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Scooby-Doo Decoded


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You loved when we decoded Clifford, the Big Red Dog. So today, we’re decoding Scooby-Doo, the famous super-sleuthing, mystery-solving cartoon dog.

Scooby-Doo is the iconic titular dog from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? He rides around in the Mystery Machine van with his friends Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy as they look for clues and solve mysteries. He’s known for saying “Ruh-roh!” at the first sign of danger and for his love of Scooby Snacks.

If we ran an Embark dog DNA test on Scooby-Doo, what mysteries could we solve about his DNA?

What breed is Scooby-Doo?

Looks like we’ve got another mystery on our hands.

Hanna-Barbera cartoonist Iwao Takamoto, creator of Scooby-Doo, allegedly spoke with a breeder about the ideal features of a Great Dane. Then he illustrated Scooby with many characteristics that are the opposite of what you’d expect for a Great Dane.

“I decided to go the opposite [way] and gave him a humpback, bowed legs, small chin and such. Even his color is wrong,” Takamoto explained.

Great Danes are known for being a majestic and elegant breed, in contrast to Scooby-Doo’s silliness and clumsiness. Nevertheless, Scooby’s anti-Great Dane features and personality just make him even more lovable.

Would you do it for a Scooby Snack?

Gene: POMC

Jinkies, we found a clue! Scooby-Doo’s appetite might be genetic.

From downing Scooby Snacks to stealing Shaggy’s double-triple-decker sandwiches, Scooby-Doo is always hungry. Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy regularly use positive reinforcement with Scooby Snacks to convince Scooby to be brave when he’s scared. As Shaggy puts it plainly, describing Scooby’s high food motivation: “I can’t even get a bite in edgewise.”

The POMC gene influences eating behavior. Scooby-Doo might have an ND or DD result, which predicts higher food motivation compared to an NN result. An ND or DD result increases a dog’s likelihood to eat excessively, have higher body fat percentage, and be more prone to obesity. 

Despite his high food motivation, Scooby-Doo looks to be an average weight—maybe from all that running.

The POMC variant associated with high food motivation is found primarily in Labrador Retrievers. Read more about the genetics of POMC and learn how you can contribute to research.

Scooby-Doo’s dark coat color

Gene: Melanocortin Receptor 1 (MC1R)

This gene helps determine whether a dog can produce dark (black or brown) hairs or lighter yellow or red hairs. Because his coat is brown with black spots, Scooby-Doo would likely have an EE or Ee result for this gene. (Any result except for ee means that a dog can produce dark hairs. If Scooby-Doo had an ee result, that means he would have lighter yellow or red hairs over his entire body.)

Scooby-Doo’s brown and black coat

Gene: Tyrosinase Related Protein 1 (TYRP1)

The TYRP1 gene helps determine whether a dog produces brown or black pigment. It also determines the color of a dog’s nose or paw pads. Scooby-Doo has a brown coat with black spots. Because it isn’t possible for a dog to have this pattern in these colors, we’re doing some extra investigating to find out what might explain his unique coat pattern. 

While many dogs with brown coats have a result of bb, Scooby-Doo’s black nose rules that out, so he might instead have a Bb or BB result for this gene. This result enables him to produce black pigment. It also means that the brown in his coat could be due to another cause, such as the A (Agouti) Locus, which contains the agouti signaling protein (ASIP) gene. Some dogs with “sable” coat patterns have a lot of brown in their coat, as well as some black hairs.

Scooby-Doo has some furnishings

Gene: RSPO2

The RSPO2 gene is responsible for “furnishings”, which is another name for the mustache, beard, and eyebrows that are characteristic of breeds like the Schnauzer, Scottish Terrier, and Wire Haired Dachshund

Although furnishings are not found in the real-life Great Dane breed, the cartoon version of Scooby-Doo has stubble and a few visible hairs on his chin. Scooby also has prominent eyebrows. (Though the only mustache we’ve seen on him is when he’s in disguise.)

Scooby-Doo might have an FF or FI result for this gene, giving him his beard and eyebrows. Furnishings are a dominant trait, which means he only needs one copy of the variant to show furnishings. 

Scooby-Doo has a long tail

Gene: T

Like most dogs, Scooby-Doo probably has a CC result for this gene, giving him his long tail. (A dog with a CG result is likely to have a bobtail instead.) Having such a long tail comes in handy for Scooby-Doo, whether used for swinging or pressing buttons.

Scooby’s high prey drive

Scooby-Doo loves to chase small animals. He constantly gets distracted and runs after small critters, usually to stumble into trouble, leading the Mystery Gang to call after him with the show’s catchphrase: “Scooby-Doo, where are you?”

Scientists have not yet discovered a genetic variant associated with prey drive. However, we do know that prey drive has a genetic component. Certain breeds, including most Terrier and Sighthound breeds, are known for having a higher prey drive than others.

If Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, and Velma were taking an Embark survey about Scooby, they would probably answer this question: Always.

Scooby chases cats, squirrels, and other things that run whenever given the chance, even when told not to.

Did you know? By filling out Embark surveys about your dog, you’re contributing to research that can help improve health and longevity for all dogs. Survey information like this helps Embark scientists make new discoveries, like these:

Find out how you can contribute to Embark surveys and help our scientists do genetic research to help dogs live healthier lives.

Embark health tests for Scooby-Doo

Did you know? In addition to physical traits, Embark tests for 250+ genetic health risks a dog might have.

If Scooby’s genetic ancestry does in fact include Great Dane, here are some of the breed-relevant health conditions that we would test for in his DNA:

  • Degenerative Myelopathy, DM (SOD1A variant)
    The dog equivalent of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, DM is a progressive degenerative disorder of the spinal cord. Because the nerves that control the hind limbs are the first to degenerate, the most common clinical signs are back muscle wasting and gait abnormalities.
  • Inherited Myopathy of Great Danes (BIN1)
    IMGD stems from a mutation in the BIN1 gene, which produces a protein that controls cell membrane remodeling. This is especially important for muscle development and growth. Loss of BIN1 prevents muscle cells from differentiating correctly, ultimately leading to muscle malfunction and damage in the growing dog.
  • Ichthyosis (SLC27A4, Great Dane Variant)
    This skin disorder gets its name from the thick, darkly pigmented scales of skin (“ichthys” is Greek for “fish”) that affected dogs display on their noses, paw pads, and muzzles.

Solve the mystery of your dog’s DNA

The sleuthing doesn’t have to stop here. With an Embark dog DNA test, you can decode your dog’s DNA and solve the mystery behind what makes them so unique.

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Which famous dog should we decode next?

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Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with or endorsed by Hanna-Barbera Productions, Warner Bros Entertainment, or its subsidiaries.

Mimi Padmabandu Contributor

Mimi Padmabandu is a scientific writer and Content Strategy Lead at Embark Veterinary. She has over a decade of experience writing about science and genomics for leading biotechnology companies. She holds a bachelor's degree in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology from UCLA and a master’s degree in Early Modern English Literature from King’s College London.

Read more about Mimi Padmabandu

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