If you’re anything like me, you’re likely curious about your mixed breed’s genetic make up. “Just what breed is my dog?” “Is he a mutt or what?” You might ask. Here, you’ll learn about the best DNA testing kits for dogs that will help answer your most pressing questions.
But before we get to that, let’s discuss some important facts about DNA and dog DNA testing kits.
Why Use a DNA Testing Kit on Your Dog?
As I mentioned above, DNA testing kits help you determine your dog’s breed. Not only that, but they help identify certain health problems your dog is at risk of developing in the future.
Now how’s that for science?
A DNA test that sort of operates like a crystal ball.
I dont know about you, but I find that pretty exciting!
Other benefits of DNA testing your dog, as stated by the American Kennel Club (AKC), include:
- Confirming parentage
- Enforcing pet waste laws
- Revealing hidden traits, such as family-oriented, territorial, independent, energetic, etc.
How Do Dog DNA Testing Kits Work?
We’re all aware that a DNA test helps us determine certain information about an individual’s genetic makeup — whether it’s a human or dog. Paternity DNA tests are perhaps the most well-known DNA tests.
To better understand what DNA testing kits are and how they work, you should first know some key facts about DNA.
Now let’s go back to 8th-grade science or whenever the heck they teach kids about DNA.
DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. It is made up of cool compounds called nucleotides, which are the building blocks of DNA. We could get into what exactly a nucleotide is made up of, but that stuff is for the birds! Plus, that’s not what this post is about anyway.
The key thing you need to know is this:
A dog’s genome contains about 2.5 nucleotides. The markers within the genome are called nucleotides polymorphisms (SNPs).
For a better understanding of SNPs and how important they are to dog DNA testing, read what this blogger has to say:
“Researchers focus on “only” about 200,000 of these individual genes – or rather, microsatellites or repeating sequences of DNA called single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, pronounced “snips”) that form signatures particular to various breeds.
Researchers must have enough SNPs from enough purebred representatives of each breed in order to have an adequate array of SNPs to which they can compare your dog’s SNPs. The larger the company’s database of samples from purebred dogs, the better. When a company fails utterly to suggest ancestors of candidate breeds that are remotely likely, it’s probable that it lacks enough breeds in its databanks to find good matches for your dog’s SNPs.” – Whole Dog Journal
So what does this mean? What is the SNP’s significance to DNA testing kits for dogs?
The important thing to remember is SNPs play an important role in determining your dog’s breed as well as possible health problems he might develop in the future based on his genetic makeup.
It’s also important to make sure you go with a company that has a large database of breeds so that your dog can get the most accurate match.
For more key facts about cainine DNA, click here.
How Do You Perform a DNA Test on Your Dog?
There are generally two ways you can obtain your dog’s DNA. One way is through a blood test — usually performed at the veterinarian’s office — and the other is through a saliva sample.
The DNA testing kits I discuss below use the latter. With a simple cheek swab — as there are tons of DNA found in cheek cells — you can determine your dog’s genetic makeup. After taking the swab, you seal it in a package and mail it to the company and wait a few weeks for the results to come back.
Are Dog DNA Kits Accurate?
The short answer? Yes.
The long answer: The more genetic information (SNPs) a company has, the more accurate (and expensive) the DNA test.
This is why some tests might show slightly different results than others. Some tests might focus more on the dominant and most obvious breeds in your dog, while others might dig more deeply into your pet’s ancestry, giving you a longer-term history.
Here are a few reasons why dog DNA testing kits may yield inaccurate or inconclusive results:
- There isn’t enough DNA in the sample
- High levels of oral bacteria that might degenerate the sample before the DNA extraction process
- Your dog is an incredibly uncommon breed (i.e. Komondorok, Kuvasz, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, etc.) or one that isn’t covered in the database
What Are the Best DNA Testing Kits for Dogs?
Now that you’re armed with a little background about dog DNA and testing kits (hope I didn’t bore ya), here’s the list you came for.
Best Dog DNA Testing Kits Under $200
If you want the most accurate, top notch results, as well as some additional features, it’s best to stay in this ballpark range. It might be a big investment at one time (depending on your budget), but you can save some mula in the long run with vet visits.
Because these tests can predict certain health issues your dog is predisposed to.
This way, you can focus on prevention and decrease the chances of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars for treatment.
This isn’t to say that less expensive kits won’t test for health conditions, but you’ll get higher-quality results as well as suggestions on prevention and care with more expensive tests.
Below is a list I compiled of some of the best dog DNA test kits in the $100-$199 price range.
1. Wisdom Panel Health Canine DNA Test
Wisdom Panel tests for 350+ breeds, types, and varieties. They are able to do this by genetically testing over 1,000,000 dogs, including 18,000 purebreds and 83,000 mixed breeds.
The test also screens for 150+ genetic health conditions. What’s interesting is the fact that mixed breeds are at lower risk of being affected by the most common disease-causing mutations that were tested. However, mixed breeds can still develop genetic disorders
The test also provides you with your dog’s family tree going back three generations. And if your pooch isn’t done growing, the test can predict his weight profile.
Wisdom Panel analyzes your dog’s DNA profile and compares it with signatures from their database, which contains over 18,000 purebred samples.
After your dog’s DNA is examined, the data is then sent to a computer.
The computer evaluates the data using advanced algorithms, which uses information from their extensive sample database. From there, the computer determines how well your dog’s DNA matches the samples in the breed database.
According to the company website, a process called genotyping–which is the process of determining the differences in the genetic makeup of an organism–is used to analyze DNA.
The testing is conducted at a laboratory in Lincoln, Nebraska called GeneSeek, which is the largest, most experienced animal genomics testing facility in the world.
Directions: You use the swabs provided to collect skin skills from the inside of your dog’s cheek. Activate your kit online, Then, mail the sample using the prepaid shipping container to send your dog’s sample to their lab.
Results Turnaround Time: 2-3 weeks
2. Embark Dog DNA Test Kit
Embark tests for over 250 dog breeds – even wolves, coyotes, and old village dogs! Like Wisdom Panel, Embark can detect DNA all the way
back to your dog’s great-grandparents, which is three generations. When you get your results back from Embark, you’ll also get photos of other dogs with similar breed mixes.
With Embark, your dog will be tested for over 165 diseases. These diseases include glaucoma, degenerative myelopathy, and dilated cardiomyopathy, three of the most common adult-onset diseases in dogs.
A cool thing about Embark is that it offers a feature called Relative Finder that matches your dog’s DNA with any living relatives.
It claims to be the world’s first canine relative finder, connecting your dog with other Embark dogs that are related to your furry friend based on the percentage of DNA they share. And according to Embark’s website, all dogs they have tested so far have relatives in their database!
Plus, once Embark identifies your dog’s relative(s), you can reach out to their owner via the Chat function within Embarks platform.
Embark’s lab captures over 200,000 genetic markers, which is “100x more genetic data than Wisdom Panel”. The results include a trait section that has information on coat color and length, body features, and size.
And if none of that is enough to get your tail wagging, Embark is partnered with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, which shows that they are committed to working with top veterinarians and dog researchers, giving customers the best possible experience and highly accurate results.
Directions: Swab the inside of your dog’s cheeks for at least 30 seconds. Activate your kit online. Mail the sample to the lab.
Results Turnaround Time: 2-4 weeks
3. Orivet Dog Breed Identification Test PLUS Life Plan
The Orivet test reveals the breeds that make up your dog’s DNA by providing percentage levels of each breed.
Compared with the other tests we discussed, Orivet only has hundreds of genetic markers of the most common breeds to compare your dog’s DNA to.
What’s unique about Orivet is that upon completion of the DNA test, it will give you a Customized Life Plan, which provides specific information and insight of important areas of your dog’s life including activity, nutrition, common health problems and recommended ongoing care so that you can take better care of your canine companion.
You’ll receive your dog’s results on an online account where you can update your dog’s records such as weight, health records, and medication.
Directions: Use the sterile DNA collection swabs to swab your dog’s cheeks. Place the sample in the self-addressed pre-paid envelope. And mail away!
Results Turnaround Time: Not Specified (A few weeks)
Best Dog DNA Testing Kits Under $100
You’ve probably heard the saying, “you get what you pay for”. That pretty much applies here with the less expensive dog DNA test kits. You won’t get any cool, unique features with all the bells and whistles.
In fact, the performance might not be up to par in terms of accuracy. But you’ll still get some value for your money and learn a thing or two about your four-legged friend.
Below is a short list of the best kits I could find that are less than a “Benjamin”.
1. Find My Pet DNA Test
Find My Pet DNA claims to be great for identifying the breeds of rescues and shelter dogs. This DNA test kit helps you understand the personality traits of your dog’s specific breed(s).
With this information, you’re better able to determine your dog’s trainability. Will it be more difficult to train your dog? Easier?
With Find My Pet DNA testing kit, you can stay one step ahead when it comes to your dog’s health and wellbeing, as it gives insight into certain health problems your dog may be at risk of developing based off his DNA.
Find My Pet DNA is designed to identify different breeds within the genetic composition of mixed breed dogs only. The test won’t confirm whether or not your dog is purebred.
Your dog also won’t be tested for wolf, fox, or coyote hybrids. You’d have to purchase a separate test for that.
Results Turnaround Time: 3 weeks
2. DNA My Dog Canine Breed Identification Test Kit
With DNA My Dog, you’ll gain insight into your dog’s unique genetic background including the history of his breed(s), traits, exercise levels, and more.
DNA My Dog also helps you obtain a better understanding of the potential personality characteristics and health issues to look out for, as well as how to best train and feed your pooch.
When results come back, you’ll get a custom photo certificate of your dog’s breed composition, a report on your dog’s dominant breeds, a percentage breakdown of each level of each breed found in your dog’s unique DNA, and DNA My Dog’s exclusive Life Plan Service to help you manage your dog’s wellness throughout all stages of your pup’s life.
While DNA My Dog does test for predisposition to diseases, it doesn’t come with a customized health plan that offers additional features such as available treatments, management of disease, clinical signs, and more. In order to receive these extra goods, you must pay an additional fee to the cost of the genetic test.
Results Turnaround Time: 1 week
3. DNAffirm DNA Breed Test
DNAffirm tests for over 340 different breeds. With this test, you’ll get the various levels of breed composition, going all the way up to Level 5, which represents the lowest level of breed recognizable in your dog occurring at 9% or less.
The test helps you understand your dog’s unique appearance, behaviors, and wellness needs.
When you get the results back, you’ll get a custom photo certificate of your dog’s breed composition and a report on your dog’s dominant breeds, personality traits, and health concerns.
The manufacturers brag that their tests have been successfully used in court to exempt dogs showing characteristics of certain breeds (i.e. Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, etc) from misguided discriminatory legislation.
By ordering DNAffirm, you’ll automatically join their membership, Canine Connect, which allows you to connect with other pet parents who share the same breed mix as your dog. Also, as an added bonus, you’ll also receive free microchip registration.
Results Turnaround Time: 2 weeks
After you’ve chosen the proper testing kit that works best for you and your pooch and you’ve administered the test, it’s important to keep a few things in mind while you await the results.
Be prepared to wait for some time. Even the best brands need extra time to prepare your results.
Every dog has his own unique DNA, so if the results are taking longer than promised, don’t fret. It’s likely that your dog is made of more breeds than average or perhaps he has a very complex ancestry. Or maybe the lab is extremely busy.
Also, remember that every breed isn’t covered in a DNA testing kit’s database.
Some databases only include the most common breeds.
The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), the world’s governing body of dog breeds recognizes about 340 breeds. The American Kennel Club currently recognizes only 193 breeds.
Keep in mind that there are probably tons of breeds out there that aren’t recognized by these organizations. Your dog could be a part of that small population. You never know!
And before testing, it’s wise to contact the company you want to test with if you believe your dog’s breed may not be in the database. They could possibly point you in the right direction in terms of testing options.
You should also get in contact with the company if for some reason you don’t agree with the results if you have administered the test.
Hopefully, this list was helpful to you and your quest for the best DNA testing kits for dogs. As you have probably read, like human DNA, dog DNA can be very complicated and has a lot of factors involved.
From the very beginning, different types of dogs have been bred together to make the unique population of canines that we have today.
Any pet parent interested in learning more about their canine companion would be curious about his breed, especially if it’s not obvious to the naked eye. Take it from one of the dog DNA testing companies Find My Pet.
“Even professionals can only visually identify all the breeds present in a dog’s genetic make-up accurately about 25% of the time!”
So good luck! And happy testing!
But before you go, please read the frequently asked questions some pet parents have about DNA testing for dogs.
|Can dog DNA tests determine age?||No, they can't. Your veterinarian is better able to determine a DOB estimate for your dog.|
|What about the sex of my dog?||No.|
|Can veterinarians perform DNA testing?||Yes. They generally get a blood sample from your dog and send it to a lab. Some dog owners like the convenience of dog DNA testing kits because they can do it right from home.|
|Can I test my puppy?||Sure! There's no specific age requirement to test your dog's DNA. Remember, we do it to babies all the time to establish paternity!|
|Is DNA testing my dog safe?||Yes, 100%. All it takes is a simple cheek swab. The worst that can happen? Your hungry pooch might swallow the swab.|
|Is a dog DNA test worth it?||Is a dog DNA test worth it?|
|How long does it take for DNA test results to come back?||There isn't a set rule, but results typically come back within 2-4 weeks.|
|Can I use test results to register my dog in a breed club?||No, in order to join dog breed registries like the AKC, CKC, and UKC, your dog must meet certain requirements.|
Have you done a DNA test on your dog? If so, what brand and what were the results?
Leave a comment below!