Lily’s DNA Test Results

I’ve lived with this complicated, challenging, hyper-aware, hard-working dog for twelve years.



I found her when I was looking for a border collie mix – something smart and athletic that I could continue to compete in agility with. A BC rescue posted a photo of her on-line. Supposedly her mother was a border collie on a farm in the South. Although Lily didn’t move with the border collie crouch, she was obviously smart. And black and white. And needed a home.

The more that I got to know her, the clearer it became that she didn’t have any herding dog in her. What could be her heritage? Lily is reactive to movement and has a high prey drive. She’s wary of strangers. She’s smart. Very smart. She looks and acts like a giant rat terrier. But that was just a guess. I decided to do the DNA test. It’s not entirely accurate (here is a good article explaining how it works) but I thought it’d be fun to do. Scooter’s test came back spot on, so I had hopes that Lily’s mystery background would be solved. The first glitch was that she’s one of the few dogs that the cheek swab

 doesn’t work on. I took her to my vet for a blood draw.

The results are finally in, and was I surprised! One parent was a cross of a Collie and Chesapeake Bay Retriever. The other was Dalmatian crossed with a Husky. No unidentified mixed breeds, no terrier, no Border Collie. Her purebred dog ancestry goes back to her great-grandparents.

Lily does shed like a Dalmatian (notorious for leaving hair everywhere.) She’s strong-willed and watchful like these breeds. But, really? Who knows?

There was no clear winner of my guess the breeds contest. However, three people did guess Dalmatian. So, Connie M, Lesley S. and JJ, please email me with your snail mail address and I’ll get a book out to you!

Update on the cruciate ligament tear: My excellent and practical vet, Dr. Craig, agreed that surgery wasn’t the right thing for Lily. Instead, she’s allowed to live life on her terms, but now with a limp. Lily is ignoring the discomfort. She’s ably going up and down the stairs and just last week she figured out how to get on and off the bed with some modicum of decorum. She is, on her own, figuring out how to do her work without stressing the right leg. Smart dog. We keep her activity level reduced as best we can (no being sent outside to chase the heron!) as we are trying to keep the other hip from blowing out. So far, so good.


  1. I never would have been able to guess those four breeds if I’d tried! So glad to hear Lily is figuring out locomotion that works, with your help.

  2. Wow, what a mix. Lily the wonder dog. She is a beauty with those soulful eyes. Great photograph!

  3. What a pretty intelligent face! I never would have guessed either. Glad to hear she is moving along and is able to adapt.

  4. Hi Terry
    I was unable to email you through the link you provided as winner of the book for guessing Lily’s heritage…is there another way to send you my address? Perhaps you could email me and I could respond?
    Thanks so much! I appreciate it!!

  5. Interesting! I was thinking corgi because of the ears, but I would have been wrong. I took a DNA test for myself a while back and was a little surprised by the results……learned some things about my ancestry that I didn’t know.

  6. Interesting DNA results, who would have guessed. Really pleased Lily is coping okay, we deeply regretted having our Labrador operated on years ago never again.

  7. :D Now that’s a mix! Based on what you’ve written about Lily and those ears, I would have been -very- surprised if there hadn’t been Collie of some kind in there! And I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found the difficult, challenging animals usually wind up teaching me more than I teach them. I believe they’re here to help us be better people.

    What a lovely picture of Lily!

  8. What a beauty she is! So glad she is coping. We have a “poof” on the side of our bed for the many up and down antics of an very active terrier, and he does choose to use it most of the time, so he has some smarts! He didn’t like any kind of step stool – probably felt to slippery or unsteady underfoot, but the solid form of the poof was a winner. Target and/or Pier 1. Best Wishes for sweet Lily and Scooter too -Thanks for your gracious sharing of life with us Terry – the animals do help us live, learn, heal and even
    relate better with each other :)