Results of Nation’s First Ever Mutt Census Reveal Paw Print of Nation’s Mixed Breed Population

April 5, 2011

ROCKVILLE, Md., April 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — While the results of the U.S. Census continue to roll out, the findings of a more pet-friendly version – the National Mutt Census – are released today. Launched in March 2010, the Mutt Census – conducted by Mars Veterinary, the leading authority in dog DNA analysis – took a paw print of America’s mixed breed population and aimed to help strengthen the pet-owner bond. Mixed breed dogs account for more than half (53 percent) of all pet dogs in the U.S. and until now, their breed makeup has been largely guesswork. The results are now in and the German Shepherd is officially the most common breed identified in America’s mutts.

Mars Veterinary collected samples from around the country from more than 36,000 mixed-breed dogs. These samples underwent genetic analysis by the Mars Veterinary team to determine the breed history of each dog. This genetic data was combined with more than 16,000 responses to a Web survey from mixed breed owners. The Mutt Census survey asked questions about their dog’s size and weight, his feeding and exercise habits, whether he was adopted from a shelter – as well as questions about the dog’s health.

“The Mars Veterinary National Mutt Census provides a vivid snapshot of past and present trends in mixed breed dogs,” said Dr. Angela Hughes, Veterinary Genetics Research Manager at Mars Veterinary. “Thanks to the Census, we know what breeds are wide-spread, as well as how people are caring for their dogs and what health concerns they may have. The hope is that the pet community will use this information to provide better care for the nation’s mixed breed dogs.”

Mars Veterinary, a global leader in pet care and a division of MARS® Incorporated, is the industry’s gold standard genetic analysis provider for mixed-breed dogs. Their Wisdom Panel(TM) Insights test – a “do-it-yourself” cheek swab test – is the most comprehensive mixed breed test on the market, capable of detecting from among more than 185 breeds that make up a mixed breed dog with unparalleled accuracy.


The Mars Veterinary National Mutt Census is the most comprehensive analysis of the nation’s mixed breed dog population ever conducted. While the data collected was vast, a few key findings emerged:

Pet Trends: Pure Breed vs. Mixed-Breed

    -- While German Shepherds prove popular as both a pure
     breed and mixed-breed, the most common breeds registered
     by the American Kennel Club (AKC) are not necessarily the
     most common breeds found in mixed breed dogs. The top 10
     most popular breeds found in the nation's mutts include:

              1.   German Shepherd (# 2 most popular AKC registered breed)
              2.   Labrador Retriever (#1 most popular AKC registered breed)
              3.   Chow Chow (#63 most popular AKC registered breed)
              4.   Boxer (#6 most popular AKC registered breed)
              5.   Rottweiler (#13 most popular AKC registered breed)
              6.   Poodle (#9 most popular AKC registered breed)
              7.   American Staffordshire Terrier (#70 most popular AKC
                   registered breed)
              8.   Golden Retriever (#4 most popular AKC registered breed)
              9.   Cocker Spaniel (#23 most popular AKC registered breed)
              10.  Siberian Husky (#22 most popular AKC registered breed)

    -- Mutt Census data shows that the DNA of America's mix-
     breed dogs tells a story of which breeds were popular in
     past decades. If a breed was trendy in the past, but has
     fallen from popularity, it may still represent a large
     portion of the mixed breed population. For example, the
     Chow Chow breed -popular in the 1980s- is commonly found
     at the grandparent or great grandparent level in tested
     mixed breed dogs. The American Staffordshire Terrier in
     contrast, is a breed that appears to be growing in
     popularity against a trend of declining breed
     registrations overall.

A Paw-Print of Pet-Owner Trends

  • Shelter Dogs Rule!: Shelters are the most frequently cited place (46 percent) where people obtain mixed breed dogs, followed by a friend/neighbor or relative (18 percent).
  • Mutts Nibble on Kibble: Dry dog food is the most popular feeding choice (65 percent), surpassing mixed food (wet and dry – 21 percent), wet food (5 percent) and raw food and scraps (9 percent).
  • Doggy/Owner Sleepover: Nearly half of owners (48 percent) reported that their dog slept with them.
  • Small Dogs Rule: For most mixed-breed dog owners, bigger isn’t necessarily better. Breeds weighing more than 80 pounds represent less than 11 percent of all mixed breed dogs.
  • Bugs Bite: Flea and tick prevention is important for dogs living in most areas of the country, but 69 percent of respondents reported that they don’t use flea and tick control medicines regularly.
  • Population control: Nearly nine out of 10 (89 percent) mixed breed dogs are neutered.

The Science Behind Wisdom Panel

With a simple swipe of a cheek swab, the state-of-the-art Wisdom Panel Insights dog DNA test can determine the ancestry of a mixed-breed dog by testing for more than 185 breeds, the largest database on the market – all for the low price of $69.99. Within three weeks, dog owners will be e-mailed an official Ancestry Report that reveals the dog’s genetic background that may help owners make sense of obvious and not-so-obvious physical traits plus behaviors like digging, herding and barking that can all come from the various breeds in a dog’s family tree. Once an owner understands a dog’s natural tendencies, it’s possible to create a tailored training, exercise and nutrition program to fit his one-of-a-kind needs.

Wisdom Panel canine DNA analyses are based on nearly a decade of extensive research, drawing from the expertise of leading scientists, veterinarians, universities and breed organizations throughout the world. This science has not only yielded the swab-based Wisdom Panel Insights, the most comprehensive swab product on the market, but also Wisdom Panel(TM) Professional, the only blood-based canine DNA analysis available exclusively through veterinarians. Wisdom Panel development included the analysis of more than 19 million DNA markers from more than 13,000 dogs, enabling the detection of breed composition of a mixed-breed dog with unprecedented accuracy.

About Mars Veterinary(TM)

Mars Veterinary is a division of MARS® Incorporated, a company known for innovative consumer and pet food brands that are trusted by people around the world. Its mission is to facilitate responsible pet care by enlightening pet owners and communities with valuable insights into their pets as individuals through innovative, science-based discoveries. For nearly a decade, Mars Veterinary has researched and developed state-of-the-art genetic tests for mixed-breed dogs, revolutionizing personalized pet care. By discovering a mixed-breed dog’s ancestry, pet owners and veterinarians can work together to tailor wellness programs that fit the one-of-a-kind needs of a mixed-breed dog. For more information, visit www.wisdompanel.com.

About Mars, Incorporated

Mars, Incorporated is a private, family-owned company founded in 1911 and employing more than 65,000 associates at over 230 sites, including 135 factories, in 68 countries worldwide. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, U.S.A., Mars, Incorporated is one of the world’s largest food companies, generating global revenues of more than $28 billion annually and operating in six business segments: Chocolate, Petcare, Wrigley Gum and Confections, Food, Drinks, and Symbioscience. These segments produce some of the world’s leading brands: Chocolate – M&M’S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, MARS®, MILKY WAY® and TWIX®; Petcare – PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, SHEBA®, CESAR® and ROYAL CANIN®; Wrigley – ORBIT®, EXTRA®, STARBURST®, DOUBLEMINT® and SKITTLES®; Food – UNCLE BEN’S®, DOLMIO®, EBLY®, MASTERFOODS® and SEEDS OF CHANGE®; Drinks – KLIX® and FLAVIA®; Symbioscience – WISDOM PANEL(TM), SERAMIS®, CIRKUHEALTH(TM) and COCOAPRO®.

®/(TM) Trademarks © Mars, Incorporated 2009

SOURCE Mars Veterinary

Source: newswire

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