<with apologies to Forest Gump…> Mutts are like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re gonna get.

Over the course of our almost 40 years together, my husband and I have spun the roulette wheel of doggie DNA six times as we’ve welcomed “mutts” into our lives. Three were labeled Shepard/Husky mixes, one was a lab mix, one was a shepherd/Carolina dog mix, and one was straight up Heinz 57 (a Puerto Rican street dog with at least 57 breeds in his lineage.) Success ratio: 1 out of 6.

Dog one was the truest to his cage tag of shepherd/husky mix. I suspect there were other breeds mixed in there, but those were his predominant size, color, and personality traits. So far so good.

Dog two was not even close to the shepherd/husky mix the cardboard box at a South Carolina flea market promised. He topped out at a whopping 104 pounds. He had Doberman markings, but we never did figure out what the “big dog” cross was. And, um, let’s just say he didn’t have quite the IQ of our super smart shepherd/husky mix. Not even close.

Dog three picked my husband as she huddled in her cage at the shelter. Tag read shepherd/husky. She turned out to be a Norwegian Elkhound. In all fairness, the Elkhound resembles a shepherd, but the Elkhounds are smaller. I believe she was a purebred, but what are the odds someone dumped a box of purebreds when they could have sold them for big money?

Dog four who came from a foster dog program, looked like a mottled lab; short-haired (our preference) and roly-poly—who could resist? She didn’t grow much, so the lab lineage didn’t pan out. Her fur grew long and silky, and she had the rounding-up instincts of a border collie. When wet, she had the body image of a beagle. Oh, and she had the beagle howl. Surprise, surprise.

Dog five came to us in an emergency rehome situation, a tawny, twelve-pound bundle of skin and bones. Diagnosis: Carolina dog/shepherd mix, projected full size of 30 to 40 pounds. This dog has literally grown before our very eyes, weighing it at 74 pounds at his one-year checkup. He has the conformation and droopy jowls of a Great Dane; the wide, cement-hard head of a yellow lab; and the sit-under-the-porch-on-a-sunny-summer’s-day smarts of a Carolina dog. He loves to snuggle on a lap. The problem is nobody in our household has a lap that big.

Dog six, the Puerto Rican street dog, came with no guesses as to his lineage or false promises of size or temper. He is what he is: a little brown dog with a great big heart. He just celebrated his first birthday, and doesn’t appear to be getting much taller (wider maybe…that dog is always hungry! I think that comes from spending the first four months of his life not knowing where his next meal was coming from.) He might have a little chihuahua and/or min-pin in him, but the rest is a mystery.

You know where this is going, right?

To Doggie-DNA test, or not to Doggie-DNA test. That is the question we are currently debating.

Costs range from $50 to $200 per test. I can take a sample of my dog’s saliva and send it in and see which breeds exactly are inside my fur babies. Many of my friends have tested their dogs and shown the results, some surprising, but most not telling them anything they didn’t already know.

While the true breed of “mutt” is never going to be invited to the Westminster Kennel Club dog show—I’m not sure any self-respecting Mutt would even want to—would knowing their lineage have any effect on their lives? Or mine? Would it make me more enthusiastic about vacuuming fur off the sofa cushions? Would the level of spoiling them increase? Would our love for these snuggle bunnies change? The answer to all of these questions is No.

The mutts in my house are always welcome, and in good company. After all, I’m a mutt myself.

<<If any of you have had an experience with a canine DNA test, I’d love to hear about it.>>


Jayne Ormerod grew up in a small Ohio town then went on to a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her degree in accountancy, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor.) She married a naval officer and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, have settled into a cozy cottage by the sea. Jayne is the author of the Blonds at the Beach Mysteries, The Blond Leading the Blond, and Blond Luck, as well as a dozen other short stories and novellas. Her most recent releases are Goin’ Coastal and “It’s a Dog Gone Shame!” in To Fetch a Thief.






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8 thoughts on “MUTTS ARE LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES by Jayne Ormerod”

  1. We have had a bunch of dogs in our 55 year marriage. Collie mix, Shepherd mix, Dalmation mixes (Raisin and Chocolate Chip), a couple doxies, Weimarieners, but my favorite was a purebred Dalmation named (by my son) “Jetta” after the car, not after Star Wars characters. She loved to go motor-home camping with us, and would run tirelessly beside my ATV as we zoomed across sand dunes. When I went out riding my horse, she would “heal” right at the mare’s front shoulder till we crossed the street, then at my not, would roam, sniffing, nearby. It got so my mare wouldn’t go out without Jetta. Her name was Jessica, so I called them “Jet” and “Jess.”Well minded, intelligent. This good dog was run over in a fluke accident at home. 🙁
    I’ve wondered at my own DNA, but hesitate because of the lack of privacy issue, but any of my past dogs? GO FOR IT! (We only have cats now, one Maine Coon at 12 and a couple short-hairs at 16 and 18.)
    Goodness, have I ever waxed nostalgic!

    1. Such great dog stories! Dogs are the best! You painted a vivid image of the Dalmatian running alongside your mare. That image brings me peace. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Awww! They’re all adorable. If you do the doggie DNA test, I can’t wait to hear about it. Our first rescue pup, Domino, looked like a Schnauzer/Scottie mix. I called her a Snottie for years, but a vet later said she was part doxie.

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