Scientists Want Your Help Choosing Dog Breeds By Looks Alone
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts are working with the Broad Institute and have devised an online quiz that looks to see if people can tell what breed a dog is just by looking at it. Researchers and dog behaviorists think it’s important to know whether the average person can make those judgments, because they believe that people’s treatment of dogs is based on their expectations of the dog–and this is often based on what a person thinks the dog’s bloodline is.
Related: Top 10 Unfairly Banned Dog Breeds
The online quiz is called Mutt Mix, and the researchers are looking for people to log on and let your breed-guessing abilities soar. There are 31 dogs you’ll be asked to look at, and you’re given three practice dogs to assess before you begin the survey.
I took it, and patted myself on the back with the first practice question. Pretty easy.
But the second one, I only guessed half right–the Siberian Husky part.
And in the third, a pure mutt, I only guessed the German Shepherd part. Womp Womp.
Marjorie Alonso is the executive director of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, which is a partner of the project. She says that they expect people to be wrong, as they have been, and that actually proves their point in that you can’t judge a dog by its looks.
Mutt Mix is part of a more extensive dog genetics study that is called Darwin’s Dogs. Researchers are collecting saliva from thousands of dogs across the U.S., along with questionnaires about the dogs completed by their owners. They are focused on mental disorders as well as behaviors like retrieving, and also take a look at quirks in dogs that may be genetic.
The end goal is to help owners deal better with their challenging pets, while also help look at what genes may make it easier to pick out dogs who will be successful working/service dogs. But through this, the researchers realized that dogs are also reactive, and their behaviors can be based on a human’s first interaction. When people look at dogs, they have expectations of how they believe the dog may act based on what they think the breed is, and this can, in turn, affect the dog’s behavior.
So they want to know just how many people get it right, and how that information may change the way we approach all dogs in general.
When you finish the quiz, you’ll have to wait 60 days to find out the answers, as they are conducting scientific research based on the responses, but it’s pretty cool and may even surprise you.
More by Lori Ennis