DUBAI // DNA testing has been helping police forces track down criminals for years. Now those same methods are being applied to more domestic matters - your dog's pedigree.
Dog lovers can use a simple at-home testing kit or visit the vet to determine whether their four-legged friend is a high-class hound or a crossbreed and, if so, what its exact ancestry is.
Sherine Mankouche, the founder of Dogdna, the company offering the tests, got the idea after wondering about the family history of her excitable three-year-old dog, Rocky.
"We were very curious about what he was made of," she said. "We realised that there was no facility in the Middle East that could tell us what his breed is specifically."
Ms Mankouche decided to set up a company giving people access to DNA testing kits, which are sent to laboratories in Europe or North America for analysis.
Rocky, discovered to be a Jack Russell and Border Collie cross, was the first dog to be tested.
In the past four weeks up to 60 people have paid the Dh450 fee to test their pets, which involves taking a swab of the inside of the animal's mouth. Ms Mankouche said its popularity comes down to people's curiosity.
"Most people look at their dogs and wonder what they're made of," she said. "Vets will tell you they're one thing, and trainers will tell you something else. Now we have a scientific way of telling what your dog actually is."
Briton Scott Woodall was one of the first people to find out his dog's exact breed.
"Some people said it looked like a Pomeranian, some people said it looked like an American Eskimo," he said. "The test came back and it said it was a pedigree German Spitz."
He said he was surprised, as the animal came from the K9 Friends rescue home.
"I didn't go to the dog's home to buy a pedigree," he said. "I wasn't bothered if it was a pedigree or not, I just did the test to find out what it was. I know that certain breeds can have certain health issues, so I was interested for that reason."
The test works by looking for the characteristics that make breeds different, including health problems typical of certain types of dogs.
However, Raimundo Tamagnini, a vet at the City Vet Clinic, said the tests were of questionable value.
"I'm not sure how important or useful that information would be," he said.
"I think people just want to know. They've been with their dog for a few years and maybe they're just curious."
Lukas Juszkiewicz, a vet at the Modern Veterinary Clinic, said he was bemused by people's obsession with whether a dog was pedigree or not.
"It's not important whether a dog is pure breed," he said. "From a medical point of view, a mixed dog, or the biggest mongrel, is the healthiest dog. That's because of a natural selection of genes. Nature is cleverer than we are when it comes to breeding."
However, Ms Mankouche said her tests appealed to both curious and proud dog owners. "Whoever has a pedigree is always proud," she said. "Even the dog looks proud.
"These tests will satisfy both groups of people. It will give whoever has a pedigree a certificate to show off. And it will satisfy the curiosity of those who have a mixed breed and want to find out what's in their dog."
David Thompson, also from the UK, tested his mixed-breed dog but said he wouldn't have let the results affect his attitude toward his pet. "It was just to find out for the fun of it, as much as anything else," he said.