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Dog Breed DNA Test: Learn About Your Dog’s Ancestry

Veterinarians.org Team

By

Medically reviewed by

Ivana Crnec, DVM

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dog breed DNA test

With the arrival and massive adoption of home human DNA testing, it became a question of when and not if our furry babies’ DNA will be collected and tested. After all, what benefits man should also be beneficial to man’s best friend.

The idea behind Dog DNA testing is slightly different from human testing. We get tested to determine our ancestry and family heritage, while the typical dog DNA testing tries to ascertain the breeds inside your mutt. This curiosity has plagued pet owners for ages – it isn’t really a problem, to be honest. A mixed-breed mutt in the wild tends to have fewer genetic problems due to its genetic diversity.

There is another reason, though, a dog DNA test can reveal gene-specific diseases or disorders. Your dog may be a carrier of one of these diseases or be at risk of a full-blown disorder. Dog DNA will either rule it out or expose the disease condition.

Why Find Out Your Dog’s Breed?

DNA test dog breed

Breed Ancestry

The breed ancestry section of a Dog DNA test result gives the best estimate of your dog’s family. It shows how it might look all the way back to your pup’s great-grandparents. Dog DNA tests like Embark and Wisdom panel uses a proprietary algorithm to make this prediction. The representation might not necessarily be exact, but it is the best guess of dogs your canine friend shares an ancestral relationship with.

Medical Conditions

Dog DNA tests also reveal potentially problematic medical conditions in your dog’s DNA. It often explains the disease, what it might mean for its offspring, and potential actions dog owners can take to help their dog live a healthy life. If a life-threatening issue comes up in the results, a consultant from the testing company will reach out to you personally.

Traits and Behaviors

A dog DNA test reveals genetic variants that affect your dog phenotype. These are often broken down into different categories: coat traits, coat color modifiers, base coat color, performance body size, and other body features, as seen on Embark test result page.

Potential Allergies

Some dog DNA testing companies also screen for potential allergies using specific kits. A dog allergy test is not the same as a DNA test. It is also quite different from a typical human allergy test. This process uses proteins in your dog’s system to reveal intolerances and sensitivities your pet may be experiencing. This information help you better understand what diet and medications to introduce or eliminate from your pet’s daily life. The following symptoms are associated with sensitivity and intolerance:

  • Diarrhea
  • Snoring
  • Itchy ears and ear infections
  • Constant licking
  • Itchy, red, moist, or scabbed skin
  • Increased scratching
  • Itchy, runny eyes

Mixed Breeds Vs. Purebreds: The Importance of Knowing

dog DNA test for breed

A mixed breed is the offspring of two different pure breed dogs. A Mixed breed dog is also called mongrel, mutt, or random-bred. They are generally known as dogs having two or more breeds in their genetic background.

Mixed-breed dogs, cross-bred dogs, and purebred dogs all make excellent companion pets. If you need a dog for a specific trait such as top-level obedience, sheep-herding, or hunting, then you need to go for a dog breed that excels in that area. Specific breeds can also exhibit the particular traits you require. For instance, a Golden Retriever X Labrador Retriever cross will likely be an offspring that like to retrieve and love water.

Mixing breeds might not generally lead to healthier offspring. The truth is dogs, either mixed or purebred inherit genes from each parent. If any parent passes along a gene that codes for a hereditary disease, the pup stands a better chance of exhibiting the disease.

Hybrid vigor – the concept that unrelated parents produce healthier offspring (heterosis) only works when natural selection is in operation. A dog with clinical symptoms of hip dysplasia will not survive in the wild; hence it has a lesser chance of passing its genes to the next generation. In our modern world of advanced veterinary care and constant food, dogs with complex problems survive long enough to produce lots of pups.

On the other hand, knowing what your dog was bred for can help you predict and understand its behavior. Most dog breeds are developed for a purpose – this purpose fuel the drive to accomplish specific things.

At home, our pets still retain some of that drive. If you do not provide an avenue for that energy to be dissipated, it can come out in inappropriate ways. For instance, corgis, a herding breed, may nip at heels and try to control the movement of kids and other animals in the house.

In addition, knowing your dog tendencies doesn’t make nuisance tendencies acceptable, but it will help you understand. This will come in handy when developing ways to manage and train your pup. It also allows you recognize your dog’s normal and abnormal behaviors and spot when something goes wrong. For instance, a lab that bites may be abnormal and dangerous. A terrier that fetches might be fun and unusual!

How Many Different Breeds Can a DNA Kit Test for?

dog breed DNA testing

Different dog DNA testing kits have a different number of breeds they test for. For instance, Wisdom Panel 4.0 and Embark compare your pup DNA with over 350 breeds, including dingo, coyote, wolf, and street dogs. On the other hand, find My Pet DNA Dog test kit compares your dog’s DNA with over 200 dogs to determine history and ancestry.

Dog DNA Kits that Test Your Dog’s Breed

Embark Breed Identification Kit

Embark Dog DNA Test Breed & Health Kit

Get it on Amazon

Embark DNA testing company was founded by two brothers Adam and Ryan Boyko, in Austin, TX, in 2015. Before the advent of Embark, the brothers were deeply involved in research using DNA to determine the genetic makeup, history, ancestry, and origins of domesticated dogs.

Embark DNA testing kits have two options: DNA breed identification and the other for breed identification plus health information. Dog DNA is extracted from saliva collected in a cheek swab, processed, the results come back in 3-5 weeks. The DNA data and interpretation of the results are accessible through the internet on a dedicated website through an Embark account. The company also allows pet owners to share their dog’s DNA data openly for research purposes. As a result, Embark partners at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, have explained the genes responsible for blue eyes in huskies.

The Embark Test compares your dog’s DNA to over 350 breeds, including dingo, coyote, wolf, and street dogs. It uses a custom canine microarray developed in conjunction with leading researchers at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

According to Embark DNA testing company, the breed results are 95% to 99% accurate. Embark analyses 110 times more genetic markers than its closest competitor. As such, they are more accurate and more expensive than others on the market today.

Wisdom Panel Essentials Kit

Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Test

Get it on Amazon

Wisdom panel is a DNA testing company that sequences and analyses DNA data from dogs. The coy comprises professional pet lovers from top to bottom whose single goal is to provide world-leading insights powered by DNA that will help strengthen the bond between dogs and their owners.

Wisdom panel uses in-depth knowledge of genetics to provide better care for your dog. Having spent a large part of the last 10 years developing smart genetic tests for dog owners, it is now possible to get breed and health information about your pups in about 4 weeks.

Wisdom Panel has two options that provide valuable information about your dog’s unique physical traits, ancestry, and susceptibility to certain medical conditions. The two DNA testing options contain the same trait information, ancestry, and medical complication information. While the premium customers enjoy additional health result features like health risks and a follow-up call by a veterinarian. Wisdom Panel puts these features in place to help you better understand your dog and make informed decisions that will help your dog live healthily and happier.

Wisdom Panel test for 350+ Breeds. With a database of 1,800 genetic markers, it is easy to see your pup’s family tree back to his great grandparents! The accuracy of your dog DNA test result depends on the quality of the sample you submit. As a result, it is not easy to ascertain how accurate the results will be. On the other hand, an independent study showed that Wisdom Panel’s testing kit exceeded an accuracy level of 90% on over 200 tests of mixed-breed dogs.

DNA My Dog Canine Breed Identification Test Kit

DNA My Dog Canine Breed Identification Test Kit

Get it on Amazon

DNA My Dog Canine Breed Identification Test Kit is a basic dog DNA test kit that screens your dog’s genetic materials with its database of 95 different dog breeds. This might sound like many breeds to draw a comparison, but other DNA tests such as Embark and Wisdom panel test for 350+ Breeds.

While the DNA results are consistent and able to identify purebred test subjects accurately, some users complain that the results of a tested mutt seem less accurate. On the other hand, the kit is less expensive. Results are a more fun conversational piece than an accurate representation of your dog’s inner secrets.

The sample collection process is similar to that of Embark and Wisdom Panel. According to the directions, you need to insert the sterile buccal swab in your dog’s cheek pouch near the gum and swirl it around for 20 seconds. Repeat for the second swab, and insert both in the donor specimen envelope. Allow it to sit unsealed for 25 minutes to air dry. Close, and return to the company in the return envelope.

The cheek cell samples can stay stable for several months without refrigeration. The company also performs blood DNA test at an additional cost of $20

Orivet Dog Breed Identification Kit

ORIVET Dog DNA Test

Get it on Amazon

Just like human DNA kits like 23 and Me, you can also trace your dog’s family history with Orivet Dog Breed Identification Kit. Orivet is a Genetics company that performs DNA tests and provides valuable information about your dog.

Orivet DNA test will identify your dog’s breed and reveal potential medical anomalies that could cause genetic health problems in the future. It also helps you learn more about your dog’s propensities and breed traits that influence behavior.

Orivet DNA test offers a variety of tests for both cats and dogs. One good thing about Orivet’s Dog DNA Test and Life Plan is that dog owners continue to get reports beyond DNA test results. A feature, “the included life plan,” provides information about exercises, customized diets, and playtime routines for your dog.

However, Orivet does not comprehensively explain the DNA results, as seen in Embark. In addition, health screening isn’t part of the dog DNA test; it is offered as a separate package. It also does not include coyote and wolf testing.

Other features include:

  • Breed-specific game suggestions
  • Nutritional suggestions for your dog
  • Predictions for your dog’s adult weight, and
  • Testing for 200+ dog breeds.

Our Final Thoughts

Though the science behind DNA testing is still developing, there has been notable progress in recent years. Thousands of online reviews on Amazon have extolled the accuracy of their pet’s breed results.

For many pet owners, a dog DNA test is a positive experience. This process reveals valuable insights that help to strengthen the bond with your canine friend.

We recommend the Embark Breed & Health Kit and the Wisdom panel for the best dog DNA test experience. They both provide a comprehensive breed breakdown of the family tree dating back to your pup’s great-grandparents. They also conduct tests for different genetic diseases! Alternatively, if you need a little cost-friendly test, DNA My Dog Canine Breed Identification Test Kit is a good option. It will provide reliable and fast results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is DNA Testing Right for Your Dog?

Conducting a DNA test is not harmful to your pet in any way. If you want to demystify your dog’s ancestral history, have your dog tested. However, the health results you get from the test are not cast in stone. Because the report says your dog is susceptible to cancer doesn’t mean she’ll definitely get cancer. Do not rush to the vet unnecessarily.

Are dog DNA tests accurate?

From the three major dog DNA test companies, Embark Dog DNA Test, Wisdom panel, and DNA My Dog – their results are stated as 95-99% accurate with a bit of room for human error and the size of the specific dog’s breed database.

Can a Dog DNA test tell age?

While human DNA tests can give a reasonable estimate of biological age, no commercial dog DNA testing company currently offers this feature.