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Underdog Blog

A doggone mystery: What is my rescue pup’s breed?

Ali Legros

By: Katie Walsh

So, “Ren” is technically our dog’s nickname. Her full name is O-Ren Ishii, after a character played by Lucy Liu in the movie “Kill Bill.” In the movie, O-Ren Ishii is a Chinese-Japanese-American military brat who gets orphaned and then grows up to be the leader of a Japanese gang. She’s very sensitive about her ethnic makeup -- I won’t spoil the movie, but a gang member who speaks ill of it pays a pretty hefty price.

In any case, it’s a silly name and we thought it kind of worked for our dog. She’s an orphan too, after all. And, of course, she’s also of mixed heritage.

I wrote before about Ren’s life before us being a total mystery (and why I won’t let her off leash). I have zero clue what she was doing for the nine months before Rural Dog Rescue stepped in. But, for me, perhaps the biggest mystery of all is what combination of dogs came together to make our beloved little pup.

Ren’s online adoption listing had her marked down as a “feist.” My husband and I had never even heard of that before. A brief Google search concluded that it’s not so much a breed as it is an amalgamation of terriers, and they’re usually found in the South.

But if you’re going to try to pinpoint exactly what terriers, well, best of luck to you. There literally is no combination of dogs that makes sense!!!

Ren’s body is shaped a little like a jack russell terrier, and she certainly has the energy of a jack russell. But her legs are far too long, and her coat coloring isn’t found anywhere in that breed. So with that coat -- black brindle with patches of white on her chest -- I move on to thinking she’s a bit of a pit bull. Her muzzle definitely looks a little pitty, and people tend to ask me if she’s a pit bull puppy. But Ren’s fully grown, and at 27 pounds, she’s too small and skinny to be any of the pit bull breeds.

So, that’s gotta be it, right? She’s a jack russell terrier/pit bull terrier mix! Case solved! To be honest, when I’m asked what kind of dog she is -- and she’s so curiously shaped and sized that I’m asked at least twice on every single walk -- that’s usually what I say. However, even as I say it, I know it’s not right. Neither of those breeds take into account her glorious, glorious ears.

Those EARS, amirite? How cute is this dog?! I love her ears! But loving them is one thing; explaining what kind of dog they came from is entirely another. Rat terrier? Maybe, but the dog is way, way too small. Bull terrier? Again, maybe, but the bull terrier face is so distinctive that you’d think it’d sneak its way in there somehow.

Adding to the mystery is the fact that Ren’s initial vet paperwork has her listed as a pug.

A PUG! What?!?

For point of reference, here is a pug:

Of all the possible things Ren could be, a pug is the LAST thing. I don’t see my dog in there whatsoever.

It’s been suggested to me that occasionally vets will manipulate paperwork of rescue animals to give them a better shot at getting adopted due to the misconceptions that come with certain breeds, so her pug notation to me actually serves as further evidence that she really might be at least half pit.

But I’ll never know for sure, and Ren of course can’t tell me. For now I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and telling curious passers-by that she’s whatever kind of dog I think they want to hear (a surprisingly effective technique for making friends in our neighborhood).

Maybe one day we’ll splurge for one of those doggy DNA tests for Ren. But until then, I figure I can just ask the internet. So, what kind of dog do you think Ren is?