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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 30346
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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We are in the process of moving to a rental home and plan to

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We are in the process of moving to a rental home and plan to get the keys on Monday, July 16. We have currently ran into a major roadblock because of an issue with our dog. Our dog is a 6-month-old large mixed breed. We were told by the previous owner that he is half Golden Retriever, part German Shepherd, and perhaps some Chow. When I gave this information to the rental company, they said that our dog could not live in the house with us if he is chow. They now want me to provide a letter from a veterinarian which states that "to the best of (the vet's) opinion," our dog is "predominantly" a Golden Retriever and German Shepherd mix. It would be even better if the vet could say that our dog does not appear to have any Chow, Rottweiler, or Pit Bull.

I asked our current vet to provide a letter to this effect, but she will not say that our dog appears to be any particular breed without a DNA test. She will only say that we told her that our dog is a Golden Retriever and German Shepherd mix, but she will not say what mix she believes our dog to be without a DNA test, which would take weeks and hundreds of dollars. We are hoping to move in on Monday, and it is currently Friday evening. I am afraid that we will not be able to get an appointment with another vet in time to have the vet see our dog and write a letter before Monday. My whole family is upset over this and my daughters are on the verge of tears. We were all looking forward to our move on Monday, but if this issue cannot be resolved we are going to have to find another property to rent. This situation has become a nightmare and any suggestions/help would be greatly appreciated. I can send a picture of our dog if that would help anyone, too.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
Please see here: Most important, I need you and the vet to understand that we now realize how unreliable testing is. I feel that your best recourse is to contact an attorney who can buy you the time to move in and possibly make it too difficult for the ridiculous rental company to pursue this matter any farther. Just has attorneys available for you to consult with. Please let me know if you'd like me to recategorize your question so it becomes available for an attorney.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
This vet said that DNA testing of a dog is unreliable. How so? That just does not make sense. He suggested I hire an attorney, which would cost a lot of money. I would like to know if it is common practice for a vet to refuse to give a best guess as to a dog's breed. Is it really that difficult for a vet to give a best guess estimate for the predominant breeds in a mixed breed dog.
Here's a good review concerning the unreliability of dog breed testing:

I would be pleased to give a best guess of your dog's breed. The questions remains, however, will the rental company accept my opinion? Please upload a pic by means of the paper clip in the toolbar above your message box. If you don't see the paper clip you'll need to use an external application.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

The rental company is just looking for a veterinarian’s professional opinion as to what the dominant breeds are that are in our dog, Mikhail. Our last vet would only say that Mikhail is a Golden Retriever mix, and she would only say that she based that on the information we gave her. The rental company wanted a best guess as to what Mikhail is mixed with as he cannot be a mix if only one breed is mentioned. It would be even better if the vet could say that to the best of his/her opinion, Mikhail does not appear to be a Chow, Rottweiler, or Pitt Bull mix; that is not essential but would be very helpful. The rental company asks that this best guess be in writing on the veterinarian’s letterhead, and the letter could be faxed. I realize this is a service that is not provided through, so if this is not possible, I would understand. However, if you could just provide a best guess as to Mikhail’s breed, I would be very grateful. At this point, I am desperate to get any kind of information that I might be able to provide the rental company.


I attempted to attach a picture of our dog. Did it go through?

I'm sorry, Holly, I didn't receive the pic. If you're having trouble, my moderator can help you here: [email protected] I'm sure I can accommodate you. You can then print out our conversation which will have my (hopefully acceptable) opinion which I will digitally sign.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.



Sorry about that. I just figured out what I did wrong. Thank you so, so, so much! This has just been so upsetting to everyone in our family, and it will be so wonderful to have some resolution. Mikhail, and all of us, thank you!

TWIMC - I have seen a close up image of Holly's dog, Mikhail, and feel that he is a mix of Labrador Retriever and one of the many hound breeds. I understand that many lessors prefer not to rent to owners of Chows, Rottweilers or Pit Bulls (American Staffordshire Bull Terriers). It would be unlikely that Mikhail contains any of these breeds.

Michael Salkin, DVM
I am a graduate veterinarian with over 40 years of experience and am writing this as a professional who consults in the Dog Veterinary category for an online site.
Dr. Michael Salkin and other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you! I appreciate it. My best to all of you. I'll check back with you in a few days for an update.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

You are most welcome. By the way, can you tell me what the "TWIMC" stands for at the beginning of your summary of Mikhail's breed. I wanted to be able to share that information with the rental company if they ask. Thanks!

TWIMC=To Whom It May Concern
It's a formulaic way of starting a letter or notice. It means "this communication is intended for anyone that it has importance for." Talk to you later!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I am very sorry to bother you again, but I have a follow-up question. I told the rental company about how I had contacted you and received your professional opinion. However, they indicated that I will need the information to be on your letterhead. Is there anyway that you could put the answer on letterhead and e-mail it to me? If not, I understand, and I will just have to find a local vet who is willing to make a best guess and write up a letter. BTW, is it common practice for vets not to make best guesses as to a dog's breed? My last vet was so reluctant to do so or put anything in writing that I am wondering if I will have trouble finding a local vet to write a letter if it comes to that. We get the keys tomorrow morning, so I am hoping to get past this obstacle asap. Thank you so much!
I'm afraid that I'm forbidden to correspond in any way outside this site. Perhaps my moderator can be of assistance here: [email protected] To say that the rental company is being unreasonable would be quite an understatement.

I can't speak for other vet's choices but I can say that there's nothing in our bylaws that would prevent a vet from offering his/her opinion as to a dog's breed. Vets can act as expert witnesses and do so commonly. I'm truly sorry that you've been so unnecessarily inconvenienced.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you so much for your help. I understand that you are not permitted to send the letter, but thank you so much for your valuable insight!
Thank you for your understanding. I'm still hopeful that this will work out well.