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20 December 2022

3 MINS READ

How Accurate are Dog DNA Tests?

Are dog DNA tests truly accurate? How do they work?

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We know that dog DNA tests have become increasingly popular over the past few years, but as a pet parent, you might be wondering, are they accurate? You may have heard some funny stories about a massive mastiff-looking dog’s result revealing the DNA of a chihuahua. If you were skeptical before that, it’s enough to make you really skeptical. We looked at how dog DNA tests work and how to choose the right company to test with, so you can decide if (and how) you want to learn about your pet’s DNA. 

How do dog DNA tests work? 

Dog DNA tests identify breeds based on genetic markers called single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or “snips” for short. These snips, or generic mutations specific to each breed, are then compared to a DNA database of dogs with confirmed pedigrees.

Because the process is based on snips and not genes (which typically relate to physical traits), this can make for some surprising and often confusing results! In other words, that mastiff’s genetic signature might be surprisingly similar to a chihuahua’s! 

Dog DNA results can provide valuable information not only for looking at fun surface-level characteristics, such as why your dog’s ears flop the way that they do, but also when studying your dog’s temperament and why he or she behaves a certain way. 

In addition to revealing your dog’s breed make-up, canine DNA tests can uncover physical traits (such as how large your dog might grow to be if he or she is a puppy) and behavioral traits, such as energy level and, therefore, exercise requirements. 

Can a dog DNA test tell me anything about my pet’s health?

The short answer is yes; canine DNA tests can identify predispositions to genetic conditions based on specific mutations. If anything notable comes up in your pup’s DNA testing, you’ll want to discuss it with your vet. He or she can talk you through the likelihood of the health issue occurring and other details, so you don’t become unnecessarily anxious. They can also recommend preventative health screenings so that any potential issue is caught or diagnosed and treated early. 

How to choose the right DNA test? 

With all the dog DNA tests on the market, you may be surprised to know that the technology behind genetic testing for dogs is identical. One important distinction, though: the more genetic markers searched for, the more reliable the results. 

Embark

If you’re most interested in health concerns to be aware of in your purebred dog, Embark might be your top choice. This is because they scan for more genetic conditions than some of the other tests on the market.  

Wisdom Panel 

If you have a feeling that your dog may be a less popular breed (or breeds) in the United States, you’ll want to test using Wisdom Panel. This is because they include samples from over 50 countries. 

DNA My Dog 

For a more budget-friendly option, pet parents may wish to opt to test through DNA My Dog

While dog DNA tests can offer a variety of information about your dog’s breeds, physical traits, and possibly even their health, you’ll need to decide for yourself if you’re going to have your pet tested. Before purchasing a test, you might want to ask yourself, what are you hoping to find out about your pet? Have you had your pup’s DNA tested? What was the most surprising part of the process? 

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