Rise of canine DNA testing kits used by doting owners exposes scam which breeders passing off mongrels as pure-bred dogs to boost prices
They are undoubtedly top dog: pedigree hounds whose impeccable lineage is a source of great pride to their devoted owners.
But many of Britain’s ardent dog-lovers are increasingly finding they’ve been sold a pup.
The rise of canine DNA testing kits is exposing a dubious trade in which breeders pass off mongrels as pure-bred dogs in order to boost their prices.
Canine DNA testing kits are now available online and in most pet stores for about £50, and they are hugely popular.
Leading DNA brand Wisdom Panel says more than one million dogs have been tested with its kits since it launched in 2007. But while most owners test for fun, others are uncovering a worrying trend.
Some experts warn that as many as one in ten dogs sold as pedigree are, in fact, mongrels.
Kelly Hardacre, 32, from Essex, owns a gang of eight boisterous dachshunds. Now the ninth most popular breed in the UK, owners pride themselves on their ‘pure-bred’ small stature and silky coats.
Which is why Kelly was disappointed to discover that two of hers are actually cross-breeds.
Four-year-old Chester was sold to Kelly and her husband Tommy, 33, as a pure-breed miniature shorthaired dachshund and came with papers from the Kennel Club, the UK’s governing body for dogs, confirming his lineage – but these later turned out to be fake.
Kelly already suspected that another of her pups, Albie, bought from a different breeder, was not a pure dachshund because of his unusual black and white coat.
She used a home DNA swab kit to test both dogs out of curiosity. When the results came in two weeks later, she was ‘shocked’ to read the findings.
‘It said that Albie is a mix of mini-dachshund, long-haired mini and parson terrier, and that Chester is the same, but also part long-haired standard too,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t believe that Chester had terrier in him and was even more of a mongrel than Albie.’
Frustratingly, there was nothing she could do because Chester’s breeders had been shut down several years previously by the RSPCA for selling unhealthy puppies.
Sonal and Dhani Dave, from Harrow, experienced similar disappointment after testing their dog Neo, who had been sold as a pure-bred akita.
Puppies can fetch more than £1,000 each, but Neo’s sellers were only charging £450. The couple were told the owners were Kennel Club-registered and were promised authentic paperwork by them, although this never materialised.
But as Neo grew, they became suspicious of his heritage. He was underweight for an akita, and his tail was short and straight, lacking the characteristic curl.
A £75 Wisdom Panel test kit, bought from Pets At Home, confirmed that he was only 50 per cent pedigree.
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