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Dog DNA Test: How Accurate Is It?

Picture this; you adopt the cutest dog in the world, you two are inseparable. But one day, you’re at the dog park or just walking them along the street, and someone stops you and asks: “Hey, what kind of dog is that?”

You’re not sure how to answer, and truth be told, you’re a little embarrassed; you’ve never even wondered to yourself what type of dog your best friend was. A Dog DNA test could help you answer that question.

What is a Dog DNA test?

A dog DNA test compares your dog’s DNA to a database filled with millions of breeds. They reach the DNA to see if there are any matches to determine what breed your dog is. DNA tests can also detect genetic disorders, which is helpfully making sure you can care for your pets properly.

How do Dog DNA Tests Work?

dog dna test in a lab

Using a Dog DNA test is very straightforward. You can order one from any online retailer, such as Amazon or Chewy. Some vet offices even sell them. Once you receive the kit, all you have to do is gently swab the inside of your dog’s cheek.

That task for some can be difficult; it is recommended to bribe them with a tasty treat. But do not let them eat the treat before you swab, as it may dilute their saliva and negatively affect the test. Once you’ve finished swabbing, feel free to let them have that tasty treat.

As soon as you’ve finished swabbing, you place the swab in the enclosed container for it and ship it back to them. Within a few weeks, you’ll get an email either containing the results or linking you to them. Some companies even have a dedicated portal that helps break down the DNA results for you to understand them better.

Some dog DNA tests require a blood sample, and they work the same way, breaking down and comparing the genetic markers in the blood instead of saliva. If your DNA test requires blood, please allow a trained professional such as a vet to draw the blood. A blood DNA test is not something you should do at home and most likely won’t be available to purchase at any online retailer.

How Accurate are Dog DNA Tests?

dog dna test accuracy in question

Dog DNA tests are surprisingly accurate, but that is not without hiccups. As they require human input at several stages, that human element might make a mistake. Such as, you may not get enough saliva when you swab the cheek, or the swab might get contaminated in transit.

There are also potential errors once it arrives at a lab for testing; whoever receives it may accidentally swap your dog’s swab for another one without realizing it; they may even accidentally contaminate the swab.

The science used for dog DNA tests is excellent outside of potential human error, even going so far as to reveal potential genetic markers that could negatively impact your pet. As mentioned earlier, should any show in your result, talking to your vet about them is highly recommended should any of the previously mentioned genetic markers show.

It would help if you never tried to address potential illnesses like that on your own. The same can be said if you find out your dog is a Great Dane or a different breed like a Greyhound and Belgian Malinois mix and want to try a new diet that may be more beneficial. You should always consult a vet first.

Similar to human DNA tests, a dog DNA test can reveal long-lost relatives and ancestors. Some sites even allow you to upload a picture of your dog, so your dog’s relatives can see how similar they look. They can also reveal hidden traits about your dog that may have been passed down during breeding.

How much do Dog DNA Tests Cost?

dog dna test price in dollars

The cost of a Dog DNA test directly correlates to their benefits and features. The most expensive of them, which come in around $150, test for more things, usually genetic health markers.

Nearly all the dog DNA tests are available to consumers to test for their breeds, which most people look for in a test. Entry-level DNA tests can be found on Amazon, Chewy, or even local Pet stores; they traditionally start at around $70.  Some companies even sell DNA tests for cats!

What Are Some Popular Dog DNA Tests?

  • Embark Breed & Health Kit – Embark kits have the most significant price range of any on the list, ranging between $99 – $200. The $200 Embark DNA testing kits check for over 200 genetic health risks and promise actionable results that will help you and your vet determine a treatment plan if necessary. Embark is a research partner of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, which adds legitimacy to their results. In addition to identifying your pet’s breed and any potential genetic health risk, Embark also features a social aspect. They can connect you with the family members of your dog, anyone that shares DNA with your pup. It should be noted that the Embark dog DNA tests traditionally have a longer turnaround time than other tests, around four weeks. Despite that, they keep you updated during every step of the process, so you don’t worry that your sample might just be sitting in a lab somewhere.
  • DNA My Dog – For those on a budget, DNA My Dog is the test for you. Their kits come in at around $70. They’re also the quickest, with some people getting results in less than two weeks. Similar to other tests, DNA My Dog is just a simple cheek swab, then you mail it off and then patiently, or impatiently, wait. DNA My Dog also mails you a custom certification that features a photo of your dog and its unique genetic breakdown. Their budget-friendly price and quick turnaround make DNA My Dog an easy first choice for those who are just curious about their furry friend.
  • Wisdom Panel Canine DNA Test – Wisdom Panel has two different Dog DNA test kits and even one for cats. Wisdom Panel premium kit is $159, while their essential kit is $99. Both kits boast a >98% accurate breed detection, as well as 1% breed reporting precision. They both test for over 350 different species to see if your dog has a match, making it the perfect test for those mysterious dogs whose lineage is genuinely unknown. Wisdom Panel Essential tests for nearly 30 medical complications. On the other hand, Wisdom Panel Premium performs 210 health tests and over 35 genetic tests; they also promise a veterinarian to consult for any notable health findings. Regardless of which Wisdom Panel test you choose, they all boast a sleek, custom interface that helps break down all the information they’ve discovered.
  • Orivet Dog DNA Test– Orivet results have a feature that sets them apart from other dog DNA testing kits. Orivet’s DNA reports include a personalized wellness guide for your pet, and it considers their age, breed, gender, weight, lifestyle, and location. They even include a schedule that you can talk over with your vet to introduce a custom wellness plan for your dog. If you test a puppy under 12 months, they can predict how large it will grow and recommend you an activity plan based on their daily energy needs.

How Reliable Are Dog DNA Tests?

dog dna test price reliability

With their high cost and long turnaround time, it is reasonable to wonder how reliable dog DNA tests are. Scientifically, they are highly accurate and reliable; the top brands boast a 98% accurate breed detection and 1% breed reporting precision. Their unreliability comes from humans.

The human factor is potentially unreliable, as humans are prone to mistakes. The person handling your DNA swab could accidentally contaminate it, which would negatively affect the tests. If you’re curious about your dog’s history, or potential medical issues, then it’s likely that the price point or potential unreliability won’t prevent you from purchasing one.

Final Thoughts

lab lady working on a dog dna test

Dog DNA tests may not be something that you knew you wanted or that you even knew existed. Once you’ve done a dog DNA test, you’ll never have to feel embarrassed for not having the answer to that question. You’ll know the answer to the question. You may even know their genetic health markers, their ancestors, and even their family.

All that information can be yours for a one-time payment ranging between $70 – $150 and a few weeks of your time. Get the answers to your questions about your best friend today and help them live a better life with a better diet that fits their genetics.

But it would help if you always talked over the results with a vet before doing anything drastic such as changing their diet. Hopefully, we’ve been able to help you make an informed decision about your future and the future of your dog.

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