The Best Dog DNA Test : Our Top 5 Picks

DNA

What is the Best Dog DNA Test?

Over the past few years, DNA testing kits have become extremely popular. Companies like AncestryDNA and 23andMe are two examples of companies that made legitimate, accurate ways to test your genetics more accessible to the general public. With just a simple saliva sample, these kits give you the power to unlock the hidden messages encoded in your genes, as well as credible analyses of how these results impact your identity and health. But what if there was such an option available for your pets?

You may be shocked to hear that the market for dog DNA testing kits is exceptionally huge. However, this makes sense when you consider all of the benefits that dog DNA testing can have for you and your canine. Just as DNA testing for humans can give out invaluable information about your lineage, hereditary dispositions, genetic variants, and other related statistics – dog DNA testing can give you the same information about your beloved furry friend.

The Best Dog DNA Test
If dog DNA testing is something you’re interested in, you’re in luck – there are hundreds of different kits on the market to choose from. However, this poses a different problem: which testing kit is the best kit for you and your dog? Fortunately, we have compiled a list of the top five best dog DNA testing kits available for purchase. Find out which kits are worth your time and money, and which will give you a more comprehensive look at your pup’s personality and health.

Our Top 5 Picks for The Top Dog DNA Tests

  1. Embark Dog DNA Test Kit
Overview: Embark Dog DNA Testing databases crosscheck your dog’s sample against over 200,000 genetic markers, which is the largest and widest range out of all of the kits on this list. Embark also tests for more than 160 genetic conditions, including degenerative myelopathy (similar to Lou Gehrig’s Disease in humans), progressive retinal atrophy (which leads to blindness), and even resistance to certain drugs. With high accuracy and credibility, Embark DNA gives you the most bang for your buck.

2. Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 3.0 Breed Identification Kit

Overview: Mars, Incorporated has certainly cornered the market on dog DNA testing, providing a wide variety of kits that claim accuracy and effectiveness. The Wisdom Panel 3.0 has around 1,800 genetic markers in its database and can identify more than 250 breeds, varieties, and types of dogs. While it does test for less factors than Embark, it is cheaper and still just as accurate.

3. Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 2.5 Breed Identification Kit

Overview: An earlier version of the 3.0 kit, the Wisdom Panel 2.5 DNA kit. While not as updated as the Wisdom Panel 3.0, dog owners claim that it is reliable. The test is easy to perform, and provides accurate results for MDR1-gene testing and adult weight range prediction.

4. HomeDNA Orivet Dog DNA Tests

Overview: When ordering the HomeDNA health screening test, you truly get a wealth of information for a good price. However, if you want another detailed report on your dog’s breed identification results, you need to buy a separate test entirely. Therefore, HomeDNA is pricy, especially in comparison to Embark, which offers both tests in one. If you are only interested in looking at your dog’s genetic variants and health conditions, HomeDNA might be worth looking into.

5. DNA My Dog

Overview: If you’re a dog owner less interested in the complicated genetics of your pet, and more so in the specifics of its breed, DNA My Dog might be the kit for you. DNA My Dog is a fun alternative to some of the other kits that provide more hard, scientific results, and it is the least expensive of all the kits reviewed here. However, if you are looking for a more detailed and accurate assessment of your dog’s breeds, traits, and health, you may want to look into the other kits mentioned.

Best Dog DNA Tests Reviewed

  1. Embark Dog DNA Test Kit

For the most accurate, interactive, comprehensive, and credible results, look no further. Embark has stepped up to the plate as the most accurate DNA testing kit available on the market, testing more than 200,000 genetic markers, and over 160 health conditions. Partnered with Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and backed by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Embark promises easy to access results, as well as a vet report that can be directly delivered to your pet’s healthcare provider.

Pros: Highly accurate; Backed by credible institutions; Tests for over 160 canine health conditions.

Cons: More expensive than competing kits.

2. Wisdom Panel 3.0 Breed Identification Kit

Wisdom Panel 3.0 uses some of the most innovative, up-to-date technology to test your canine’s DNA. This kit’s breed identification technology can identify over 250 dog varieties, types, and breeds. It also tests for 1,800 genetic markers, and is and is especially adept in detecting the gene for multi-drug resistance and adult weight range prediction statistics.

Pros: Solid information about genetic makeup; Fast results; Affordable

Cons: Not as many genetic markers to test from when compared to Embark; Only covers breeds from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Western Europe.

3. Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 2.5 Breed Identification Kit

While not as in-depth as Embark, or as up-to-date as its successors, Wisdom Panel 2.5 has the validity of customer satisfaction on its side. This kit provides valuable information about your dog’s heritage for a low cost, and is exceptional in testing for drug resistance. Many pet owners trust Wisdom Panel 2.5, which means that at the very least, it is credible among customers.

Pros: Can test for drug resistance; Accurate for identifying breeds; Receive results within 2 to 3 weeks.

Cons: Only covers a few genetic markers, which can be an issue for dogs with mixed heritage; Outdated version.

4. HomeDNA Orivet Dog DNA Tests

HomeDNA provides in-depth testing on your canine’s health and breed composition. Unfortunately, the mixed-breed identification test and the health screening tests are separate, meaning you have to shell out for each if you want both heritage and health results. However, with over 235 recognized and developing breeds in their database, HomeDNA is sure to provide accurate and comprehensive results. Their health screening tests provide a lot of valuable information.

Pros: Great health screening tests; 235 breeds in database; Testing for over 150 health conditions.

Cons: You have to order two separate tests, making it more expensive than Embark, which only requires one; Results can take more than a month to be sent.

5. DNA My Dog

DNA My Dog is a genetic testing kit that is perfect for dog owners who want to know about the lineage of their beloved pup, but don’t want to spend so much money on testing procedures for other genetic conditions. However, the results of this kit do not seem to be the most accurate. If you are looking for detailed information about your pet’s health, then this is not the kit for you.

Pros: Very affordable; Custom certificate with breed and photo of dog; Results within 2 weeks.

Cons: Accuracy is questionable; Does not test for health or genetic conditions.

How Does Dog DNA Testing Work?

To understand how DNA testing works, it’s best if you have a general understanding of reproductive genetics. Like all dogs, your dog is the product of two reproductive cells. This means that 100% of a dog’s genetic makeup is given to them by their parents – the male parent gives 50%, while the female parent gives the other 50%. However, this idea is complicated once you move up the family tree and throw dominant and recessive traits into the mix; your dog’s parents have genetic makeup from their parents, and so on and so forth. This is why the most advanced and accurate genetic tests take a longer time to produce results, since they are sorting through generations of mixed heritages. 

To test your dog’s DNA, first you need a sample of their cells. Most DNA tests require either a swab or blood test. Once submitting the sample to your preferred testing company, the DNA testing technology will then pinpoint similarities between your sample and other existing data on various breeds. This is why its important to have a large breed database to pull from, as having more knowledge about various types of dogs allows for a wider range of data on the genetic predispositions unique to each breed.

Swab vs Blood DNA Test

Both swab and blood tests are valid ways of collecting cells from your pet. However, there are key differences that the two tests that you should be aware of.

Swab tests use a tiny brush with bristles (also called a swab) to collect cells from inside your dog’s mouth. This process can be done quickly and easily at home. Typically, the kit will provide you with a prepaid envelope to send in your sample to the company via mail, meaning this process doesn’t require any additional fees.

Alternatively, blood sampling is a bit more of a lengthy and expensive process, as it requires you to take your dog to the vet. The vet draws the blood sample and places it into containers provided by the kit. While it is more expensive, blood sampling is generally more accurate, since you don’t have to worry about contaminating the sample or incorrectly performing the procedures for a swab test.

How to Swab Your Dog with a DNA Test

Performing a swab test is the most convenient way to send in a genetic sample, as the process is free and fairly easy. All of the tools you need (a swab, container, and prepaid envelope) should be in your kit. Though swab kits are simple, there are still ways in which you can contaminate the sample. Here are the four steps you should take to ensure that your swab test is properly conducted:
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Step #1:  Examine the inside of your dog’s mouth to check for food or debris. If your dog has just finished eating, wait about 30 minutes to 2 hours before performing your swab test.

Step #2: Open the swab packets and read the instructions provided by your kit. Be extra careful not to touch the bristles of your swab, as it will contaminate the sample.

Step #3: Place the swab inside your dog’s mouth, and firmly rub the bristles up against the inside of their cheek for 15 to 30 seconds.

Step #4: After 15 to 30 seconds, remove the swab and allow it to dry for about 5 minutes before placing it back in its storage sleeve.

If you afraid that you may have contaminated your swab, don’t worry – many kits come with two swabs, and some even send you a free replacement if yours get damaged.

How Accurate is a Dog DNA Test?

Accuracy refers to how close a given value of something is to the real value. While all DNA tests are backed by science, there is no real way to be certain that your test is completely accurate. The accuracy of dog DNA tests relies largely on the credibility of the company and their resources. When looking for accuracy, it’s important to consider the amount of data the company has access to. Typically, if a company tests for the standard 180 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, it is more likely to be fairly accurate. However, the more statistics and information a company has in their database, the more accurate your tests are likely to be.

To assess the validity of your kit, it’s best to review the company’s procedures and cross-reference the kit with findings detailed in published clinical research studies.

How long do I have to wait to get the DNA test results?

The length of time it takes for a DNA test to be conducted relies on the information being tested for. Usually, companies have to run hundreds or even thousands of tests on a single sample, and this process takes a while to complete. Typically, companies will send you results in about 2 to 3 weeks, though this could be longer depending on the number of variables being tested.

Why Should I DNA Test My Dog? What are the Health Benefits?

As a dog lover, there are numerous reasons why you may want to get your dog’s DNA tested. That reason could be you satisfying a simple curiosity about the lineage of your pup. But your dog’s heritage holds a lot of important data. Figuring out what different breeds your dog is a mix of can provide value information about your dog’s personality and possible health risks.

Every dog is unique. Because breeders have spent years experimenting with different breed mixes, the dog population is incredibly diverse. Even if you may think your dog is a purebred, it could actually have a mixed lineage somewhere in their family tree. Due to the complicated history of dog breeding, no two dogs, despite being the same breed, act exactly alike – and this is where DNA testing comes into play. Finding out the mix of breeds that lies within your dog’s genetic makeup can help identify which breeds contribute to its personality and behavior. This information can be useful when coming up with behavior training or obedience training programs, since different breeds respond more positively to different training methods.

DNA testing can also help determine what genetically predisposed health risks or diseases your dog may have. Different breed mixes are more susceptible to certain kinds of genetic mutations, or are more at risk for developing certain diseases. For example, Shepherds and Collies are more likely to contain the multi-drug resistance gene (MDR1), which effects their tolerance for medications and antibiotics. Knowing what genetic mutations your dog has, and what health conditions they are predisposed to, can allow you to take preventative measures to maintain your dog’s overall health. For example, if your dog is prone to have weaker joints as they get older, you may want to begin giving your dog joint health supplements to minimize the impact this will have on your dog’s health later on.

DNA testing your dog can help you and your vet come up with a healthcare plan better suited to your pets needs. For instance, adult canine weight predictions can help evaluate if your dog is more prone to metabolic disorders or obesity. You and you pet’s healthcare provider can come up with a well-balanced meal program specifically designed for your dog to rectify these potential concerns.

DNA testing

While DNA testing can be an amazing tool to access to your dog’s health information, it’s important to keep in mind that just because your pet is predisposed for a certain health condition, does not mean they have that health condition. Because words like “mutation” and “disease” have such terrifying connotations, it’s easy to be misled by the health indicators on these tests. For instance, certain genetic mutations that may be associated with cancers in some breeds may not cause cancer in other breeds – however, the mutation will register as a cancer risk on both tests. Therefore, be sure to speak to the company about your results to make sure you understand them in their entirety. Before making important health decisions based on a DNA test, talk to your veterinarian.

The Most Important Things to Look for When Buying a Dog DNA Testing Kit

There are many factors to be aware of when buying a dog DNA testing kit, many of which I have detailed above. However, the five most important things are as follows: credibility, accuracy, comprehensiveness, speed, and affordability.

Credibility: The credibility of your kit relies primarily on the company and their methods for testing your sample. Do you trust the company running the tests, and how likely are you to question the results? Try looking into companies and their testing methods before purchasing a kit from them. Companies that are backed by legitimate educational and medical institutions are more credible, and are therefore more likely to produce accurate tests.

Accuracy: As I mentioned earlier, accuracy can be a difficult thing to measure. However, accuracy of results tends to go hand-in-hand with credibility. If your company uses legitimate testing methods, and has a sizable database to reference, they will produce more accurate results.

Comprehensiveness: Companies that have a large pool of information at their disposal are more likely to produce comprehensive results. If you are looking to test your dog’s DNA for the purpose of creating health or behavioral plans, comprehensiveness is important in getting a well-rounded look at your dog’s genetics. For instance, testing against 1,800 breeds is better than testing against 180 breeds when it comes to crosschecking your dog’s genes against known genetic predispositions.

Speed: Most tests take 2 to 3 weeks to produce results, but if a company takes longer, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A company running over 1,000 tests should take longer to produce results than companies only running 100 tests per sample. If you are expecting speedy results with a DNA test, they will be less accurate.

Affordability: DNA tests can be expensive, so it is best to look at your options to determine which kit has the best balance between information you are interested in, and a price point that won’t break the bank.

How Much is a DNA Dog Test Kit?

DNA test kits can range anywhere from $60 to $200. Note that usually (but not always!), more expensive DNA tests are going to give you a lot more results for your money. However, it may not be in your best interest to go with the most expensive kit out there – considering what information you want to know about your dog, as well as the legitimacy of these tests, are as important as price.