Best Dog DNA Tests

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    Dr. Linda Simon

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  • Updated on: 09/01/2020

Man and dog have evolved together for more than fifteen thousand years – the bones of dogs were found together with human remains of the Pleistocene period (14,000 years BC). All this time, man has carefully weeded out the negative attributes – and selected the positive ones – for the best human and dog “cohabitation” i.e. Darwinism/natural selection. It should be noted that man has succeeded in this: the dog, as we know, understands human signals sometimes even better than our closest ancestor – the chimpanzee.

The development of modern dog genetics has led to creating a general structure that consists of relatively closed subgroups, called dog breeds. The traits inherent in each breed can be divided into those that define a specific breed of dogs and are intentionally included in the genetic structure and undesirable traits that begin to show up in some breeds.

best dog dna testsImage by Charlotte Govaert from Pixabay

Why Bother Testing Dog’s DNA?

In the last few hundred years, there has been active development of new dog breeds. Dogs have more than 400 genetic breeds, with significant morphological and behavioral diversity. Strict natural selection has led to shallow genetic diversity and the development of a large number of inherited diseases. Hereditary diseases can be detected and potentially bred out of the species in time, thanks to dog DNA tests. [1]

Determining the pedigree of a mixed breed is difficult, even for dog experts, since there are many more genetic combinations in mixed breeds than in purebreds. For example, two black, mixed breeds of dogs with recessive genes that give light color can produce offspring entirely different from their parents. It has been claimed that even professionals can determine parent breeds with only 25% accuracy based on visual characteristics. 

Only a small number of genes control a dog’s physical appearance – about 2 % – and it is essential to understand dominant and recessive genes. Recessive genes need two copies (one from each parent) for the relevant characteristic to manifest, whereas dominant genes only need one. Dominant genes, such as short black hair, floppy ears, or cubic head shape, suppress recessive genes, such as long hair, straight ears, or a fawn color; found only in some species. Thus, the observer may not easily recognize the breed, whose main characteristics are hidden under the second parent’s dominant genes. Some of the breeds’ features, e.g. the flat face of a bulldog or the crooked tail of a pug, rarely survive the first crossing when outbred to a different breed. Moreover, dominant traits can be attributed to hundreds of different breeds beyond those that come to mind. [3]

With the help of the best dog DNA kit, you can get a much better idea of the breeding history of the selected dog; i.e., the breed of the tested dog’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. However, the test will not help determine the dog’s personality or, for example, the potential for aggression, since each animal is unique and its physical and behavioral qualities are the result of several factors, including genetics, training, handling, and environment.

why bother testing my dogs dnaImage by JacLou DL from Pixabay

Nowadays, genetic analysis of blood samples and smears is widely available. The companies claim that their DNA-based diagnostic tests can genetically determine a mix of hybrid dog breeds. The best dog breed test allows pet owners, veterinarians, and breeders to learn about dog disease pedigree and risk. Like human genetic tests, saliva or blood are analyzed.

The tests’ purpose is to improve pet owners’ understanding of their pet’s health and provide information for breeders about preventative care. For example, the test can determine which dog may be a carrier of a particular disease.

Owners can bring the test results to the veterinarian to discuss potential health problems. For example, a breed like the Boxer is prone to cancer. Knowing the potential risks in advance – and periodically checking with a veterinarian – can potentially save the life of your loyal friend.[2]

The creators of the dog DNA test Wisdom Panel is considering using it to create products that specialize in particular breeds. For example, dogs predisposed to arthritis could be put on specific diets and joint supplements to protect against the disease’s progression.

How Does Dog DNA Testing Work?

DNA testing of dogs is an analysis of the dog’s genetics, which requires a sample of blood or buccal epithelium collected using special buccal brushes. A blood sample must be taken by a veterinarian, while a DNA sample of buccal epithelial cells can be obtained independently by the owner. Several laboratories provide genetic testing services for dogs, but most of them only perform DNA analysis for specific diseases or mutations associated with an inherited disease or characteristic feature. Research confirms that instead of conducting single tests, full-scale DNA analysis, which covers all 39 pairs of dog chromosomes, which contain approximately 2.4 billion nucleotides, is a very useful tool and, in the future, will be the main way to test dogs and identify genetic sequences associated with the risk of hereditary diseases.

Each DNA test contains equipment for sampling the dog’s genetic material. To get accurate results, it is essential to make sure that your dog did not eat, drink, or contact other dogs for two hours before the test.[4]

The DNA samples are then sent to the laboratory. Experts manually extract the DNA and a computer algorithm compares it with data from their DNA database. After the analysis, the laboratory sends all the studied information to the consumer. The processing time may vary; on average, the results are returned after 6 weeks.

Here is an example of a breed definition: 

embarkvet dna breed test result exampleTest result example by Embark Veterinary, Inc.

How Accurate are Dog DNA Tests?

Companies that provide the best dog genetic testing services state that their results are 95-99% accurate. However, there is still some possibility of human error when taking the sample. 

The company Embark has a database of more than 250 dog breeds, Wisdom – about 350 breeds, and DNA My Dog – about 100 breeds. 

Best DNA Test for Dogs Comparison

DNA tests for dogs for home use have only recently become available, but laboratory research has been conducted for almost two decades. Modern scientists claim that these tests are accurate.

What is the best dog DNA test? Several companies have created top-rated DNA tests for dogs that can be performed at home. In this article, we will compare reviews of the best DNA tests for dogs. Below, we will look at the best identification test.

Product

Rating

Link

Best Overall

Embark Breed and Health Kit

4.8 out 5 stars

Price: from $199

Runner Up

Embark Breed Identification Kit

4.9 out 5 stars

Price: from $129

Best Value

Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test Kit

4.1 out 5 stars

Price: from $79.99

Most Affordable

DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test Kit

2.7 out 5 stars

Price: from $68.98

Best for Mixed Breeds

Orivet Mixed-Breed Identification Dog DNA Test Kit

3 out 5 stars

Price: from $84.99 

Best for Quick Results

DNAffirm DNA Dog Breed Test

3.3 out 5 stars

Price: from $83.70

Dog DNA Test Reviews

Embark Breed and Health Kit

embark breed and health kit

This DNA test allows the dog owner to learn about the breed of his/her pet, its origin, health and much more. The laboratory’s database contains 350 breeds and more than 190 genetic models for determining health. Embark Breed and Health Kit is the most accurate and highly rated dog DNA kit on the market.

Key features:

  • Allows for an in-depth analysis of origin and health.
  • The company has tested 100 times more genes than any other organization.
  • The report includes identification of the breed and origin of the dog.
  • Can detect more than 160 genetic disorders.

Specification:

  • Brand: Embark
  • Model: DNA101
  • Weight: 4 ounces

Pros

Cons

  • Provides an estimate of the genetic age.
  • Includes postage.
  • Provides an extensive research report.
  • Complicated results.

Back to the chart

Embark Breed Identification Kit

embark breed identification kit

The most reliable test helps you find out a dog’s breed, origin and more. Get to know your dog better with Embark. This test includes everything you need for taking a sample of genetic material. The company uses an extensive database to compare the genetics of the pet and provides free shipping across the United States mainland.

Key features:

  • Database of 350 breeds.
  • Positive customer feedback that Embark is the most accurate dog DNA analysis.
  • Quick results in 1-3 weeks.
  • Free replacement if damaged.
  • Live chat or email for consultation.

Specification:

  • Brand: Embark
  • Model: DNA101
  • Weight: 4 ounces

Pros

Cons

  • Provides an estimate of genetic age.
  • Includes postage.
  • Provides an extensive research report.
  • Complicated results.

Back to the chart

Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test Kit

wisdom panel dog dna test kit

The Wisdom Panel 3.0 DNA test allows you to determine the breeds and origin of your dog. To take the genetic material, run a swab over the dog’s cheek and send it for analysis. The research results will be ready in 2-3 weeks. The company owns a database with more than 250 breeds. The test can check for genetic mutations. Tests of purebred and designer (hybrid) dogs will also provide a diagram that compares your dog with others of the same breed. There is no need to take a blood test from a veterinarian. To collect the genetic material, you will only need a DNA swab.

Key features:

  • Database contains more than 250 breeds, including 99% of AKC recognized breeds.
  • Helps uncover the genetic origins of your dog.
  • Provides a weighted forecast for making the right diet for your dog.
  • Includes a test for genetic mutations.
  • Provides an extensive pedigree of the pet.

Specification:

  • Brand: Wisdom
  • Model: 07639
  • Weight: 0.64 ounces

Pros

Cons

  • Health check optional.
  • Charitable partnerships with animal rights organizations.
  • Results in 2-3 weeks.
  • Free consultation by phone and email for any questions.
  • Smears can irritate the dog’s gums.

Back to the chart

DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test Kit

dna my dog breed identification test kit

My Dog Breed DNA testing kit helps the owner satisfy his/her curiosity. The test can determine the breed and origin of your pet, and you will also learn about potential personality characteristics and health issues worth paying attention to. The test is painless and straightforward – just wipe the cheeks with the attached sterile applicator and send the material for examination. Soon, you will receive a report, containing information about the history of its breed, character traits and more – on the unique genetic origin of your pet.

Key features:

  • Helps determine the origin of the pet
  • Improves the understanding of potential personal characteristics and health problems of the dog
  • Helps determine how best to train and feed your four-legged friend
  • Simple and painless taking of genetic material

Specification:

  • Brand: DNA My dog
  • Weight: 1.6 ounces

Pros

Cons

  • Checks your dog’s DNA for genetic mutations.
  • Quick results.
  • Health check optional.
  • Database of 100 breeds.

Back to the chart

Orivet Mixed-Breed Identification Dog DNA Test Kit

orivet dog breed identification dna test

The Orivet test will help you learn about your dog’s breed, increase your understanding of the pet’s origin and help the owner better understand the health risks specific to certain breeds. The test report includes a personalized life plan, containing detailed information about your dog’s inherited health risks. The report includes recommendations on how to care for your pet.

Key features:

  • Helps to determine the breed of the pet
  • Includes a report on the 3rd generation ancestral tree
  • Helps you understand your dog’s personality and behavior
  • Informs you about inherited health risks for your puppy

Pros

Cons

  • A health test is a necessary analysis.
  • Genetic testing of mutations for more than 150 dog health conditions.
  • Identifies potential health risks.
  • Consumers report excellent customer support.
  • Results are emailed within 3 weeks.
  • You must order two separate tests to get results for both breed and health status.

Back to the chart

DNAffirm DNA Dog Breed Test

dnaffirm dog dna breed test

Most buyers said that the information in the report was scientific, logical and very clear. Pet owners claimed that the DNA identification kit for dogs significantly helped them make the right decision about caring for their pets. Buyers also claimed that this was the most economical test to determine the breed of their dog.

Key features:

  • Determines the origin of the dog.
  • Quick and painless sample collection.
  • Helps you create an individual life plan for your pet.
  • Helps determine the risks to the dog’s health.

Specification:

  • Brand: DNAFirm
  • Weight: 1.3 ounces

Pros

Cons

  • Inexpensive.
  • Includes two tests for genetic disorders (MDR1: Multi Drug Resistance and EIC: Exercise Induced Collapse).
  • A certificate of your pet’s breed will be attached to the results report.
  • Some report that the test gave inaccurate results.

Back to the chart

What is the best dog DNA test – Final Verdict

The best general analysis of a dog’s DNA is the Embark Breed & Health Kit. Embark provides breed information about your pet’s ancestors and can also determine your dog’s predisposition to various diseases. This DNA test can replace many laboratory tests; moreover, you will better understand the character of your pet.

This test is made in collaboration with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Overall, most customers were delighted with the results, as well as customer service. The research report contains detailed results with clear visuals and diagrams.

“The Embark DNA Suite provided almost the same amount of information as the human DNA Suite. It even included a diagram of the exact breakdown of each of our dog’s 38 pairs of chromosomes!” – Suzie Dundas, The Tester Products.

what to look for in dna tests for dogsPhoto by Scarlette Rose on Unsplash

Buying Guide – What to Look for in a Dog DNA Test

When choosing a DNA test for your dog, you should pay attention to the following things:

  • Depth of research. If you are just curious about your dog’s origin, then the basic tests will suit you. However, if you need to determine the predisposition to diseases and the like, it is worth paying attention to more in-depth research.
  • Speed of research. If you need results as soon as possible, some tests will be ready in a couple of weeks. However, some companies may need months to determine results.
  • Level of accuracy. The higher the percentage of accuracy of the study, the more accurately experts will determine the breed and possible diseases of your pet. Some tests guarantee a level of accuracy of almost 100 percent.

READ MORE: Shots that puppies need

How much does it cost for a dog DNA test?

The cost of high-quality dog DNA tests ranges from $60 to $170 (and higher, depending on the laboratory). The cost is low, since a visit to the veterinarian is not required, and the pet owner takes the sample at home themselves.

Are DNA tests worth the expense?

With the help of DNA tests, the owner can detect threats to the pet’s health and life in time to initiate the proper preventative care and to possibly save a large amount of money on the treatment of the dog.

Knowledge of the genetic characteristics of the dog can help the owner to make a proper plan for nutrition and pet care.

If the test shows the potential to develop a disease, then you should immediately consult with your veterinarian about preventive measures. The earlier you treat the disease, the better the results.

Also, DNA tests are useful for breeders who earn money by selling pedigreed dogs. Breeders can also prevent the creation of individuals who carry diseased genes by removing those with bad genetics from their breeding pools, meaning healthier dogs in future generations.[5]

READ MORE: Raising a Puppy Guide

Best Dog DNA Kits – FAQ

🐩 How long does ancestry DNA lab processing take?

It is challenging to identify all the breeds involved in forming the unique appearance and character of a pet. On average, it takes six to eight weeks after receiving a sample to process a pet’s DNA. Specifically, the time depends on the chosen company and the characteristics of the dog.

🐾 What does a dog DNA test tell you?

Tests can help you find out information about the pet’s breed and breeds of its parents, grandparents and great-grandparents: the parent’s contribution to DNA is 50%, the progenitor’s contribution is 25% and the great-grandparent’s contribution is 12.5%. The test can also reveal information about proper body weight and size. In purebred dogs, a comparison can be made with the average dog of the breed. The tests also provide information about possible genetic diseases.

🐕 Can dog DNA tests help with obedience training?

Dog DNA tests may help with obedience training, but owners must understand that personality traits such as obedience do not depend solely on genetics. The owner, having learned about the breed of dog, will be able to develop a more accurate, individual training program for the level of energy and mind of the dog.

References:

  1. Lau E, Dog breed genetic tests put to the test, Veterinary Information Network News Service, 2012, retrieved Dec 2019
  2. Shaffer, L.G., Sundin, K., Geretschlaeger, A. et al. Hum Genet (2019) 138: 493. Standards and guidelines for canine clinical genetic testing laboratories, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00439-018-1954-4, retrieved Dec 2019
  3. Schmutz, S. M.; Berryere, T. G. (December 2007). Genes affecting coat color and pattern in domestic dogs: a review, Animal Genetics.
  4. Kaelin, Christopher B.; Barsh, Gregory S. (January 2013). Genetics of Pigmentation in Dogs and Cats. Annual Review of Animal Biosciences.
  5. Thalmann, Olaf; Perri, Angela R. (2018).Paleogenomic Inferences of Dog Domestication, https://doi.org/10.1007%2F13836_2018_27, In Lindqvist, C.; Rajora, O. (eds.). Paleogenomics. Population Genomics. Springer, Cham.

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