Dogs have only been domesticated and bred for about 15,000 years; humans, on the other hand, left Africa to populate the rest of the world over 200,000 years ago. This makes dog ancestry much more clearly defined, with a high level of accuracy to correctly assess breed.
Like children, analyzing the DNA of your domestic companion can help you make educated lifestyle and health decisions on their behalf. Thankfully, many of the privacy- and ethics-related concerns are waived when dealing with your pet; a full genetic profiling is only ever in their best interest.
Testing your dog’s DNA is now easier than ever too. Using a simple swab from your dog’s cheek can uncover a wealth of breed identification and health information. But with so many different dog DNA test kits on the market, it's not always easy to narrow down the best DNA kit for pet owners. So to help you decide, we looked into the top dog DNA test kits on the market and listed them here!
“Most people can guess just one breed present in a mixed-breed dog less than 25 percent of the time.”-Veterinary geneticist Angela Hughes, D.V.M., Ph.D.
For the proud owners of rescued dogs, the genetic makeup of their pooch may be a complete mystery. When a dog’s breed is assigned at the receiving SPCA or rescue operation, it’s usually based solely on visuals alone. As Dr. Hughes says above, this is not a very reliable system to determine a dog’s breed, especially among younger canines.
While many of these tests may not be adequate to confirm a pure-breed status - as this usually requires familial documentation - it is generally more than enough to access local breed or kennel clubs. Akin to human services, one of these dog tests even facilitates meetings between genetic relatives: Embark can even connect you with the guardians of your dog’s kin.
Each dog DNA test kit can provide you with a breakdown of the genetic makeup of your favorite pet. You may be surprised to find that your mutt is a purebred, or your 1:1 mix is a combination of a dozen different breeds.
Many of these genetic testing kits provide you with details on the percentage of wild dog DNA that exists within your domestic companion. This isn’t the ancestral history or origin of your dog; it assesses more recent incursions from nature. This kind of test is more applicable to large, ambiguous dog breeds than small terrier mixes. However, the results may be surprising if they’re included in the DNA kit you choose.
Like 23andMe, many canine DNA tests provide insight on potentially inherited health risks. For some tests, this is included in the base price; for others, it’s an optional add-on. Embark takes this to another level, providing details that rival human counterparts.
Some genetic diseases and illnesses are more likely among certain breeds, underlying many of the health information these health tests can provide. However, some take it a step farther by scanning for specific genetic disease-causing variants outside of your dog’s breed analysis. These insights may allow you to take proactive measures to prevent the onset of illness; they may also help you prepare for unpreventable outcomes, like blindness or deafness.
Like human DNA tests, there is always a margin for error in the estimates they provide, especially for health-related markers. However, the recent nature of dog breed evolution has made tracking their ancestry much more reliable than that of humans. For most dog breeds that aren’t thoroughly exotic, their genetic nature can be reliably uncovered.
Many of these canine DNA tests are primarily based and focused on American breeds. Rare breeds and dogs from other countries may not be included in their databases. If you’re the lucky guardian of a suspected rare breed or international companion, Wisdom Panel may be your best bet to uncover the full nature of your friend.
The only comparable metric between tests is the size of their breed database; this is primarily relevant if you suspect your dog may have a rare or international ancestry. Each test is quite different, with specific goals, options, and strengths. Therefore, they’re not listed in any particular order, choose the best one for you and your dog.
All of these tests take a few weeks to a few months to receive and process. Most will arrive within six weeks, but they all abide by the processing times listed on their respective websites.
DNA testing companies generally price their DNA kits based on what the tests cover. Those that provide in-depth breed identification kits and include health information, like Wisdom Panel, tend to cost in the $100 to $200 range. Tests that only cover limited dog breeds and have test results that don’t offer health information can be found for under $100.
As long as you go with a reputable testing company, these dog DNA testing kits absolutely work! They’re one of the best ways to quickly and easily learn what’s going on inside your dog and help make you aware of potential health issues
These tests are incredibly accurate at breed identification and at offering health test results. They are great at finding the genetic markers that set different breeds apart and alerting you to potential health conditions your dog may develop.
While the method of testing may vary depending on the testing company you use, most follow a similar process. To collect a sample you will generally have to use a swab to collect cells from the inside of your dog’s cheeks. This swab will then have to be packaged and shipped back to the company to be processed in a dog DNA testing lab. You will then have to wait several weeks for the test results.
Collecting the DNA sample from your dog only takes a matter of minutes. Once the sample is sent to the lab, getting your DNA results can take a bit. While it varies from company to company, most test results will be returned in around 4 to 6 weeks.
Depending on the DNA kit you’re interested in, there are a few different options as to where you can buy them. Luckily, rather than searching all over the web to find where the test is being sold, you can always just visit Amazon. Most of the tests featured on our list can be purchased through the Amazon website. If they’re not available there, check the testing company website.
There are many reasons to give your dog the same attention that a family member would deserve. You can avoid surprises when it comes to illness that may manifest. You can also get confirmation on the components of your mutt’s mix. Tests like these can give you a new appreciation for the heritage of your furry friend!