Best Dog DNA Tests – Are they accurate and do they work?

best dog dna tests
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    Most cross breed dogs that are bought from reputable breeders will come with proof of their puppy parentage. In our case we knew what Rosie was born from a Cavalier King Charles mother and a Toy Poodle father, as we were shown paperwork for both pedigrees and were presented with a health certificate/guarantee. We were in no doubt at all that Rosie was a bona fide F1 Cavapoo.

    The best dog DNA tests allow you to understand your dog’s genetics through breed identification. Some dog DNA tests will even inform you of any future medical conditions and health risks that your pet pooch may be potentially prone to.

    A cross breed dog will generally have pedigree parents from two different breeds. Mixed breed dogs, however, are often those that are mixed with three or more breeds. This is often the case with dogs that find their forever homes through animal rescues or shelters, where the exact lineage of the dog is unknown – this is where a dog DNA test can be most helpful.

    After all, for most owners, finding out where their dog comes from allows them to understand their behavior, enables them to adapt their lifestyles to their dog’s personality and helps to strengthen the bond between human and dog.

    But despite dog DNA testing becoming more common practice there are actually very few companies offering this genetic testing service. Here we will tell you the best places to purchase your dog DNA testing kit from and which of those on the market are most likely to give you the most accurate information.

    Our top 4 best dog DNA tests are:

    The best DNA test kits for dogs

    If you are looking for a dog DNA kit then the best places to browse are Amazon and Chewy as they cater for a variety of different budgets and needs. From health screening to a breakdown of your dog’s family tree (going back as far as great grandparents), these DNA tests look at genetic markers to not only determine the breed makeup but personality traits and genetic conditions associated with your dog.

    Here we review the top 4 best dog DNA tests.

    Wisdom Panel Essential

    Wisdom Essential dog DNA Test

    What I like most about this popular dog DNA test kit is that although it is one of the most affordable, it does not scrimp when it comes to testing, as it can uncover your dog’s breed mix down to 1%. And, not only does it test for 350+ breeds & varieties (including Coyote and Wolf), but it also boasts the world’s largest dog DNA database.

    It is so simple to use – you just swab your pup’s cheek, and post it back to the lab in a pre-paid envelope. The details of your dog’s ancestry will then be sent to you within a 2-4 week period!

    Wisdom Panel Essential tests for 29 potential medical complications (including the MDR1 test), as well as 39 genetic traits and has an accuracy rate of 93%. It can even predict your puppies potential weight as well as coat colors, pattern and fur type.

    For those who want even more reassurance, then for slightly more money, you can purchase the Wisdom Panel Premium dog DNA test from Chewy that offers all of the above plus an additional 180+ mutation tests.

    Pros

    • Highly affordable with quick and easy to understand canine DNA results
    • Tests over 350+ breeds including Coyote, Mexican Street dog and Wolf
    • 210 genetic health tests from drug sensitivities to genetic diseases
    • Ancestry results go back to great-grandparents
    • Donates a proportion of the test proceeds to charity

    Cons

    • Wisdom Panel Essential tests for fewer genetic markers than others currently on the market

    Embark Breed & Genetic Ancestry Discovery Dog DNA Test Kit

    Embark Breed and Genetic Ancestry dog DNA Test

    When it comes to learning about your dog’s ancestry, the Embark Breed Identification & Genetic Ancestry Dog DNA Test, not only maps your furry friends family tree back 4 generations, but can match you with other other canine companions that share your dog’s DNA!

    By simply taking a quick cheek swab, this DNA test can analyze over 200,000 genetic markers, allowing you to understand the breed makeup of your dog. The Embark dog DNA test can be used across 350 breeds, and not only helps with mixed breed identification, but can provide information about the health risks associated with them.

    This dog DNA test screens for over 200 genetic health conditions including glaucoma, MDR1 and degenerative myelopathy, allowing you to prepare a life plan for your pooch. Results are received through a personalized dashboard within a 2-4 week period, which you can either print or share with your family and friends.

    Although the Embark DNA kit is more expensive than other tests, it uses uses a research-grade genotyping platform that was created in partnership with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, and is widely trusted by veterinary experts.

    Pros

    • Tests over 350+ breeds
    • Health screens for over 200,000 genetic problems (twice as many as most competitors)
    • Ancestry results go back to great-grandparents
    • Includes a relative finder, matching your dog’s DNA to possible family members
    • Online results that are easy to share
    • Donates a proportion of the test proceeds to charity

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Difficult to interpret results (although live chat is available)

    DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test

    DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test

    If you want to satisfy your canine curiosity by understanding the genetic makeup of your dog, but are put off by the hefty prices of many dog DNA testing kits, then the DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test might be the perfect option for you.

    This budget-friendly dog DNA test kit is intuitive to use and painless for your pooch. Simply swab the inside of your dog’s cheek with the provided sterile applicator, pop it in the post and receive your results just a week later by email!

    Details will be sent regarding your dog’s breed mix (given as a percentage breakdown), as well as information on their associated personality traits and health conditions. It also comes with a fun canine breed composition DNA analysis certificate which you can hang above your dog’s bed.

    Although this dog DNA testing kit is less expensive than others, it only scans a database of 95 dog breeds in order to pinpoint your pooches breed breakdown.

    Pros

    • Less expensive compared to other dog DNA tests
    • Includes an extra Life Plan service for managing your dog’s wellness
    • Quick turnaround of results which are sent digitally
    • Fun frame-worthy certificate
    • Donates a proportion of the test proceeds to charity

    Cons

    • Small breed database
    • No family-tree
    • No health test for genetic conditions

    Orivet Dog DNA Test

    No products found.

    If you are someone who struggles to interpret data then we highly recommend investing in the Orivet Dog DNA test, as this company is renowned for its outstanding customer support and interactive online reports.

    This company offers two types of tests at different pricing points. The first is a basic DNA mixed breed identification test, whilst the second test allows you to not only identify your dog’s ancestry, but also provides you with a ‘Customized Life Plan’, and includes lifestyle, health & nutritional recommendations.

    Like all of these dog DNA tests, a cheek swab is all that’s required in order to understand your furry friends genetic makeup. Looking at 220 recognized and developing breeds in their database, Orivet will provide you with a breed breakdown for your dog. And, if you click on the specific breed it can even show you personality traits.

    If you chose to do the health tests, then Orivet will not only scan your dog for over 150 canine health conditions but will take into consideration your dog’s breed mix, weight, age, sex and lifestyle factors to predict how likely your dog might be to develop a variety of health conditions.

    Pros

    • Tests 220 breeds
    • Health screening available, testing for over 150 canine health conditions
    • Excellent consumer support
    • Results are easy to read and send digitally

    Cons

    • Takes between 3-4 weeks for results
    • Expensive if you require both breed identification and health screening tests

    FAQ’s

    So are dog DNA testing kits worth the price or even the paper they are printed on? Below we explain why it is useful to understand your canine’s genetics and how the results of these tests could impact your dog’s future.

    Why DNA test your dog?

    Whilst many dog owners may know the background to their dog’s beginnings, in both the UK and USA, pet adoption is on the rise – with mixed breed dogs now accounting for over half of the canine population.

    Therefore, the most common reasons that owners decide to DNA test their dogs is for breed identification and to spot potential medical predispositions. This can help you plan for your dog’s future, such as as obtaining pet insurance, before any diseases get diagnosed.

    How do dog DNA tests work?

    A dog DNA kit works in the same way as a human commercial DNA test would. Instead of looking at your dog’s entire set of genes; each company looks at a specific number of markers and their sequencing.

    A computer algorithm reads the markers and identifies billions of possible ancestry combinations before interpreting the most accurate solution. As they compare your dog’s unique genetic codes with the codes of dogs of known ancestry on their database, they are able to predict your dog’s unique genetics and can confirm whether certain personality and physical traits have been inherited.

    How to use a dog DNA test?

    Your DNA dog testing kit should come fully equipped with all the apparatus you need, with most even including return postage as part of the overall cost.

    In order to get your dog’s DNA you will need to take a sample of their saliva cells by performing a cheek swab. This is a quick and painless procedure for your dog, and involves you rubbing an applicator inside your dog’s mouth, against the inner cheek, for a set period of time.

    Once you have collected the DNA specimen you can place it in the provided sterile bag and return it for analysis.

    What dog DNA test is the most accurate?

    For the highest accuracy, you’ll want to choose a dog DNA test with a sizeable reference sample database. As DNA test algorithms compare submitted genetic samples against other samples in their databases to determine the best match, it makes sense that the bigger the pool of samples the more reliable the results as likely to be.

    But whilst most dog DNA tests do not publish their accuracy rates, the results you receive are believed to be pretty exact. Wisdom Panel dog DNA tests, claim to be more than 98% accurate when it comes to determining your pup’s breed background.

    Some owners who have reviewed testing kits have used multiple companies and received the same results for the same dog, hence proving that the results they publish are not fabricated.

    What will a DNA test tell you about your dog?

    A basic dog DNA test will inform owners about their dog’s breed, as physical appearance is often misleading. A dog DNA test will look past your pup’s outward appearance and use genetic clues to determine their ancestry.

    Results of these tests can often be enlightening, giving dog owners a better insight into their dog’s behavior, personality and quirks. For example why their dog barks at birds, is obsessed with water or has a desire for herding animals. They can also be good for giving pet owners ideas for activities, games and training techniques to try that their dog may enjoy.

    Some DNA tests can add further insight, by informing you of the type of genetic diseases that may affect your dog in the long term, and some can even predict how big your pup is likely to get.

    Can a Vet DNA test your dog?

    Most vets will DNA test your dog and will do so in exactly the same way as any of the online testing kits. They will take samples of your dog’s body cells, generally through a saliva sample, and submit them to a lab for analysis.

    Some veterinarians, however, do prefer to submit blood samples instead, where they can be assured that a large enough quantity of DNA is present. Although this will involve a needle prick, it is a quick and relatively painless experience for your dog.

    How much does a dog DNA test cost?

    If you choose to take a dog DNA test in the comfort of your own home using a D-I-Y kit, then you can expect to pay between $70-$170 (£50-£160), depending on how in depth you would like the results to be.

    However, the cost of a dog DNA test, if performed by a vet, will vary from practice to practice but is likely to cost around $150 (£100+). 

    Remember to look out for any discounts especially if you choose to tests multiple pets at any one time.

    Conclusion

    A dog DNA test is great if you are unsure about your dog’s lineage as they can tell you their ancestry as well as inherited and gene-specific health risks.

    But, whilst dog DNA tests are useful (if the information is accurate and interpreted correctly), they can not predict your specific dog’s destiny, so should be acted upon with caution and an open-mind.

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