required to provide as much information as possible about the dog. The shelter may also have some experts on hand that can help you figure it out.

Physical characteristics

Take a close account of the physical characteristics of your dog, which can be a valuable dog breed identifier. Things like hair type (short, long, curly, stiff), face shape (long, square, pushed-in nose), ear shape (pointy, droopy, long), and body size can all be used to evaluate what kind of puppy you have.

Knowing what breeds make up your puppy is helpful to predict future behavior. For instance, a retriever will love to play fetch with you while a terrier may love to dig and could be an escape artist if she figures out how to dig under your fence! It could also prepare you for any future health issues your best friend could face as she ages.

Use a dog breed identifier

A dog breed identifier such as an online dog breed identification chart can be valuable in helping you determine what type of dog you have. The website Dog Breed Info has photos online that are available through a filtered search. You first narrow down your dog breed by size, and the dog breed identifier will show you photos that match the characteristics you choose.

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine conducted a survey of more than 5,000 dog experts, including breeders, trainers, groomers, veterinarians, shelter staff, rescuers, and others. These participants provided DNA results along with photos of dogs in the study. The photos and breed breakdowns provide a way to compare physical appearance with their actual DNA breed results.

AKC's dog breed selector

After you have taken a close look at the physical characteristics of your dog, take a look at the website of the American Kennel Club. The AKC website has a wealth of information, including photos and dog breed information, for the breeds they register. While the AKC registers only purebred dogs, the characteristics listed for each breed can help you decipher which breeds may be in your puppy.

If you're researching the types of puppies that are available and you haven't found one yet, consider using an online resource, such as the AKC site, as a dog breed selector. You can investigate the characteristics you desire, then narrow down the type of dog that interests you.

Ask your veterinarian

Naturally, veterinarians see a lot of dogs. They know about breeds that you may not even have heard of, and they may be able to physically examine your dog and tell you what breeds likely make up your dog.

Use an app

Microsoft developed a dog identification app called Fetch! that is available for iPhones. While reviews of the app are mixed, it could be a fun way to investigate your dog's family tree. In case the app can't make an exact match, it will show you a percentage of the closest match. The app developers say it even works for people!

To use this facial-recognition software, take a photo of your dog that shows her face and body in clear light. Share the photo with the app, and it returns its best evaluation on the breed. If you try to "trick" it, it may even say something funny back to you. If it doesn't know what type of dog you have, perhaps it will be able to tell you at least if your new best friend is a golden retriever or a poodle!

Dog DNA test

Sometimes, there's a lot of guesswork that goes into trying to figure out what breeds are in a dog's make-up and in what percentage. One way to eliminate some of that guesswork is to get your dog DNA-tested. The technology has advanced to the point that you can order DNA test kits for use at home, just like you would test your DNA.

Canine Journal compared some dog DNA test kits and came back with a list of the ones they recommend. They say it's as simple as taking a cheek swab from your dog, placing the swab in the provided container, and mailing it back in a prepaid envelope. You'll receive your report on your dog's DNA results in just a few weeks. Depending on which company you choose, the results may show you the percentage breakdown of your dog's breeds and risks for developing some hereditary diseases.