Does the breed really matter?

24 Jan

I assume I’m not the only one who is constantly asked, “What breed is your dog mixed with?”

I get this question at least once a day, but usually as a follow-up to: “What breed is your dog?” When I answer, “A pit bull mix,” that question immediately follows. And honestly, sometimes I wish I could ignore it. I love my dogs, no matter what their breed make-up is, so that question, and its answer, are completely inconsequential to me.

Regardless, I still answer, and I usually tell them something to this effect: “I don’t really know, she was found as a stray and I never spent the money to officially find out.” But part of me wonders why it really matters to them. For the most part, the inquisitor is a complete stranger, and we’ll most likely never see each other again. They like my dog well enough to pay attention to her, pet her, let her lick them – the whole works. So why can’t they just like my dog for the dog that she is and leave well enough alone?


On the other hand, I sometimes love when they ask me what breed she is, because she’s such a great ambassador for pit bull type dogs. It gives me the opportunity, everyday, to change someone’s perspective; it opens up a conversation that allows Lucy’s new friend to accept her despite her breed’s bad reputation.

So I ask you again, readers, does the breed really matter? Is the real fact of the matter that we have great dogs, or do we, as humans, always have to categorize in order to make sense of things?



24 Responses to “Does the breed really matter?”

  1. kate @ twenty-six to life January 24, 2012 at 12:55 PM #

    It doesn’t really matter to me either. I just think my dogs are great so who cares what breed they really are, haha.

  2. Amanda January 24, 2012 at 1:05 PM #

    I get this question with my pit, as well as my lab mix (obviously lab and rott) and my great dane. I don’t think anyone cares more than passing curiosity. If I said my pit was mixed with lab it wouldn’t change their opinion. They either love or hate my pit based on his personality and breed. I’ve had people kiss my pit, ask what breed he is and then back up 10 feet in fear when they hear pit bull.

    • That Touch of Pit ... January 24, 2012 at 2:29 PM #

      But Amanda, if the people asking back up in fear after hearing your dog is part pit, don’t you think that suggests that they DO care “more than passing curiosity”? Don’t you think it’s a shame that you have such a sweet dog, that will allow people to kiss it, and people refuse to see it for what it is once they have categorized it as “pit bull”?

  3. Eden January 24, 2012 at 1:18 PM #

    it doesn’t matter to me, and i do usually ask if i see the opportunity, but if the response is a breed i grew up with i get more excited than i was to begin with. i got my first mixed dog just over a year ago and so far i enjoy hearing others guess at her makeup. i did do the DNA test, but the results are such a mix, it’s easier not to identify her (pomeranian, schnauzer, st. bernard, german shephard, russian black terrier, dande terrier & pug = perfection, aka ‘limited edition’ 🙂

  4. Heartbeat-At-My-Feet January 24, 2012 at 1:31 PM #

    I wouldn’t say it “matters,” however I do take it as a compliment. For us, Oscar is such a unique looking dog, people are always curious about him. His brindle markings, bow legged haunches and floppy ears are quite cleary “pit,” and his black “saddle” and skinnier frame are dead giveaways that he’s mixed with something. I think for most people it’s simply curiosity, and I’m happy to talk about my Heinz 57 mystery mix!

  5. Corbin January 24, 2012 at 1:56 PM #

    My dad has gotten so sick of people asking us that, when people ask what breed I am, he tells them BROWN. Mom usually follows up with an eye roll and tells them I’m a pit mix. But mom shutters every time, because she never sees breeds… she just sees dogs with loving eyes -most of the time begging for a second chance.

    • That Touch of Pit ... January 24, 2012 at 2:32 PM #

      Corbin, your mom is very smart. We see the same thing as her, dogs who want love.

  6. barbara Kennedy January 24, 2012 at 1:56 PM #

    It’s a point of interest for me because I love dogs, and enjoy learning about them. Most people I meet at my dogpark are likeminded, and happy to share information about them.

    • That Touch of Pit ... January 24, 2012 at 2:34 PM #

      We definitely agree that we love talking about dogs. One thing we try to remind people all the time, though, is that a dog’s breed does not necessarily reflect on it’s personality – each dog is an individual. So, sure, knowing the breed is an interesting fact – but why does that fact have to impact a person’s opinion?

  7. Tucker's Mom January 24, 2012 at 3:11 PM #

    I think it’s just a natural curiosity, for the most part. It does seem to be human nature to want to investigate, categorize, and be “in the know.” I am personally more interested in what the response to the information might be, rather than the request for the information itself. I have small dogs now, but I spent sixteen years with a Malamute/Chow mix. He was a total pussycat, but he was large and physically imposing, and many people were afraid of him at first glance. Lots of people would ask me “is that a wolf?”

    But to my mind there’s a difference between “What a cute/pretty/beautiful/interesting-looking (insert adjective that applies) dog. What breed is he/she?” and “OMG, is that a PIT BULL?!!!!!!!”

    When I first had Tucker, I thought he was some kind of mixed breed terrier something or other. It wasn’t until I was getting him certified for therapy work that our reviewer clued me in, and I enlisted the opinions of several breeders who confirmed it. Tucker is neither large, nor physically imposing, and no one would ever fear him, but he IS unusual-looking and nine out of ten people we pass on the street ask what breed he is. Before I knew, I would simply say “the best dog ever.” And as I’m sure that Lucy is “the best dog ever” in your eyes, perhaps that might suffice as a future response. :o)

  8. TwoKittiesOnePittie January 24, 2012 at 3:55 PM #

    Great post that raises a lot of important questions. I’ve had very similar experiences with Zoe. She has the brindle markings and the pittie head, but she’s less stocky than other pitties, so people aren’t always sure what to make of her. When I’m asked what she is, I say a pit mix, and if further prompted, say something to the effect of “She was found in a dumpster, so we don’t know for sure. Maybe Boxer or American bulldog.” That tends to reduce the fear + make people more interested in Zoe’s story. I also don’t mind answering questions because I think it’s fun to try to guess dog breeds — as long as one knows that it doesn’t really matter.

  9. That Touch of Pit ... January 24, 2012 at 4:05 PM #

    Since you all like trying to identify breeds so much (and we admit, we do too), check out these fun online games:

  10. claudia January 24, 2012 at 4:18 PM #

    I find the “maybe American Bulldog” seems to placate people too when they ask what Lola is. Like Two Kitties, we really have no idea what Lola is. She’s a rescue, was probably found on the street and is something pittie, but is bigger and leaner that a “purebred” (whatever that is!). I just know she’s my girl.

  11. Two Grads January 24, 2012 at 4:22 PM #

    Having never even babysat a dog before, when I visited Havi for the first time and her fosters parents said she was a boxer terrier mix I didnt even bother to look up what that meant. I just knew when I saw her that she was meant to be in my home. And I was right.

    Its actually funny, because we have this habit, after people ask what she is and answering “pit mix” of bending down and whispering in her ear “you’re actually a Havi, but people don’t need to know that.”

  12. Ettel January 24, 2012 at 8:03 PM #

    Like others have mentioned I think most people ask out of sheer curiosity – I know I ask about a dog’s breed if I’m unsure. And like Tucker’s mom said, I’m more interested by their reaction to my answer than to the question in the first place. Unfortunately, just the other day we ran into a mom with a little boy. He asked very politely if he could say hi to my dogs. Both of my dogs will tolerate well behaved children, and I’m all for positive experiences, and he seemed like a great candidate (being so polite and all). Boy pats them on the back lightly and mom casually asks what breeds they are. I tell her the black one’s a Poodle and the red one is a Pit Bull (son happened to be petting Emma the Pitty as I said it). In the blink of an eye mom swings her son by the arm up and away from us and shrieks as she walks quickly away. It was so heartbreaking. I’d also think that if she were so sensitive to Pit Bulls she wouldn’t let her son approach in the first place – totally beats me. =-(

  13. Emily January 24, 2012 at 10:52 PM #

    Great post! Lately I’ve just been saying “St Francis Terrier” when people ask what kind of dog Turk is. If they want to look it up when they get home, they’ll see it’s another name for a “pit bull.” 🙂

  14. Debora January 24, 2012 at 10:54 PM #

    I guess I’m tired of the way we always have to set up someone as “the other.” Among dogs, pit bulls are “the other” – a disservice to dogs (who die in shelters everywhere as a direct result of this prejudice) and frankly to people, who, from a more benign perspective, forfeit wonderful experiences with amazing dogs, and of graver consequence, who lose a bit of their soul with each dog who dies so unfairly. We are dehumanized by such inhumanity….but with the progress we’re making in Miami and Ohio, perhaps we’re beginning to recognize this and fix it….Then maybe we’ll give all the other animals we treat so unfairly a chance.

  15. Of Pit Bulls and Patience January 26, 2012 at 8:54 AM #

    It seems to be the dog-people version of “how are you doing?”. Strangers making conversation, but about dogs instead. I am always asked if Skye is pure pit, which makes me laugh a little on the inside. I also explain that she was a stray, so there I don’t know for sure. And poor Parker is always mistaken for a poodle, but no one ever asks about him!

  16. Garnet Scarabin February 4, 2012 at 6:36 PM #

    In some practical ways, breed does matter if it is a breed that has specific needs or requirements. I love all dogs, regardless of breed, and volunteer twice a week at my local county animal shelter to take the dogs who are sick with kennel cough outside for exercise & socialization. However, I also run a breed specific dog rescue that primarily rescues German shorthaired pointers and English pointers. Many of these dogs end up in shelters or dumped in the middle of nowhere because they were adopted for their looks & nice dispositions by folks who know little to nothing about the breed and have no idea what they are getting themselves into. When they prove to be “too much” they are disposed of.

    By and large, I agree that breed make-up doesn’t matter. Nice dogs are nice dogs, period. It is fun to try to guess what they are; I have one purebred GSP and one mix who I think is a cross of GSP/Lab/sneaky weasel. They’re both rescues and are wonderful dogs, whatever their parentage. I’ve had some purely purebred folks look down a little on my mixed breed girl, but I always tell them “well, at least I know she isn’t inbred!” 🙂

  17. Kayla December 22, 2012 at 8:58 PM #

    She looks like my dog Patches so I love my baby boy so very much but I would love to know what he is. He is beautiful.

  18. Kayla December 22, 2012 at 8:59 PM #

    And so is Lucy, So adorable. .

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