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What Breed Am I? - Part 2

Posted 2/26/2021


When I sent Ozzie’s saliva off to be DNA tested, I had suspicions as to his breed makeup. His look was unique, he had strong personality traits, and he had been rescued from an island in the Caribbean. I was fortunate to be in contact with the families who had adopted two of Ozzie’s brothers, so I had information about them as well. I was being a bit mischievous when I asked you to guess Ozzie’s breeding since I already had an idea that he would have an unusual ‘breed’ in his DNA.

If you missed the first part of Ozzie's DNA testing story, find it here:

What Breed Am I - Part 1


I was surprised to find, however, that not only did he have this ‘breed’ in his background, but he was 100% pure. I truly believed that his results would show Whippet, Poodle, or a type of wire-haired dog. Ozzie is somewhat Whippet shaped. He is tall and narrow, and tucked up. He often prances rather than walks. He has Poodle mannerisms, and Poodle could explain the wire coat since he does not behave like a terrier. In fact, I was certain there would be Poodle. But I was wrong, he only had one ‘breed’ in his genetic makeup.


Embark Certificate of BreedEmbark Certificate of Breed


Ozzie in an American Village Dog. Do not be surprised if you have never heard of it. Most people have not. I only learned of village dogs recently. This is surprising since village dogs make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s dog population. It is estimated that there are 1 billion dogs in the world today. (This number only includes Canis familiaris, not wolves, jackals, or other canines.) Of this, only 15%, or approximately 150 million dogs are considered domestic; they are pets or working dogs. The remaining 850 million dogs have no human caretaker. They are responsible for their own food, shelter, and reproduction. These are village dogs.


Photo by Mohan Vamsi on UnsplashPhoto by Mohan Vamsi on Unsplash


Village dogs are also known as strays, street dogs, neighborhood dogs, island dogs, pariah dogs, or feral dogs. They can be found in almost any region of the world. Embark recognizes 22 geographically based populations of village dogs in their DNA testing. (African; American; Arabian; Central Asian; Central and East African; Chinese; East Asian; Eastern European; European; Hong Kong; Japanese and Korean; Melanesian; Middle Eastern; Northern East African; Polynesian; South Asian; Southeast Asian Island; Southeast Asian; Vietnamese; West African; West Asian; and Western European.) These dogs live near human settlements and scavenge from their waste. Most have learned to live near people without actually encountering them. You can find them in dumps, alleys, and near restaurants. They may stroll through villages and resorts. You have probably seen them and not given them a second thought. They have learned to be unobtrusive and invisible.


Image by Sandeep Handa from PixabayImage by Sandeep Handa from Pixabay


It is common misconception that these semi-feral dogs are strays or mongrels. People wonder what breeds of runaway dogs have created these mixed canines. We think of purebred dogs as the original dogs and all mixed-looking mutts as being derived from them. But if this were true, where did the purebreds come from? In fact, purebred dogs were selectively bred from an ancestral type of dog: the original dog, the real dog, the village dog.


Image by Amarpreet Singh from PixabayImage by Amarpreet Singh from Pixabay


The book What Is A Dog? states that village dogs “are the real dogs… they are unique and beautifully designed by evolution… they are part of a continuous worldwide and ancient population of dogs. They are much more ancient than any ‘ancient’ breed… Our beautiful village dogs are neither the result of artificial selection nor the result of mongrelization of stray pet dogs… The village dog is the animal that evolved on its own.” Modern breeds are the result of people controlling dog reproduction; by selecting and breeding for specific traits. There are no such things as breeds in the wild.


Photo by Daniel Pell on UnsplashPhoto by Daniel Pell on Unsplash


The various populations of village dogs around the world are very similar, and Ozzie falls within the typical look and personality, although his black and tan wire coat can at first look out of place. A post from describes a village dog as “usually a smooth coated dog between fifteen and forty-five pounds… He may be any colour, and he often has spots.  His ears will be somewhat floppy, or even tulip shaped… his tail will often curve upward, perhaps even extending over his back… The village dog… is often calm in the house, active out of doors, a careful eater, and may be aloof from strangers and other dogs.” The size, colour, and disposition of village dogs are a result of the natural selection within the niche it occupies.


Photo by Evan Clark on UnsplashPhoto by Evan Clark on Unsplash


People and their waste products have created a niche in which village dogs have survived for centuries. It is a niche that will not be taken up by wolves, coyotes, or jackals. Those canids reside in their own niches. Village dogs are not facing any threat from the domesticated dogs of the world. Even if all 150 million purebred dogs were released into the wild at once, they would not survive very long as the various breeds are not adapted to semi-feral life. Some packs of village dogs may initially show some limited signs of crossbreeding, but there will be little to no effect on the genetic structure of the world’s village dog population. Until humans become extinct, village dogs will not disappear.


Video screen shots of Ozzie and other village dogs at DCDR rescue. Ozzie is in right picture on the right side.Video screen shots of Ozzie and other village dogs at DCDR rescue. Ozzie is in right picture on the right side.


An article from reads that "village dogs are self-sufficient, social animals living quite happily... Village dogs have thrived for generations on their own, and do not need human interference to 'save' them... Experts disagree over whether or not village dogs should be adopted as pets." The more research I do and the more knowledge I gain, the more conflicted I am about rescue groups interfering with the village dog population. There are far too many factors to consider to cover here with valid arguments on both sides. Ozzie and his brothers were rescued from an area where the local village dogs were being poisoned. I have no doubt that he would not be alive today had it not been for the Dogs and Cats of the Dominican Republic taking the pups in. For that I am forever grateful. I am also confident that the vacancy created by the removal of these three dogs will be filled by other pups who will then be at risk. It is a complicated issue.

Adopting Ozzie has piqued my interest about the world's village dogs and has changed the way I view the street and beach dogs I see when travelling. If you would like to learn more about these ancestral dogs, read What Is A Dog? by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger.


Ozzie the American Village Dog!!


Click on the link below to order What Is A Dog? by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger


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