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We all love our canine companions and want to understand them as much as possible. Whether that’s learning more about the breed, potential health issues or just how they came to be the cutest thing on the planet. Many of us look at a dog’s ancestry as a complete mystery and want to keep it that way, while others are intrigued by that furry family tree. The easiest way to dive into the history of your pooch is by getting a dog DNA test.
Our relationship with dogs began over 10,000 years ago when our furry friend was actually our foe, the grey wolf. Through millennia of evolution humans and wolves created a bond that would influence wolves to change. Wolves became domesticated and developed into reliable hunting companions for mankind. The wolf’s nutritional diet altered, but most importantly they became less hostile towards us, allowing us to form friendships.
Through the thousands of years that the world evolved, wolves and dogs bred together mixing their species, creating mutations and alterations to the dog one pup at a time. Step forward to today and there are between 350-400 dog breeds, with more and more crossbreeds evolving.
As we continue to develop as a species, our curiosity continues to grow! We want to discover and understand more about ourselves and our most loyal family members and companions, our pooches! Herding, having a super good sniffer, retrieving, certain behaviours, or physical attributes are all characteristics that form your dog’s breed and ancestry. If you’ve adopted a dog from a rescue centre, you may be more intrigued to learn more about their breed(s)!
Learning about our dog’s DNA can help us achieve a better understanding of our pup’s needs, health conditions, genetic mutations, and other things too!
What Is DNA?
Bit of a biology lesson here! DNA is an acronym for Deoxyribonucleic acid, an arrangement of two long molecules that are formed in a spiral, this structure is also referred to as the double helix. It can be found in anything organic, it carries all the genetic information that your body needs to function, reproduce and grow.
Genres are small sections of DNA. Genes hold information for certain features your pooch will have, like their fur pattern or type. There is DNA in the nucleus of every cell, in these cells the DNA is sorted into strands called Chromosomes. Chromosomes are inherited from the parents of your pooch, half from the mother, and half from the father.
What Is a DNA test?
Our pooches have unique DNA just like us. A DNA test is used to gather data to discover more about your dog. Some things we can spot ourselves like eye colour or ear shape. Others that could be harder to recognise like which breed or behavioural traits your pooch may develop. Most important a DNA test can help you spot what potential problems your dog might inherit medically.
Before purchasing a DNA test it’s important to know what you’d like to discover about your dog. Are you curious about which breeds your pup is a mix of? Or are you concerned and want to know a little more about the potential medical help your pooch might need as they age? Knowing what you want will help when coming to buy a dog DNA test, as there are so many out there it can get a little bit overwhelming.
How do I use a dog DNA test?
These tests are simple and easy to do. Once your Dog DNA kit has arrived, rub the inside of your dog’s cheek with the swab provided. This is a gentle and non-invasive way to take DNA from your pooch. Once you’ve taken a DNA sample, you’ll need to seal it into a bag or tube provided by the company you ordered from. When it’s sealed, pack it up and post it. It should be sent to the laboratory that will read your dog’s DNA test. The time it takes for the test results to come back could depend on the cost of the DNA test.
What Could a DNA Test Find?
It’s usually a question that follows dog owners around “what breed is he/she?” The majority of dog owners will want a DNA kit to pinpoint what dog breeds your pooch is made up of. Some breeds may be more difficult to find out than others. Particularly if they’re an adopted stray from abroad that has generations of mixed breeds embedded in their DNA. However, a DNA test can always give you a rough idea. Other dog owners will want to check whether or not their dog is 100% pedigree because they may have some quirks or special features.
There’s also another goal that people will use a dog DNA test to find out. That’s to test for a variety of gene-specific diseases, health issues or disorders. Scientifically known as, genetic mutations. Your dog could be carrying an illness, or be at risk of developing a disorder. A DNA test can rule that out, or expose it before it becomes a problem.
Will a DNA Test Diagnose My Dog’s Health Condition?
No. The information provided by the test is not a diagnosis. It’s a guide to prepare you for what conditions your pooch could inherit. Always consult with your vet about what conditions your dog has.
Vets also use dog DNA tests, but they are not the same DNA tests available to the public. Some vets prefer to send in blood samples because it takes a larger amount of DNA as opposed to the cheek swab! This tends to be done, if they’re having difficulty pin-pointing a health condition that is detrimental to your dog’s quality of life.
What is the best dog DNA test kit?
There are so many options when it comes to DNA testing for dogs. This can make the decision process a little bit harder. Some are absolutely useless, while others are more or less on the mark.
Curious about your dog’s DNA? Here’s six dog DNA tests to check out!
Embark is one of the most trusted dog DNA brands and it’s clear to see why. The product was created by scientist brothers after years of studying dog genetics at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
The test itself screens for over 350 dog breeds, as well as wolves, coyotes, and free-ranging “village dogs.” It also includes a health screening for over 200 genetic diseases so you can determine whether your pooch is a carrier or at risk of health issues. The wait time for this Doggy DNA test is around 2-4 weeks.
Once you have your test you can trace your dog’s family tree which even breaks out the breed parentage. However, if you have a pedigree pup, you won’t earn yourself a tree because they’re all the same breed!
When it comes to the presented data, it’s very detailed, somewhat too detailed. Some of it can be unnecessary and complicated.
However, one of the things we love about Embark is it’s community support! Once you have your results, they have a small social scene, where you can find and connect with other pups that share your dog’s DNA.
Wisdom Panel is a popular choice for those who want to discover their dog’s DNA. With a breed breakdown of over 350+ in their system, Wisdom Panel’s Essential package shares a diverse range of doggos that are categorised by their genetic group or dog size.
They have such a large pool of dog breeds, and it will be able to detect the results of some of the most confusingly mixed mutts. You can track your pooch’s DNA back to their great-grandparents and learn about your dog’s ancestry.
The DNA test also scans for over 25 medical complications, like immune deficiency, bleeding disorders or potential reactions to a medication.
Wisdom Panel have spent over 15 years developing the science behind their Dog DNA testing which allows them to achieve around 93% accuracy. The wait time for these Doggy DNA tests is around 2-3 weeks.
If you’re considering breeding your pooch, Wisdom Panel also offers a premium dog DNA kit. This covers 180+ potential medical problems that your furry friend could have. With the premium there is a veterinary follow-up call to help explain and give you a better understanding of what potential issues your precious pooch could experience.
Wisdom Panel Essential is a great price, but if you want more then Wisdom Panel Premium has the addition of the veterinary follow-up call, the 180+ health risk reading and carrier status (of what health genetics your pooch can pass on).
DNA My Dog is a basic dog DNA kit that uses a much smaller database in comparison to Embark and Wisdom with 95 different dog breeds for you to discover your dog’s genetic make-up.
While the results are consistent and able to accurately identify purebred dogs, they can be quite unpredictable when it comes to cross-breeds. The results take upto 3-4 weeks to return and are not as detailed as any of the other tests. In fact, you may find the results more of a funny conversation starter, rather than a representation of your pooch. Especially when your Chihuahua cross has a 50% Bernese Mountain Dog in the mix.
Another key difference between this one and the two previous tests is that this test will only update you when the results are in.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, basic test, for dog’s who have the genetic make-up of standard dog breeds – this is a great option. Have a cross-breed or looking for questions around health genetics? Probably better to choose one of the others.
Is your search more to do with health? Sniff out inherited diseases with The Genetics Lab’s Forsite Health dog DNA test. If you know the predominant genes in your pooch this DNA test will inform you of the issues your dog is likely to have.
There is a wide selection of breed-specific tests to help you determine what kind of support your dog may need as they age. One of the things that we love about PGL is that tests are analysed in the UK. With some of the other tests, it’s highly unlikely that you will ever speak directly to those analysing the swab.
The scientists who deal with your dog’s DNA here are the same people who run the customer service team, so when you ask a question you’ll more than likely be chatting to the scientist who diagnosed your pet and interpreted the results. It’s just like when you visit the hospital, you’ll want to get the diagnosis from the doctor, not the receptionist!
They have a good number of comprehensive dog breed DNA tests on the books, but when it comes to cross breeding there’s only the Single Test which helps you to test on a specific health condition or disease.
Results take up to 15 days.
CombiBreed – The Kennel Club
For canine caretakers that are more interested in responsible breeding, this dog DNA test might be more appropriate for you. The CombiBreed Health Test from The Kennel Club will give you a better understanding of what genetic mutations or medical conditions your dog (or future puppy) could have. This dog DNA test will be a guide to see the kind of medical issues that could be passed onto pups.
The Kennel Club work closely with researchers, vets and pooch breeding experts to determine what health tests are best suited for each particular breed. There are over 50 specific breeds that have the CombiBreed Health test package.
For anyone who isn’t a member of The Kennel Club but is still interested in receiving this dog DNA test, it’s available for any curious pooch parent! However, unless you become part of The Kennel club your dog’s DNA won’t be displayed on their website.
Roundup on Dog DNA Tests
It completely depends on what it is you’re searching for on your dog’s journey of discovery.
The best tests have a larger database of dog breeds and health conditions to help you get a better picture of your dog’s genetic make-up.
When it comes to researching dog breeds, we believe the most accurate dog DNA test to be Embark. This is due to the extensive science and research that backs it up. Wisdom follows closely behind.
The others in this guide are driven more towards understanding health issues so you know what to look out for, understand medication options, and what procedures to bring up with your vet.
Just learning a little more about your precious pooch can bring so much joy from a DNA test. Have you ever had a dog DNA test done? Was it accurate? Share your stories in the comments below.