Looks Can be Deceiving

March 28, 2012  

A mixed breed, Snoopy is often mistaken for a pit bull

By Gabi Moore

“That’s not a pit bull, is it?” asked my future landlord, as she suspiciously eyed the photo of my dog, who was listed “Boston Terrier/Beagle” mix on his rabies’ papers.

Pit bulls were one of the banned breeds at this, and every, apartment complex I had seen. My dog, Snoopy, was listed as a Boston Terrier/Beagle mix by the shelter where I had adopted him, but breed labels like that for mixed breeds are almost always just speculation.

I couldn’t blame her for asking, as Snoopy certainly has the pit bull look, with his blocky head, pointed ears and big smile, but we needed a place to live.

“Nah,” I said, as casually as I could, trying to act like I had never even considered the possibility. “The Boston Terrier in him just sort of gives him that look.”

She glanced at the papers one more time, shrugged, and agreed with me. The apartment was ours.

Since we moved in, Snoopy has been on his best behavior, and the question of his breed has never come up again because my landlord and my neighbors have seen what a sweet and well-mannered dog he is. I always make sure to keep him on a leash and never let him bother the other residents!

He is so well-behaved that he goes everywhere with me, and his trips out into the real world always bring some raised eyebrows, some people making wide circles around us, and a few moms nervously asking, “What kind of dog is that?” as their kids are petting him.

For a long time, my answer to that question was always, “Good question. Your guess is as good as mine.” It is funny to hear the different ideas people have of what makes a pit bull. Some people insist Snoopy is a pit bull, while others say they don’t see it at all. Breeds that have been suggested to be in the mix included Boxer, bulldog, Labrador, spaniel, Corgi, Bull Terrier, pit bull, Boston Terrier, Beagle and even Pug.

After plenty of speculation, whether I asked for it or not, I decided to put the guessing to an end and have a DNA test done on Snoopy. I love him no matter what breed he is, but I thought it would be interesting to find out and nice to finally have an answer to all the people asking what kind of dog I have.

The results show that he is 50 percent Boston Terrier, 25 percent Shar-pei, and the rest is a mix that could include Corgi, Australian Shepherd, Schnauzer, English Setter and bulldog. I never would have guessed Shar-pei, simply because they’re not as common, but it makes a lot of sense. He has the size and build of a Shar-pei, his ears are similar to a Shar-pei’s, and he has extremely loose skin and loose wrinkles on his face and around his neck. The Boston Terrier makes a lot of sense too and explains where he gets his bully look.

Of course, knowing his genetic makeup isn’t going to stop strangers from judging him and making assumptions about what kind of dog he is, and that is what worries me.

Snoopy has earned his Canine Good Citizen certificate, so even if we encounter landlords with breed restrictions in the future who aren’t as easygoing as our current landlord, we will be prepared to prove what a well-trained and well-mannered dog he is.

What concerns me the most isn’t restrictions from landlords, but the government. My fiance’s family has a cottage in Grand Bend, Ontario, and we travel there often. Ontario, unfortunately, has a breed ban on pit bulls and dogs that are “substantially similar” to pit bulls. This ban isn’t only relevant to people who live there, but applies to tourists who travel to or even through the province with their dogs. Even if we are only visiting, if an officer thought Snoopy looked like a pit bull, he would be able to take my dog.

To me, Snoopy is just one of many examples of why breed-discriminatory legislation doesn’t work. Snoopy is genetically tested not to be a pit bull, but he could still be labeled one because of his appearance. There are many purebred dogs that can get mistaken for pit bulls too, so when you get into the issue of mixed-breed dogs, it can be almost impossible to tell what kind of dog it is.

How silly it is that people think the way a dog looks could have anything to do with how they would behave! If people were to judge humans in the same way, we would call it racism.

Although Snoopy might not be a pit bull, he and I will continue to fight against breed discrimination and do our best to make the name “pit bull” a proud one when he is mislabeled. Every time someone wrongly assumes he is a pit bull, I get a chance to educate them about what great dogs pit bulls can be.

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20 Responses to “Looks Can be Deceiving”
  1. honeyremedy says:

    My dog is also mistaken for a pit bull all of the time. I was told he is an American Bulldog/ Pug-Terrier mix. I want to get a blood test done because he is built like a greyhound (with that big ol’ head) but little at only 40 pounds. I would love to know exactly what is in him and what makes him do the silly things he does!I am far too familiar with the nervous skirting around us when we are at the park; and I sometimes giggle because Bubba is such a clown and so goofy looking that I wonder how people see the “mean” in him.I will admit, that when people are very interested in him I fib and say he “probably” is a pit mix because he is so well tempered and mannered I hope I can change someones mind about the breed. I hope one day to get Bubba a “Bubba” and I would love for that to be a “pit bull”, but unfortunately,  I am not able to own a home and you can hardly find a place to rent that allows pets let alone a “pit bull” looking dog. I loved this post, I could relate to it very much so and I have to say that Snoopy is adorable! 

    • StubbyDog says:

       @honeyremedy We were sure many fans would relate to this too. Bubba sounds like an incredible boy!

  2. pitbullsrock says:

    Gabi – Snoopy is darling, no matter what he is. The fear of pit bulls gets tiresome when most people don’t even know what a pit bull is. I met a young woman who had a lovely dog that looks just like one of mine. She said the vet put on the paperwork that he’s a boxer-Lab mix since her apartment does not allow pit bulls. Ah, the games we have to play. And maybe he is a boxer mix. But who cares as long as he’s a good doggy?

    • StubbyDog says:

       @pitbullsrock We don’t think Gabi cares what Snoopy is, it’s just said that people judge based on looks, when many times what they think is incorrect.

      • gabimoore says:

         @StubbyDog  @pitbullsrock Yep, I would still love him no matter what he was (and he would still be the same dog, if he was a pit or not). It just goes to show how little breed actually matters, it literally is just a label that often might not even be true!

  3. StellaGVidales says:

    Lovin’ Snoopy’s smile!!! What a charmer he is!!! I’d love to get my Nalani Angel’s Rose tested to see how many doggies are in her!!! There has to be some clown in her ’cause she is one silly Pibble!! Upon her first visit to her new vet, he told me that Nalani is a Chocolate Lab/Pit Bull mix. But if she’s a mix, I’d love to know what other dogs might have contributed to her loving and loyal personality. Where can I get a DNA test done on Nalani and what would be the approximate cost? Do you know if there’s any place in San Antonio, TX o even the state of Texas where I can have this done? I think it would be sooo cool to find out my Nalani has some royal blood running through her little Pibble veins!!!  🙂 

    • gabimoore says:

       @StellaGVidales I did the testing through Mars Wisdom Panel… there are different options, some which involve going to your vet to get a blood test and are more expensive, and one that is just an at home cheek swab that you can send in.

    • KristaBayerlein says:

      i live in san antonio, and from what ive heard, the affordable petcare on basse does the dna test for around $20-30, which is alot cheaper than doing the store bought ones.. hope this helps! 😀

  4. laurapmooney says:

    What a cutie and loved your comment “How silly it is that people think the way a dog looks could have anything to do with how they would behave! If people were to judge humans in the same way, we would call it racism.” 

  5. Vmparra03 says:

    ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. — Some dog owners in Elephant Butte are now required to register and insure their dogs. A new ordinance enacted March 1 singles out the owners of pit bulls, Rottweilers, and German shepherds. Owners must now provide their addresses, photos of their dogs, proof of vaccinations and proof of personal property liability worth $100,000. “If you wanna have your pit bull, you have to have the personal responsibility and have homeowner’s insurance,” said Elephant Butte City Manager Alan Briley.  Briley said the law was created in light of the death of Margaret Salcedo in neighboring town Truth or Consequences last year.  Margaret was mauled to death by a pack of dogs who escaped from their yard. Her brother, Gary Salcedo, said the owners of the dogs who killed Margaret were not held accountable.  “The person responsible or who owns those dogs usually, as a rule, don’t have to pay anything,” Gary told ABC-7. “That just drags on court after court after court.”  Gary said Elephant Butte’s new ordinance has the right idea. He wishes his own town would follow suit.  “I do think that people should be financially responsible enough to take care of whatever that dog might do. Own the dog if you will, but be able to pay up if something goes wrong,” Gary said.
    As part of the new ordinance, owners of the specified breeds must also purchase special red and yellow collars to identify their dogs as potentially dangerous. Briley says they chose to have people register their dogs rather than ban the breeds completely.  “According to the center for disease control, those three breeds of dogs are responsible for 75 percent of all dog-related deaths in the country,” Briley said.  Truth or Consequences amended its animal control ordinance a few months ago. Police Captain James Morgan said the additions didn’t really change the law, but they gave officers more power to enforce it.  “So far it’s worked pretty well,” Morgan said. “We are just trying to protect the community and still safeguard the rights of our citizens.”  The law now allows officers to seize a dangerous dog after it attacks until a judge decides whether or not it is vicious. If a dog is determined to be vicious, then it is up to the owner to make the decision to euthanize the dog or go through a rigorous registration process to keep the dog.  Morgan says he doesn’t see T-or-C creating a law like Elephant Butte’s because he feels it infringes on citizen’s rights by singling out certain dog breeds.
    “Every animal has the potential of being dangerous. I don’t believe it’s the best way to deal with it,” Morgan said.  But Gary doesn’t feel the amendments were enough, especially in light of another dog attack last week. On March 18, an American bulldog was shot and killed after it attacked a police officer in the same neighborhood where Margaret was killed.

    • StubbyDog says:

       @Vmparra03 The danger with those types of laws or ordinances is that is judges dogs purely on looks and unfortunately also singles out responsible guardians of pit bulls, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, etc. And those statistics are completely skewed as dogs are misidentified at least 75 percent of the time by animal control officers and the like. It’s time for dogs to be judged as individuals and to make sure people follow other laws, such as leash laws, and if they want to pass any ordinances they should be spay and neuter and making it illegal to chain a dog outside. Enforce responsible guardianship, not breed discriminatory laws.

      • honeyremedy says:

         @StubbyDog  Yes exactly! We need programs to prevent over population (puppy mills & spay and neuters), enforcing against chaining, dog fighting and animal abuse in general. We as a society need to get the tools to help each other and to help the animals getting the blame for our problems. But first and foremost we need to understand banned breed laws and laws like this are stereotyping millions of animals. Just because 1 banana in a bunch went bad does not mean all of the other bananas grown on the tree will be bad. 

    • CarrieBassett says:

       @Vmparra03 How ridiculous!!  If they want to be that restrictive in that town to dogs, they should make it for all breeds.  Make no mistake, I find any laws that impede peoples freedom to be disgusting.  I wish people could see these awesome dogs as they really are, not how they are portrayed!

  6. Vmparra03 says:

    Ignorance breeds ignorance!

  7. jennmartinelli says:

    This points out so many things that are wrong with breed specific legislation.
    It is absolutely ridiculous for anyone to believe that the way a dog looks means something about how it will behave. This is obvious to anyone who knows dogs at all or has a level head on their shoulders.
    I occasionally dog-sit in my home for a friend at work who has an undetermined “pit bull looking” dog. She is just a sweet as pie, gentle and calm, very easy-going and lets our cats bully her. I walk her in my neighborhood and usually get a lot of smiles from people which is nice. But recently I encountered a man on my block who had his very small dog out, unleashed (incidentally, that’s illegal in Boston) and when he saw me with Xena he picked his dog up right away. I was extremely annoyed but said, calmly, “Oh don’t worry, she’s very nice.” He eyed us as we walked by and asked, “Is that a pit bull?” I said, “Probably, she’s a mixed breed. But she’s very gentle.” again, trying to be nice and not show my annoyance. He replied, “Yeah, I don’t really trust them, so…” and walked away with his dog. There were so many things I wanted to say but I couldn’t compose myself so I just rolled my eyes and said something like, “OK, WHATEVER.”
    It’s so frustrating. It honestly is no different at all from deciding a person is bad or scary because of their race. Completely ridiculous.

    • Vmparra03 says:

       @jennmartinelli I too get that “how dare you bring her here” look when Tulip and I go out for our morning run.  People will actually get off the track just to let us pass by.  I get so frustrated with people’s ignorance.  Tulip is sweet and loving,  all she wants to do is run and you can tell by the huge smile on her face.  How can anyone miss her beautiful smile?!  So sad!

  8. blazer says:

    well said!

  9. CarrieBassett says:

    I had to steal the following quote and share it on facebook  
     “How silly it is that people think the way a dog looks could have anything to do with how they would behave! If people were to judge humans in the same way, we would call it racism.”
    Of course I gave full credit to Gabi and stubbydog.org.  That is hitting the nail right on the head in my book.  Thank you so much for sharing the adventures of snoopy!!

    • StubbyDog says:

       @CarrieBassett Thanks Carrie, what Gabi says is so true, we (as a society) have to stop judging based on looks for anything.. people, animals, etc.