Test Your Dog’s DNA

Why should humans be the only ones to test their DNA in order to discover their family trees? Shouldn’t ALL family members be tested? After all, your dog is practically a family member also, right?

Seriously, several companies are now offering DNA test kits for dogs. With a simple cheek swab, you reportedly can identify your pet’s canine ancestry, including from wolf, coyote, or village dog ancestry.

Here is a quote from Embark, one of the companies selling a $129 US canine DNA test kit on Amazon:

“FAMILY TREE AND ANCESTRY: The Embark Dog DNA Test will tell you your dog’s family tree all the way back to great grandparents. Embark also shows other dogs of similar breed mix to your pup. You can explore their profiles and photos and see how much they resemble your dog.

“DISCOVER YOUR DOG’S RELATIVES: Find and connect with other dogs that share DNA with yours, including distant and close relatives. Only Embark will give you a percentage of shared DNA between your dog and others that have been tested with Embark. Doggy DNA Relative Finder included with purchase.

“HEALTHY AGING: Embark tests for over 165 diseases. With our comprehensive genetic testing, you can better plan for healthy aging, with information on everything from genetic diseases to drug sensitivities. Keep your dog healthy longer by testing for genetic diseases that occur later in life including glaucoma, degenerative myelopathy, and dilated cardiomyopathy, three of the most common adult-onset diseases in dogs.”

I don’t have a dog so I cannot easily test this myself. I guess I could “borrow” a dog but I don’t have easy access to one. If you do test your pet’s DNA, please post a comment below to describe the results and your satisfaction (or lack of satisfaction) with the testing process. Do you believe the test was accurate?

21 Comments

I know someone who did this and tells everyone her dog’s pedigree down to the 1/16. Me? I don’t need a test to know that my dog is 100% pure love.

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RoseMary N Starling April 25, 2019 at 2:26 pm

Our home association requires pet DNA testing for the main reason that people do not dispose of their pet’s waste when walking them in the neighborhood. 1st offense:Warning, next offense $100 fine. There has been a run on little green bags at PetSmart, and our neighborhood is so much nicer!

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    What a waste of money just to catch poop offenders

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    It is not a waste of money. I live in England and we have a problem with dog poo! Anything that fines the owners is worthwhile, as far as I’m concerned. Cats are far more civilized and tidy, which is why most people I know have cats, and none have dogs.

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Surely you jest! How about cats?

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I would think that unless you’re a breeder who tests its own dogs, you really couldn’t be sure results for your adopted dog with no papers are “accurate.” We humans are more fortunate to have traditional records to correlate with DNA testing results. Most breeders keep in-depth genealogical records, so there probably wouldn’t be any real “surprises” in their dogs’ results.

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RoseMary N Starling April 25, 2019 at 4:36 pm

No jest. Yes, Cats also. However cats tend to be a little neater with their habits by attempting to cover up their waste. On another note: dog feces have harmful germs which when sniffed by other dogs, can make them sick. One of the first questions vets ask an owner with a sick pet is whether the animal has been in a dog park lately. Guess we’ve worn out these comments!

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    Sarah and RoseMary; ‘Cats are far more civilized and tidy, which is why most people I know have cats, and none have dogs.’ and ‘Yes, Cats also. However cats tend to be a little neater with their habits by attempting to cover up their waste.’

    I’m taking issue with those statements. Cats tracking fecal bacteria on your counters, tables, upholstery and beds – not my idea of civilized OR tidy for that matter. Cats digging in a litterbox that houses waste is disgusting. Watch a dog.. they never “step” in it. LOL

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My step-son tested his mutt because he was tired of people asking what kind of dog he was.
Also, in many towns and counties, pit bulls or pit mixes are banned. DNA testing would rule out that a dog had pit bull lineage.

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Bruce A. Hamilton April 26, 2019 at 1:03 am

Nearly three years ago we got our newly-adopted mutt tested with marsveterinary.com’s Wisdom Panel. They show breed makeup results going back to the 8 great-grandparents. In our case they showed 3/8 Labrador, 1/4 Golden Retriever, 1/8 boxer, 1/8 blue heeler, and 1/8 unknown mix. They have not offered us any retests or refinements since then.

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We recently tested our adopted stray pup with Wisdom Health. Our main reasons were to have an idea about her potential size, plan training strategies and determine potential health risks. Now, this puppy looked 100% black lab to us! And we’ve had black labs, so we knew what they looked like. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Poodle 25% (my husband still hasn’t recovered), American Staffordshire 25%, Golden Retriever 12.5% and the rest was just TNTC. I was disappointed in this last grouping because it was 37.5% meaning more than 1/3 of our pup was anyone’s guess. The results answered our questions and provided interesting conversations. And Linda H. is right; regardless, our dogs are “100% pure love”!

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    My daughter had her 2 year old dog’s DNA tested a few month’s ago. I really didn’t think that it would reveal anything special about the dog except what breed (s) she might be. They adopted the dog when she was a 6 month old puppy through a rescue organization in S.C. Dog appeared in pictures to be a full size black lab. They had lost their chocolate lab a few months prior so were hoping to adopt another lab. They drove to ME from MA to meet the rescue truck dropping the dogs off on a cold snowy winter night. My daughter was very curious as to what breed Piper really was because she only weighed 34 lbs and never got to full blown lab size. Everywhere they went people thought she was a lab puppy because she was small and all black. DNA testing was done and the results were interesting. My daughter used a company called Wisdom Panel and results came back as follows: 25% lab; 25% beagle; 25% Boykin Spaniel (the SC part); 12.5% chow; and 12.5% golden retriever. She definitely fits all the characteristics of the breeds. She is a silent stalker and will sight squirrels, birds, hawks when out walking. She will sit in her backyard and just stare in the woods looking to see what’s out there. Boykin Spaniels are bred in SC for hunting and a very popular breed in the south. The best part is she doesn’t bark! lol. She is a sweet, loving, loyal dog for the family. I was certainly impressed with having dog DNA done as it answered questions about what breeds the dog possibly was.
    Looks like others have used same testing company as well. Believe what you want about dog DNA testing but it answered a lot of questions about my daughter’s dog’s traits and characteristics. We love her to death, she’s a great family addition.

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I have heard this mentioned elsewhere, recently; in Peter Calver’s Lost Cousins website. It occurred to me then, and after reading one of your comments, agree it would be a great way if there was ever a case of “mistaken dog poo”!

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I adopted a mix breed rescue dog and decided to test her through Mars Wisdom Panel. Having adopted a number of mixed breeds over the years, I learned a long time ago that you need to train the dog as if it was whatever pure breed it most resembles. Behavior is inherited in dogs to a large degree and what works for a doberman-shepherd mix is all wrong for a collie-lab-golden mix. My new dog is a huskey mix but, other than the coloring and blue/brown eye mix, did not physically resemble a huskey. The DNA showed she is more field lab than anything else (with Siberian huskey and golden retriever in her background, along with some smaller companion dog breed). My sister has a purebred field lab (who are more active and slim that the regular lab and are used for hunting upland game rather than as a water retriever). Zima definitley has many of the character traits of the field lab. That has helped me with structuring her training, keeping in mind the huskey part sometimes needs something very different!
The downside to DNA testing is your homeowner’s insurance company’s restrictions on owning certain breeds they consider to be high risk for bite claims. I never would have tested my dobe-shepherd mix, for example. Allstate does not permit me to have either of those breeds. It was much easier just to tell my agent she was an unknown mix, which was true. Without DNA (not available back then), I really did not know for certain what her mix was. Once that DNA test result is out there, and your dog bites someone, you may regret having done the test.

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I like the poo tracing idea….. not the insurance qualification….. I tested as one of my Bolognese did not look like a real Bolognese. Turns out he was 50% Bolognese, 12.5% chihuahua 12.5% Maltese 12.5% Bichon Frise 12.5% Breed Groups – sporting, hunting. (guess this is where he got his long legs) now I have to decide whether to report this to the American Bolognese group as the breeder is still selling Bolognese????

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I adopted a funny looking mixed breed dog and used Wisdom Panel to test his DNA. The results were 50% dachshund, 37.5% schnauzer and 12.5% miniature poodle. Now I know why he has the short legs of a dachshund, the beard of a schnauzer, and the curly hair of a poodle!

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We also tested our 2 rescues with Wisdom Panel about 3 years ago. It helped with the almost-daily question, “What kind are they?”
It also helped tremendously to be able to research health/disease predisposition associated with their breeds as I make their food, and certain ingredients can be helpful and others harmful.
Plus, it’s a fun conversation topic, especially among those who know I enjoy people-genealogy!

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We adopted a puppy from the local humane society and while my granddaughter was working for a local vet (she is now in Ireland getting her vet degree) we had Margi’s DNA done. She is half Corgi & the other half is Austrailian cattle dog & Border Collie.
Lucille

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Responsible dog breeders do genetic testing for various inherited diseases, but I can’t imagine “DNA breed” testing to trace ancestors would be any more accurate than DNA people ancestors based on junk family trees such as Ancestry DNA. Probably even less. My take: if you have $129 to toss around, your local animal shelter or favorite breed rescue can make much better use of the money.

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Noél Nicklas Emswiler April 26, 2019 at 2:13 pm

Because we were curious about the breeds in our mixed breed babies, we tested with the Wisdom Panel a number of years ago. However, we adopted a new baby 2 years ago we used both Wisdom and Embark. Personally, I found the results from Embark more detailed and the relatives feature is interesting.

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Dog DNA tests can be great. If you’re looking to find out what breeds are in your dog, they can be very insightful. So long as they’re mix isn’t too messy. If you want to find out about their genetic health, you need to be careful. This blog post discusses the accuracy of home DNA tests for dogs: https://dogsciencesays.com/are-dog-dna-tests-accurate/

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