Karen B. London
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Canardly Marley
What breeds are in this dog?
What do you think Marley is?

I love mutts, mixed breeds, crosses and every other sort of unidentifiable dog. Part of me doesn’t care what breeds they have in them. I’m charmed when I ask someone what kind of dog that is and they lovingly say, “He’s just a dog.” Another part of me is fascinated by what the mix of genetics means for a dog’s appearance and behavior. I often describe my dog Bugsy as “half Black Lab, half handsome stranger.” Most of the time that is enough knowledge for me, but sometimes I feel as though it’s my life’s quest to learn more about his ancestry.

Yes, I know you can have your dog’s DNA analyzed to learn what breeds they have in them, but these results are so unreliable that as a scientist, I just can’t put much stock in them. For me, it’s much more fun, and just as informative, to ask a ton of people familiar with dogs what breeds they think are in a dog.
My friend’s dog Marley is an unknown mix. He’s the sort of dog who was long ago described as a Heinz 57. Nowadays, dogs like Marley are more likely to be referred to as a “Canardly” as in, “You canardly tell what he is.” So, I put it to you. Based on the pictures of his face, his side view, and his back end (I find rears informative—don’t ask me why!) what breeds do you think are in his ancestry? He is approximately 23 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 55 pounds.
I have my own ideas about what’s in him, but I don’t want to bias anyone. To keep me honest, I will tell my fellow bloggers what my guesses are, and in a few weeks, I’ll post them. I look forward to hearing what you think.



Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Casey Lomonaco ... | December 8 2010 |

I'd be interested to learn more about his temperament and behavior. I see maybe a bit of ACD and some hound in him?

Submitted by Karen London | December 8 2010 |

Here's a little about Marley's behavior, since I've been asked. He's a bit under two years old, just to put this in context.

Before training, he was a huge jumper-upper on people, and in times of excitement still does regress. He almost never jumps up on his guardian, though, unless he hasn't seen her for days because she's been out of town. He loves to chew--bones, pig's ears, rawhide, and all the usual culprits. He has done some destructive chewing, but only a few times, so for a dog his age, it's not really noteworthy. He enjoys balls very much and amuses himself dribbling/batting them around on the floor. He'll stay occupied with a frozen Kong for as long as 45 minutes and also loves the Kong Wubba and the Kong Wobbler.

He loves water, is NOT at all sound sensitive, and rarely barks except during play with other dogs. His play is diverse in that he likes to wrestle with other dogs and to chase them. He'll spin in play, leap in play, and do some body slams, though they are quite controlled. When he sees another dog, he'll get revved up, tensing and sometimes whining. He'll either lie down in what seems like a calm state and then pounce when the dog gets closer or pull right towards the dog. He's most definitely dog friendly and his reaction is just out of excitement.

He sleeps a lot and is easy to tire out, though he loves to run and can go for a long time. By 9 PM, he's done for the day. He enjoys petting/massage and tends to like to be near people, often choosing to lie on the floor with his head on our feet as we sit on the couch or chairs. He is reasonably fast as a runner, but he's more about power than speed and seems to be able to run up steep hills almost as fast as he runs on the flat. He is one of those dogs who has no idea where his back feet are, and though he's athletic, that gives him a little bit of an endearing clumsiness, too. He adores guys. He's friendly with kids and people of both genders, but he really, really loves guys.

He's friendly and sweet. Basically, when you look at his face and see goodness, you're getting an accurate read on him.

Submitted by Karen B. | December 8 2010 |

Part yellow lab, part...hound?

Submitted by Christine | December 8 2010 |

I am going to guess he may have some Australian Cattle Dog in him. Head shape, tail shape, eyes, and some colouration.
There is a wild canine native to South Carolina called (i believe) a "Carolina Dog" (i know..how original) and honestly, he looks a LOT like that.
Best wishes!

Submitted by Rachel C. | December 8 2010 |

I also think he might have some Australian Cattle Dog in him, since his "look" totally reminded me of my blue heeler mix (His mom was a cattle dog who was rescued from the shelter pregnant but Dad was an unknown). Another part of Marley is what I like to call "hound" :-) And his coloration and body type are very similar to my totally unknown hound mix found on the side of the road in KY. I love mixed breed dogs! But I admit, sometimes my curiosity begs to be satisfied on what the heck really is in them!!!

Submitted by Gena Ratcliff | December 8 2010 |

I think Marley is a tad of Lab, a bit of curly coat retriever or Chesapeak retreiver and a touch of german shepherd.

Whatever he turns out to be, he is ALL cute.

Submitted by Craig Smith | December 8 2010 |

I'm going to take a WAG.
Part Canaan dog and part Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Submitted by Anonymous | December 8 2010 |

Grey Hound German Shepherd

Submitted by Tiffani | December 8 2010 |

I think he looks like a short-haired border collie/golden retriever mix. I have a short-haired border collie mix and her tail looks just like his!

Submitted by Candace | December 9 2010 |

I am going to guess German Shepherd, border collie and husky. Mainly because of the body shape and colouring spots. He is very cute.

Submitted by LD | December 9 2010 |

I'm usually pretty good at this game, but I'll admit I'm stumped. I'd second the vote on Ridgeback and maybe some collie or cattle dog. Whatever his mix, he's a handsome guy!

Submitted by Chelse | December 9 2010 |

I wonder about beagle being in his mix of many breeds? His forehead reminds me of a beagle and some of his coloring, too. I'd toss cattle dog (square body, back end) and chessie (hair, color, eyes, power) in the mix, too!

Submitted by Carrie | December 10 2010 |

He is a very cute labra-beaga-huska-chesapeakle.

Submitted by muttlove | August 15 2011 |

hahaha chesapeakle! that's cute

Submitted by Aimee Moore | December 13 2010 |

I think Beagle when I first look - with a good dose of many "handsome strangers" :0)

Submitted by Bill | December 26 2010 |

Lab Sheppard or Lab Malamute

Submitted by Karen London | January 12 2011 |

I had mentioned when I posted this blog that I would share my best guess about Marley's genetic heritage. My thought is that he has some kind of hound in him, most likely Beagle, some Lab, and probably a lot of other breeds, too. Thanks to all of you for letting me know what you see in him! He's an incredibly lovable dog, no matter what series of breedings brought him into being.

Submitted by Jo | August 15 2011 |

He has to be at least 75% Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (late to the party..you probably know exactly what he is by now).

Submitted by muttlove | August 15 2011 |

i'd have to guess lab (ears) and shepherd (tail). he does have a border collie kind of look too... really cool dog

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