Dog DNA Blood Test
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Dog DNA Blood Test: What You Need to Know

Veterinarians.org Team

By

Medically reviewed by

Ivana Crnec, DVM

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dog dna blood test

What are Dog DNA Tests?

A dog DNA test is a simple but effective way to learn about your pet’s genetic secrets. Each individual’s genetic code or DNA contains a wealth of information. Several tests can be conducted on your pet’s genetic material to reveal valuable information about your dog’s ancestry, medical condition, and so on.

DNA blood test might sound exotic, but it’s been used in humans and pets for over twenty years. With the advancement in technology, it has become easy, convenient, and quite affordable. In fact, the cost is similar to what you’ll pay for standard blood profiles. Thus, it is a common test that provides early detection and prevention of genetic diseases.

How do Dog Blood DNA Tests Work?

dna dog blood test

A DNA test tells a lot about your dog. Imagine reverse engineering a video game source code. If you find a line of code that solves a puzzle, you can discern that the video game includes puzzle solving. In the same vein, if you find codes that execute a jumping and climbing function. You can intuit that the game might also contain other action elements.

A dog DNA test can do this by looking at your DNA and determining what “functions” it exposes in your pet’s genetic code. This is the reason why dog DNA tests can reveal your pup’s lifestyle and health information.

Dog DNA testing companies store DNA retrieved from millions of dogs tested. By matching your pet’s DNA against the DNA patterns of other dogs in their breed database, they can determine if your pet shares unique sequences – showing that your dog has an ancestor somewhere. This opens up one of the biggest services offered by Embark; finding your dog’s relatives – from siblings to distant relatives.

What can DNA Blood Tests Test for?

dna blood test for dog

DNA blood test is an essential healthcare tool that reveals vital information about your dog’s body. It can confirm whether your pets have a hereditary disease like hip dysplasia, hereditary epilepsy, or hypothyroidism.

A genetic test can also reveal whether your dog will eventually develop a (hereditary) disease. Dog DNA tests can analyze specific genetic markers in your dog’s genes associated with a disease condition. This information is used to predict whether your dog is at risk of developing this health condition.

Cheek Swab Vs. Blood Test: What’s the Difference?

dna dog blood testing

If you plan on doing a DNA test for your dog, and probably wondering if the process will hurt? The answer is pretty simple, “probably not.” Most dog DNA tests are conducted using cheek (or buccal) cells collected with a painless swab.

In a blood test, the process of collecting blood is not as painless as a swab because of the use of the needle. Your dog might have a low tolerance for pain, causing him to cry out in pain. Aside from that, dog DNA blood tests are preferable for the following reasons;

  • It is a fast and quick procedure.
  • Clean blood samples are collected in a proper tube with minimal chance of contamination
  • The blood samples are visible.

However, if your dog has recently had a blood transfusion, the test results of the blood drawn might not be accurate. Although, the chance of this happening is rare.

The pros of swab samples are:

  • It does not employ the use of needles; as such, the skin is not punctured.
  • The process is quick and non-invasive.
  • Sample collected are good for a longer time than blood.
  • It is more affordable.

However, bacteria can attack the swabs if not correctly stored. And since the sample is not visible, there is no way to verify DNA is present.

DNA extracted from your dog’s blood sample is exactly the same collected from your dog’s cheeks. When both are analyzed, the result is going to be the same. Both have advantages and disadvantages; from a practical perspective, you will get reliable test results from both.

Dog DNA Blood Test: Professional Mars Wisdom Panel

With millions of mixed-breed pets in the U.S., reliable breed ancestry information is critical for your canine friends’ training, nutrition, and healthcare. Knowing the breed mix in your dog ensures targeted care and sometimes lifesaving information.

Mars Veterinary launched the next evolution of canine DNA test – Wisdom Panel® 3.0, by expanding the number of breeds to 250+ to include all the breeds and varieties recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). While also providing a potentially lifesaving test with a Multi-Drug Resistance 1 (MDR1) genetic mutation test.

The MDR1 gene stimulates the production of a protein called P-glycoprotein. This drug transport pump plays a role in inhibiting drug distribution and absorption to the brain and enhance the elimination of drugs used in dogs. It is reported that dogs with MDR1 mutation will adversely react to some common drugs. Therefore, pet owners need to visit their vet with the MDR1 Results for the best possible care. MDR1 mutation in dogs was discovered by Washington State University and licensed to Mars Veterinary for use in Wisdom Panel DNA tests.

Pros

  • The test results are made available within 2 to 3 weeks of receiving your DNA sample and have an average accuracy of 90 percent.
  • Mars Wisdom Panel screens your dog DNA against a database that includes all the AKC-recognized breeds; thus, you will be getting an accurate representation of your dog breed mix and ancestry.
  • The high-quality DNA needed for processing can be collected from a small sample of blood.
  • The test result is a comprehensive report that contains your dog’s breed identification analysis, adult weight range prediction, and susceptibility to genetic diseases.

Cons

  • Dog parents cannot collect DNA samples without the help of a vet.

Cost

  • The price of the Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel DNA Test Kit is $119.95

Expected Results

According to Mars Veterinary, the results of the DNA analysis will be ready in two to three weeks. It will contain a customized and detailed report that shows your dog’s breed identification analysis, adult weight range prediction, and susceptibility to medical diseases. With this information, it becomes easy to create a targeted wellness plan for your dog.

The Bottom Line

Mars Veterinary aims to provide quality information regarding the health and wellness of your canine friend. With the introduction of the MDR1 testing in the new Wisdom Panel® 3.0 test, dog parents now have a DNA testing tool that is more advanced than most other dog DNA kits in the market. This means a higher level of accuracy and better results to draw your dog health plans.

At Home Dog DNA Test Options

Embark Dog DNA Test

Embark Dog DNA Test Breed & Health Kit

Get it on Amazon

Embark is a dog DNA testing company founded by brothers who are dog genetics researchers. The company provides genetic testing services for dogs, with reports containing health, family tree, and the popular relative founder feature.

Embark is the most popular dog DNA testing kit with pet owners on Amazon. It is worth the slightly higher price tags for its detailed reports and larger database than other testing kits on the market.

Embark uses a research-grade genotyping platform developed by leading researchers in the Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The test screens your dog DNA with a database containing over 350 breeds. It also tests for over 200+ common genetic health problems, including glaucoma, dilated cardiomyopathy, and MDR1 drug sensitivity.

The turnaround time for results is 2-4 weeks. It is a percentage breakdown of your dog DNA and a report of any genetic relatives of your dog within Embark’s breed database. The Embark Dog DNA Test, Breed & Health Kit, and Canine Genetic Health Screening cost $159.00. It is arguably the best dog DNA test on the market today.

Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test

Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Test

Get it on Amazon

This is the second most popular dog DNA testing kit among pet owners on Amazon. The company comprises leading geneticists and veterinarians whose goal is to help dog parents better understand their dogs by providing insights derived from cutting-edge research powered by DNA.

Wisdom Panel like Embark have a large breed database. It screens submitted samples with over 350 breeds, and types of dogs, including all AKC-recognized breeds. It goes further; samples are also screened for 25 different potential genetic diseases, including MDR1 and exercise-induced collapse.

The information provided is vital to determine what drugs and procedures are safe for your pup. Wisdom Panel results can be used to obtain a certification for purebred and certification that your designer mixed-dog is a true 50/50 hybrid of two purebred dogs. Users claim breed identification test results generally come back around 2 to 3 weeks. Not bad for a DNA testing process that reveals valuable information about your pup. The Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test price starts at $79.99.

DNA My Dog Breed ID Test Kit

DNA My Dog Canine Breed Identification Test Kit

Get it on Amazon

If you need a relatively inexpensive, accurate, at-home dog DNA assessment kit, DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test Kit fits the bill. It is a basic DNA testing kit that screens your pup’s genetic material against its database of 95 different dog breeds. This is not a lot compared to Embark and Wisdom Panel with 350+ breeds in their database.

Although you will get information on your dog’s personality traits, dominant breeds, and health-related concerns, it pales in comparison to trait and breed information provided by Wisdom Panel and Embark testing kits. But, at a reduced price thus, the tradeoff might be worth it.

DNA My Dog’s 95 different dog breed database also means you won’t be getting the same level of accuracy and details as provided by Embark, Orivet, and Wisdom Panel. Some users complain results might be a little inaccurate. If you are on a budget, this is an inexpensive, alternative testing kit. The DNA My Dog Breed ID Test Kit costs $68.48.

Orivet Dog DNA Test

ORIVET Dog DNA Test

Get it on Amazon

Orivet DNA test has two options, one for health screening and the other for dog breed identification. Each comes with a personalized life plan feature that shares valuable information with dog parents throughout life. Because of the cost of each test, it is advisable to choose one of the two (or opt for the Embark all-in-one test). However, if your goal for testing is only health screening, Orivet’s Dog DNA Health Screen provides better value than Wisdom Panel and Embark.

Alternatively, if you are only interested in breed information, consider Orivet’s Mixed-Breed Dog Identification Test. It is more expensive than DNA My Dog but far more accurate because of its large database that houses many recognized and developing breeds. Orivet Dog DNA Tests kit price starts at $145.00.

Our Final Thoughts

Whatever results you receive from the DNA blood test or cheek swab test, don’t be over-worried. Do not make life and death decisions based on a health report that could be overstated or misleading.

For instance, research may reveal a gene mutation might cause cancer in Boxers and does not state the same for a Coonhound. However, this mutation could appear in a Coonhound’s report, suggesting the dog is at risk of cancer.

As a result, we advise that you discuss all your dog’s DNA result health concerns with a vet for clarification. The top dog DNA testing companies have vets who can offer expert advice and ease your mind about the actual risks for your pet.

In all, Embark and Wisdom Panel are the canine DNA test industry leaders because of the size of their database, detailed reports, and after result support service. If you have a low budget but could still want to demystify your dog’s inner secrets, consider the DNA My Dog test kit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which dog DNA test kit is most accurate?

Embark’s breed database houses most dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. According to Embark, its dog DNA tests are 95% to 99% accurate. It also analyses 110 times more genetic markers than its closest competitor. Thus, Embark results are more granular.

Is Embark DNA test kit worth it?

In terms of detailed analysis, Embark is superior to Mars, especially the health screening test. On the other hand, Mars is faster and has a lower cost of delivery when compared to Embark. However, if the timing is not a constraint. Embark provides the most informative, comprehensive, and interesting result.

How do DNA testing companies check for genetic diseases in dogs?

A gene test utilizes polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which is a direct measurement of genotype. PCR can be run at any age, regardless of age or onset of a genetic disease. It is possible to identify the carrier, affected, and genetically normal animals with a genotype.