How to Identify a Dog Breed (A to Z tips)


With so many people looking to adopt a dog from a kennel, more and more people are asking how to identify dog breed. Sure, a shelter can contain a mix of pedigree dogs that are distinctive, but many of them are a mix and leave you wondering just what breed is this dog!

A husky for example is a pretty distinctive breed, but a husky cross leaves you wondering what the other half is.

So, What Is It? How to Identify Dog Breed by its features

One of the first things you can do to try and identify a dog breed is go with the most basic information you can see.

Start with one feature then move on to the next, anyone of these can unveil some clues:

Coat Type and Color 

Long, short, curly or, fur or hair can be a good start. Then colors typical of a breed can give you a lot of information for identification.


Dog coat and color are the first features to identify a dog breed


It sounds pretty obvious but make sure initially that it is not a puppy, it is not always easy to say just how big a puppy will grow up to be if you do not know the breed. It's a bit like a process of elimination for fully grown dogs. A medium sized dog obviously isn't going to be a Great Dane!

Head Shape

If you look closer into this it can give you a lot of information, something like a bull territory or basset hound has a long head so the length is a good indicator. But also take into consideration that square, domed or flattened heads are also a sign that can distinguish the breed.


Another good indicator, the characteristics of a dog can tell you a lot. A playful dog could be something like a Boxer or corgi, a more lazy dog could have some English bulldog or miniature pinscher. There is also the quiet dogs or guard dogs and submissive dogs that are all typical of certain breeds.


Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Consult a Vet

If you are starting to get some idea of how to identify your dog's breed but have some doubts, or even just want a second opinion, why not ask somewhere who sees hundreds of dogs every month.

The experts are your best point of call for getting a better idea of the breed and if they aren't certain they might recommend that you try a DNA test.

This is an excellent way of discovering the more prominent breeds within your dog's DNA. It is as simple as taking a swap from inside the dog's mouth and most vets offer this as a service.

DNA tests are even available to order online. Once you have done this at the comfort of your own home, you can await the results from the lab without even having to take your dog anywhere


Some vets might recommend that you try a DNA test.

Take Your Dog to the Local Kennel

If you didn't get your dog from a kennel, then this can be a good place to check. They see so many varieties that they will often be able to give you some useful information based on their experience.

They often have meet ups and open days, so take a look and find the date of the next one, take your dog a long and ask their opinion. Sometimes you can open up a discussion and get some ideas to help narrow down the possible breeds.


Pembroke Welsh Corgi

How to Identify Dog Breed - Compile all the Information

Once you have thought through what they are most like out of the above, you can often narrow it down to a handful of breeds. Once you have done this, narrow it down even further by looking online at pictures and even videos of each breed.

There are some very useful dog kennel sites that have a great deal of information and images in a dog breed category. This is often a good way of finding similarities and differences with your pet.

Read as much information as you can about each breed before you start to make conclusions.


A lot of the time, people find themselves being put off because the breed isn't what they expected, but the fact is, if you chose a specific dog then you have to stand by that decision. You should not pay any mind to what the breed is, a dog should not be judged on its background in this sense.

About the Author Cindy Grant

A pet lover from Boston, USA who is extremely passionate about all cute little pets, especially puppies, kittens and birds. I created NolongerWild as a community where all pet lovers around the world can meet and share their passion with each other.

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