Origins of the Habibi


 Arabic is the most common language of the Mediterranean Region, and where the breed's name originates!  "Habibi", a term of endearment that means, "my beloved", and "Bear" for it's  fluffy, teddy bear-like look. 

The Habibi  is  the perfect allergy-friendly family dog, with a very special job title....

We had a need for a dog that can support individuals and families who are challenged by disabilities. Unlike many service dogs that were purchased from a breeder or rescue and then trained, our breed was DEVELOPED for this purpose by us.  We took our clients needs into consideration as we developed this magical breed.  From health-tested parents to non-shedding coats, the Habibi Bear was created exclusively for our families and their unique requirements. With over 30 years of carefully combining  the best temperaments and qualities, every litter is lovingly raised on our tried-and-true advanced puppy curriculum,  and then transitioned to our certified trainer's home.  She works with the puppies to expertly handle the transition from litter to home life, and begins their specialized training for this live-saving role.  Providing trained puppies for families who want to avoid the early stages of puppy rearing or need a trained Therapy, Service or Diabetic Alert Dog, is our specialty.  Our service dogs restore quality of life by providing unparalleled companionship, independence and lifesaving abilities.  We have 30+ years of happy families who's lives have been changed for the better with the addition of their Habibi Bear dog.  

Our breed is a distant descendant from the Bichon Family, believed to originate from the Mediterranean. They were the result of natural hybridization by local dogs breeding with little dogs brought to the area by sailors. Over the centuries, the Bichon Family has grown to include many breeds with a similar story and background.  The Habibi Bear is also a descendant of these little dogs, and the only line that has been carefully maintained without ANY inbreeding or line breeding to destroy it's genetic diversity.  The Habibi is the result of mindful hybridization, unlike it's distant ancestors with somewhat unknown history.

The Habibi Bear is a beautiful dog that is non-shedding, allergy-friendly and comes in a kaleidoscope of colors; available in three sizes.  For  30+ years our beautiful lines have been painstakingly developed with a small handful of litters each year to closely monitor and record what we have produced. This unique breeding of exceptional quality dogs has been shared only amongst close friends and family members, and available to select homes.  You will not find our exclusive line of  Habibi Bears in local newspapers or sold to brokers or outsiders wishing to breed them. Habibi Bears are carefully designed to remain a viable and healthy breed for years to come.  We remain dedicated to continuing the line and maintaining it as it has been for over a quarter of a century.

Today, we are still small, exclusive and family run. We place our puppies with discriminating families, catering to those expecting nothing less than a well bred puppy.  
We consistently produce sound, intelligent, puppies with strong bonding instincts, that fill the role of service and therapy dogs. Each pup we raise has the essential elements and instincts to make them loving family companions and unparalleled Emotional Support and Diabetic Alert Dogs. To us, proper breeding is much like creating a rare and unique piece of art. This is a purposeful pursuit out of love for the unique characteristics found in our line of Habibi Bears.  

Why create our own breed?
I love purebreds and they are part of our breeding program. Each breed was developed for the same reasons I developed the Habibi Bear. To fill a role. To serve a need a human found worthy. Did you know that all dogs, all breeds, are a mixture of breeds?  Even the purebreds were created by mixing breeds together. Over time, you have continuity and a type. Genetic testing will prove this. I have many purebreds in my dog's background that displayed this diverse background.   The crossing of two or more breeds is called hybridization. The first two breeds are referred to as the 'Parent  Breeds', and the addition of more breeds are referred to as, 'Infusions'. Infusions are chosen to balance the breeding, diversify the gene pool and correct faults.  The resulting progeny can then be bred back to one parent breed to 'set' the line, called 'Back Breeding'.

I had a need that I knew a dog could support. Purebreds have generations of breeding behind them, to perform a specific job, and they have very strong instincts from generations of purposeful breeding to instill those instincts. When I first started out, some of those breed-specific tendencies made it more challenging for my clients as those instincts are strong!  So I decided to develop a purposely planned hybrid to balance out the temperament with both breeds for a great support dog. I found these dogs to score better on my service tests. We placed them and they were better suited. I kept notes and continued to improve and balance the traits for the purpose we had at the time.  The exact origin and history of many pure breeds can be obscure, but not so for our beloved Habibi.  The Habibi's development has been carefully monitored and recorded from the beginning and has a unique DNA all it's own.

Habibi Bear dogs aren’t inbred or linebred, as has been the standard breeding practice for centuries. It’s been a long process of 30 years to create a type without sacrificing genetic diversity. I use genetic testing to select my breeding pairs, combined with my own method.  And we have a breed that’s soul purpose is to provide lifesaving and life changing support.

Habibi is an Arabic word that means 'my beloved', and they truly are our beloved bears.  

As I have grown, I have purposely selected some of these infused breeds to further the Habibi line's gene pool.  Each infused breed was used to help stabilize characteristics we liked, correct flaws, and introduce a new gene pool to the breed--resulting in increased genetic diversity and hybrid vigor.  This is much like the methods used to create many pure breeds we see today, however, the modern methodology of breeding pure breeds does not allow infusing any more.  Most clubs have closed their stud books, meaning breeds are not allowed to have the addition of other breeds into their lines to increase genetic diversity when needed, or correct faults or health issues that can negatively effect a breed after years of inbreeding and line breeding.  This contributes to the increase of health issues in any particular breed, due to lack of genetic diversity, or simply, lack of unrelated breeding pairs.   This is one of the many reasons we chose to develop our own breed. (Now this in no way reflects as a negative opinion of our beloved pure breeds, I love and adore them and have the utmost respect for the responsible breeders dedicated to their breeds, I thank you!)  For more information visit our Hybrid page.

That   Habibi Bear Magic

With the successful addition of our breed infusions to compliment our line, we have made a point to maintain the highest level of hybrid vigor. This is the Magic of our special little heart dogs we call, Habibi Bears.  We have an amazing array of healthy DNA on both female and male side of our dogs, and our Habibi Bears have been carefully developed.

"Of course, the exact percentages and infusion of the breeds together to create the Habibi Bear is proprietary information – 
the end result is stealing the hearts of everyone they meet."

We have improved faults and stabilized positive traits. The original parent breeds were infused with new DNA, and therefore, the Habibi Bear has been reliably producing our Habibi  'Type' for generations, and as such its DNA is unique.   Some of the original breeds in the background are at such a small percentage they no longer show up in the DNA reports, due to the dilution, depending on the generation.  As such, with our wide gene pool, most DNA tests do not accurately identify the breed's genomes and can miss some breeds in the makeup entirely, or associate an entirely unrelated breed inaccurately, many times by matching coat colors. (see article below)   We identify our dogs  as Habibi Bears,  which is the result of the DNA combinations that created a unique dog with its own breed standard.  

We choose not to use traditional breeding practices of in-breeding and line-breeding to produce the 'type' (which would defeat our purpose of hybrid vigor) so our DNA makeup will always register with many breeds in the background, as we are purposefully maintaining genetic diversity.    

The Habibi  is it's own breed that we are proud to be owned and loved by!   

After carefully monitoring each breeding, and infusing the appropriate qualities to correct faults, we have been able to improve areas that were lacking, while maintaining the positive traits.   What was once a first generation (somewhat inconsistent) cross, is now infused with lovely qualities from rare or healthy gene pools, to create a stable companion, ready for therapy, service, emotional support, or facility work.  

As we continue to observe our dogs, we have an open studbook, meaning, we are open to infuse new breed genetics when appropriate, for further advancement of our beloved bears.  Hybrid vigor is our focus, not breed recognition by a breed club. When we DNA test our Habibi Bears, the wide gene pool is always present, which is proof that our dogs are not line or inbred.  

Dog DNA Tests: Mixed Results
DNA tests that purport to identify the breeds in your mixed-breed dog are still a work in progress but the technology improves daily.

By Kathryn Socie-Dunning
On a gorgeous spring day in Montana, I was heading back from a romp in the mountains with my three dogs when we stepped out of the woods into a meadow, replete with song birds and a smattering of open range cows grazing peacefully. My trail companions quickly discovered, to their absolute delight, fresh, delicious cow pies.

It occurred to me, however, that I didn’t know the MDR1 (multi-drug resistance gene) status of the newest member of my three-dog crew, Hap. MDR1 is a genetic predisposition to adverse drug reactions to more than a dozen common veterinary drugs, and the gene is found predominantly in herding breeds. Hap looks to be mostly Border Collie with maybe, just maybe, a pinch of Australian Shepherd, so having this predisposition could put him in danger in this situation. Cows are often given ivermectin as an anti-parasitic agent, and the drug can be found shortly afterward in their droppings; eating these droppings can cause a fatal reaction in a dog with the MDR1 mutation. So, I put a moratorium on the afternoon’s pie sampling, much to the dismay of my crew, and off we strolled into the sunset.

When we got home and I began looking up information on MDR1 testing, I learned that many of the genetic tests for breed-typing now also include genetic health screens, including testing for the MDR1 mutation. I thought, why not solve the mystery of Hap’s breed-mix and get health information at the same time? It sounded like fun!

 – KATHRYN SOCIE-DUNNING

How Do Dog DNA Tests Work?
While some of the early mixed-breed identification tests used a blood sample, all of the products on the market today extract DNA from cells swabbed by the dog’s owner from the inside of the dog’s cheek. The swab is sealed in a container provided by the company and mailed off to the company’s lab. There, technicians extract your dog’s DNA from the swab, and use computers to identify and compare specific bits of it to bits taken from dogs of known lineage.

The genome of a dog contains about 2.5 billion nucleotides (the building blocks of DNA); researchers focus on “only” about 200,000 of these individual genes – or rather, microsatellites or repeating sequences of DNA called single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, pronounced “snips”) that form signatures particular to various breeds.

Researchers must have enough SNPs from enough purebred representatives of each breed in order to have an adequate array of SNPs to which they can compare your dog’s SNPs. The larger the company’s database of samples from purebred dogs, the better. When a company fails utterly to suggest ancestors of candidate breeds that are remotely likely, it’s probable that it lacks enough breeds in its databanks to find good matches for your dog’s SNPs.

Some Puzzling Dog DNA Results…
On the more comedic end of the spectrum, Hap, my happy, hoppy, flying Border Collie/mystery-breed cross was declared by Wisdom Panel to be 88 percent Border Collie and 12 percent – ready for this? – Boston Terrier! Having never even seen a Boston Terrier in Montana in my 20 years living here steeped in all things dog, this struck me as highly unlikely.

Since I live in a rural, ranch-heavy area and the shelter from which I acquired this chap is small and more like a herding dog rescue than a general open-door shelter, I struggled to imagine where Boston Terrier genes could have possibly come from. On the other hand, Hap is definitely the most playful, gregarious dog I’ve known and these qualities fit the personality type of the Boston Terriers I’ve met, so maybe. Perhaps there was a Boston Casanova passing through that visited a ranch at just the right time. Strange things can happen.

But sometimes, the results do test the bounds of credulity. Take, as a case in point, the results returned by DNA My Dog from a sample from Otto, a highly-mixed breed dog belonging to WDJ’s editor, Nancy Kerns. Otto has been tested by several companies (see “Otto’s Results,” below). The two companies with the largest breed databases returned fairly similar results. But DNA My Dog, a much smaller company, returned results that were not just completely dissimilar to the results from the two larger companies, but also incredibly improbable. The breeds suggested are highly unlikely to be present in Otto’s geographic area of origin, and even less likely to be present in the identified combination.

GENETIC DIVERSITY = HEALTH

We have an open studbook, meaning we are open to infuse breed genetics when appropriate, for further advancement of our beloved bears.  Hybrid vigor is our focus, not breed recognition by a breed club. When we DNA test our Habibi Bears, the wide gene pool is always present, which is proof that our dogs are not line or inbred.

When Dog DNA Results Don’t Make Sense

The companies that offer this service have a few standard explanations for results that don’t seem to make sense.

None of the companies would admit that their reference databases are of an inadequate size to accurately identify the SNPs from your dog – but they might suggest that this could be true of their competitors.

All of the companies will be quick to explain that there are hundreds of thousands of genes that are responsible for a dog’s appearance, and that many breed combinations result in dogs who look very different than what you would expect from that mix of breeds.

Also, genes in mixed breeds do not always combine in the same ways within all litter-mates, so size and physical and behavioral characteristics in the same litter of pups can and often do vary, sometimes wildly.

They also explain that the complexity of your dog’s mix will affect the accuracy of the results.


First-generation crosses between two purebred parents are relatively easy to identify, but dogs who don’t have any purebred ancestors within several generations are much harder to identify with much certainty, as the length of the inherited SNPs that are unique to purebred dogs become much shorter with each generation of mixed-breed progeny.

Problems with identification can also arise when there is a lot of divergence within a specific breed-type, like in the case of Australian Shepherds and Border Collies, where you have field-bred lines and show-bred lines. The genetic signatures in the companies’ databases usually correspond with show-bred lines, so field-bred Aussies and BCs might even get assigned to a different breed altogether.

Embark and Wisdom Panel make it easy for consumers to contact them and ask questions about their dogs’ results. I called and asked a representative from Wisdom Panel to review Hap’s results with me and was told that the statistical confidence in the Boston Terrier finding was marginal, meaning there is a high probability this result is not correct. Hap could have 12 percent of something not represented in the Wisdom Panel database (such as field-bred Australian Shepherds), but since this unique signature does not currently exist in the database, he was assigned to the breed with the closest matching genetic signature. I was told that updates will be made to Hap’s report as new information is added to the database.

Otto’s Results
Otto’s results have morphed over the past eight years, with the unlikely Basenji disappearing and a bully breed and Australian Cattle Dog appearing in the mix. Note that the results provided by the two leading mixed-breed test providers are pretty darn similar – and that the results from the smallest company offering this service border on fantasy. (Those breeds are highly uncommon in Otto’s area of origin, and would be even more uncommonly seen in the same dog.)

2009 WISDOM PANEL:
German Shepherd Dog
Basenji
Chow Chow
Border Collie

2016 DNA MY DOG:
Level 3 (20%-36%): Collie, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Level 4 (10%-20%): English Setter, Norwegian Elkhound

2016 WISDOM PANEL:
12.5% American Staffordshire Terrier
12.5% Australian Cattle Dog
12.5% Border Collie
12.5% Chow Chow
12.5% German Shepherd Dog
37.5% (mixed)

2018 EMBARK:
21.3% American Pit Bull Terrier
14.1% Australian Cattle Dog
13.2% German Shepherd Dog
12.3% Chow Chow
10.3% Labrador Retriever
8.0% Border Collie
4.3% Rottweiler
16.5% (“Supermutt”)

Kathryn Socie-Dunning lives with her husband and three dogs in Montana.


Our Habibi is a genetically diverse hybrid, and we have not seen accurate results from the DNA reports of our multigenerational lines 
At the end of the day, our focus is on developing a healthy hybrid that has the purpose of being a wonderful Service, Therapy, ESA, or Facility Animal.  Our dogs are consistently proving to be wonderful in these arenas and we are proud to raise them.   With our wide gene pool, we have rarely seen a DNA result accurately show the correct lineage, and many times some breeds are so far back in the gene pool they don't register.  We have even seen such inaccurate results from Embark showing Rottweiler, Dachshund  and Staffordshire Terrier resulting from our little mini parents of Coton, Shih Tzu,  and Maltese lineage, as well as the same dog being tested elsewhere with entirely different results.  All we could fathom is its picking up the marking and coat colors and matching to a similar marking.   We've been told this can also be due to improper sterilization procedures and picking up DNA from a dog tested previously.   Embark states on their site that the test shouldn't be used to prove breed percentages-- based off of certain DNA markers, it can pull a different breed when there actually isn't a different breed in their DNA.  (see their statement below)  Many breed clubs are not accepting results from these companies due to their known inaccurate results.

Whether the DNA results are accurate, or way-off in left field matters little, as the Habibi is a unique breed that has a wide gene pool and genetic diversity, and the results speak for themselves.  Our Habibi is not a Doodle, or Schnoodle or AussieSchoodle-doodle (some of the names I see people identifying the breed with)  It's a Habibi Bear.  The careful hybridization of complimentary breeds in the background of our lines creates puppies that all have the same characteristics, unique to the Habibi.

There are breeders of pure breeds finding the same odd DNA results (see below), and what we can surmise is it is proof that all breeds are developed by mixing breeds.  How fun is that? 

Hi everyone, we are pleased to offer the most accurate and comprehensive dog DNA test available. However even when testing with 200,00+ genetic markers, a DNA breed test cannot be used to certify a dog as a "purebred". This is because a "purebred" status is not itself a scientific designation, but includes human-defined registration status and pedigree records indicating all of a dog's ancestors were documented as purebred as well. While the term "purebred" is often associated with "single breed", this is not actually the same thing. Embark's DNA testing can generally inform on 3-4 generations of ancestry, which even for registered dogs will in some cases identify some DNA from another breed, often a closely related breed. This can occur for a variety of reasons, and these results do not affect the dog's registration or purebred status, because as stated earlier "purebred status" is not a scientific designation or dependent upon DNA ancestry results.

While we encourage owners and breeders to use DNA testing to learn more about their dog's ancestry, health, traits, and relatives, owners looking to register their dogs with various organizations will need to submit their pedigrees to the appropriate registry body for that certification. These registries typically do not include the requirement that the dog be certified as "single breed" from a DNA testing company such as Embark. We encourage breeders to contact their preferred registries and breed club organizations to learn more about their requirements and expectations for dogs of your breed.

–EMBARK FOR BREEDERS

Let's connect on Instagram @theofficialhabibibear