Dog DNA Test: What Is It?
If you’re a purebred dog owner with papers from the American Kennel Club, you probably won’t give much thought to canine DNA testing. After all, you have all the info on file! But it’s a different story for mixed breed dog parents. Those are the folks who may have adopted a dog of unknown origins from a shelter or rescue. For those dog owners, a dog DNA test might be of great interest!
Similar to the DNA kit you might order for yourself from Ancestory.com or 23andMe, a dog DNA test is a simple cheek swab test that will tell you if your nondescript – but adorable – mixed-breed dog has some Entlebucher Mountain dog or perhaps German shepherd ancestry! While it’s fun to know your dog’s origins, that’s not the only reason to consider a dog DNA test kit!
Dog DNA Test: Why You Might Want One
Believe it or not, there are many reasons why you would want to narrow down your dog’s breed identification. Including but not limited to…
Even though mixed breed dogs are supposed to display “hybrid vigor,” or better health than purebreds, there are also breeds with a lot of
many of them have proven to be fatal.
If your dog had one purebred parent or a lot of genetic material from a pure breed, they may be vulnerable to these health problems. At the very least, you are forewarned and may
take some preventive measures if you know your pup’s dog ancestry.
When you know your dog genetic background and have the information on file, it can help your vet in the event your pet becomes sick and it’s hard to
pinpoint the cause. Your vet might look into a genetic disease that she wouldn’t otherwise had suspected in your dog.
We love that puppies are cute and small. However, most puppies don’t stay small and if you really have no idea about your puppy’s parentage, you also don’t know how big they will eventually grow.
Getting dog DNA testing done when they are still a puppy can give you a better idea of their size as an adult. It’s not perfect, but if they have a lot of large dog breeds in their ancestry, they’re unlikely to remain tiny, and vice versa.
What is the Best Dog DNA Test Kit
If you’ve had your own DNA sample tested, you probably had to spit into a vial, seal it and return to the DNA company. Obviously, even the best-trained pooch isn’t going to spit into a container so the process is a little different. Don’t worry though, you won’t have to touch any dog poop!
A dog DNA kit usually consists of two cheek swabs – used for one dog – a swab-drying insert, prepaid shipping label and a detailed list of instructions. However, there are a few differences amongst the three most popular brands.
The Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test
Wisdom Panel Website: Click Here
Price: Wisdom Panel 4.0 $84.99, Wisdom Panel Health Kit $149.99
Wisdom Panel offers 4 different options for Doggy DNA Testing Kits, the Wisdom Panel 4.0 and the Wisdom Panel Health Kit.
As you might guess, the main difference between the two is that in addition to genetic screening, the Wisdom Panel Health Kit also tests for over 140 genetic variants associated with increased disease risk.
The Wisdom Panel 4.0 tests mostly for breed information. However, you can opt for bonus of testing for 2 genetic mutations:
- MDR1 – If your dog has this genetic mutation, they will not be able to tolerate certain medications.
- DNM1 – If your dog suffers from this genetic mutation, they might suffer from the fatal Exercise-induced Collapse.
If you want answers now, Wisdom Panel may be right for you! You can expect to have your results after 2-3 weeks.
Fun Fact: Both products test for Coyote and Wolf genes without an additional charge.
Embark Dog DNA Test
Embark Dog DNA Test Website: Click Here
(Use Coupon Code EMBARKDNA10 for a $10 Discount)
The Embark Vet test is an all-inclusive DNA test. Although it has a smaller breed database of only 175 dog breeds, it screens for over 160 genetic mutations, including Degenerative Myelopathy.
This is the perfect dog DNA test for anyone who’s primary purpose in getting the test is for genetic health screening purposes.
Unlike Wisdom Panel, Embark Vet DNA tests take a little longer, 1 to 2 months, for the results to arrive.
DNA My Dog Test
DNA My Dog Website: Click Here
If price and turnaround time are at the top of your list, DNA My Dog might be your pick. However, we feel the need to mention that DNA My Dog’s database is extremely limited with only 95 dog breeds, and oftentimes, leads to unreliable results.
However, they will present your dog with a certificate (with a photo of your dog) which declares what he or she is made of which is a fun bonus!
Tips for Saliva Production
If your dog drools a lot, getting an adequate amount of saliva on the swabs isn’t a problem. If your dog isn’t much of a saliva producer, you may have to work a little to get the juices flowing. Wave a treat in front of him before inserting the swabs in his cheek. However, do not feed him the treat until you are done with the saliva collection. Always wait at least an hour or two after your dog eats to get a saliva sample. The instructions on your particular kit will let you know how long to wait post-feeding.
Dog Breed Blood Test Kits
Some DNA kits require blood samples rather than saliva testing. Unless you are a veterinary professional, you should not try to draw your dog’s blood on your own. Since these kits are often marketed by veterinarians, you can have the dog’s blood drawn and the kit mailed off while at the annual wellness exam. Blood samples do contain larger amounts of DNA than saliva, but saliva yields sufficient amounts for dog DNA tests. Keep in mind, though, that samples taken by your vet are less likely to become contaminated, and the sample size is adequate.
Dog DNA Test Cost
The costs of dog DNA tests vary. The Wisdom Panel, for example, offers several types of dog DNA test kits. As mentioned above, the 4.0 retails for less than $100, but deals primarily with ancestry, not health. The Wisdom Panel Health Kit retails for approximately $150, but in addition to breed information, the DNA is tested for over 140 genetic issues. Embark Dog DNA test is a bit more expensive, coming in around $200 while DNA My Dog is by far the cheapest, at $68.99.
The Breed Panel
If your dog is of unknown ancestry, how likely is it that any of his or her forebears were purebreds? There are hundreds of existing dog breeds – will dog DNA tests reveal every single one contributing to your dog’s lineage? Turns out, your dog might share types of DNA common in certain dog breeds, although evidence may skew toward a type of canine more so than a specific breed.
Pure breeds came from breeding different types of dogs to develop a canine used for specific purposes, such as guarding, hunting or tracking. In fact, just over a century ago, the English cocker spaniel and the English springer spaniel were the same breed. Interestingly enough, dogs that look and whose names sound somewhat alike – such as the Doberman pinscher and the miniature pinscher – may be completely unrelated. You may receive information that your dog is more of a type than a breed per se, and that’s fine!
Making a Decision
We suggest that you use a DNA kit that tests for the largest number of breeds. In short, you want the DNA kit with the best database. Some DNA kits include the 95 most popular breeds, and based on popularity, there’s a greater likelihood that your dog shares some of that ancestry. However, a more comprehensive database of 250 breeds or more can give you broader, more accurate information.
However, what it really comes down to is YOU…
When making a decision about which DNA test kit to choose, figure out your primary reason for pursuing the test. If it’s merely to settle an argument that Fido must have some dachshund in him, a less expensive test will suffice. If you want the lowdown on your dog’s ancestry and predisposition to disease, spend the money for the more sophisticated test.