Pam Kelley has fostered hundreds of dogs.
With each one, she is constantly asked the same question: what is it?
"A lot of times, we just guess," Kelley said. "We have no idea."
Her latest pup, Melvin, is an obvious Labrador mix, but a mix of "what" can only be determined through DNA testing, 10TV's Anietra Hamper reported.
"The biggest thing is they'll try to figure out what breed it might be and that tells you how big the dog is likely to grow," Kelley said.
Advances in technology and DNA testing allow this science to be applied to man's best friend. It is beneficial for determining not just the size of the dog, but the behavior and predisposed health problems found in particular breeds. However, the very complex science is not completely perfected yet.
"One might actually receive the results and it might not look like those breeds contributed to this individual dog," said Dr. Josh Daniels of Ohio State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "What it means at the end of the day, I don't think anyone knows."
Companies that sell dog DNA kits promise to tell you what kind of breeds are in your dog. The problem is that if the primary breed of your dog is not in their database, you could end up with more questions than answers, Hamper reported.
Hamper found her dog, Sunny, on the street, not knowing his breed or history. She ordered a cheek swab test online for $60 that she conducted at home and sent in for analysis.
Once the results came in, no breed that was in the company's database registered more than 75 percent in Sunny's DNA. The test results assigned the most closely related breeds or breeds that are in the database.
The ancestry analysis shows that Scottish terrier was detected in 37 to 74 percent of the dog. Great Pyrenees showed up in 20 to 36 percent of the dog's DNA. Basset Hound was determined in 10 to 19 percent of his DNA. A trace amount -- less than 10 percent -- of Irish setter showed up in the results.
"It was pretty stunning," said Greg Schneider, a dog trainer, who has worked with Sunny. "The two big dogs really did not fit in physically with him, except he pulled like a great strong Pyrenees when we first started working together!"
After contacting the lab and sending a picture, the company determined that Sunny's breed is likely not in their database, although the database is continually updated.
Several companies offer the DNA tests. There are two types of tests. The cheek swab can be performed at home. Another test requires a blood draw from a veterinarian.
Each lab uses its own database so results could differ from company to company.
Kelley said that she is interested in testing her dogs but realizes that if she is going to spend $60 to $150 to give it a shot, she may not get the answers she wants.
The labs that were contacted by 10TV News said that they have more than 90 percent accuracy. Another sample was sent in from the blood draw and the results from the DNA test should come back soon.
The results will be compared and we will let you know what they are, Hamper reported.
Stay with 10TV News and 10TV.com for additional information.