There are so many breeds of dog out in the world and most people cannot accurately tell which dogs are pure breeds, mixed breeds, their ancestry, or whether the dog you have has good genetic health.
Modern DNA test kits will check for markers of genetic health conditions and let you know. This is important information as some breeds are more susceptible to particular problems than others. Knowing your dog’s breed allows you to be on the lookout for the symptoms.
There are a few dog DNA test kits in use, we’ll be comparing some of them to help you make the best choice for your needs.
a. Wisdom Panel 3.0 Canine DNA Test
This is a well-reviewed test kit that is easy to use. You just have to swab the inside of your dog’s cheek, send it off in a postage-paid box and discover your dog’s ancestry in 2-3 weeks.
With a database of over 350 breeds, including almost all those recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), a predicted weight profile and check for multi-drug resistance 1 (MDR1) is included in all tests. Purebred and designer dog tests also provide a chart that will compare your dog with others of the same breed and measure genetic markers in purebred dogs.
Testers have reported very high accuracy and excellent customer service. Also being able to trace a dog’s ancestry to 3 generations is a plus.
It, however, comes with the downside of being slower than other dog DNA tests and is more expensive.
b. Embark Breed and Health Kit
Cited as the most accurate and comprehensive canine DNA test by PCMag. It provides more data than most other kits provide, and more than most dog owners may want.
Founded by scientist brothers, Embark features a large breed database and checks more than 350 breeds as well as wolves, coyotes, dingo’s, and free-ranging” village dogs.” It also checks for over 190 genetic medical conditions and can determine whether your dog is a carrier, or at risk of, a full-blown disease.
To use the kit, you first have to create an account with Embark so it can be activated. Create a dog profile for the kit and register the dog with the number from the kit. Multiple kits can be activated using the same account. You can also decide if you want your dog’s sample to be used for medical and medical research.
Swab your dog’s cheeks and mail the sample to Embark, postage prepaid, and you will receive the results in 2 to 4 weeks. Embark will keep you informed via email throughout the whole process. The final email will include a breakdown of the mix of breeds’ DNA present in your dog’s makeup. It will also include a family tree for your dog up to his great grandparents. The family tree, however, seems to be reserved for mixed breeds.
The Health section may be the most important, as it shows the results for all the tests performed for genetic mutations your dog could have or carry. They will even highlight any problems your dog may have and provide more information about them. They encourage you to share the results with your vet so they are aware of any potential problems.
Embark tests for more problems related to your dog’s genetics and can even connect you to your dog’s relatives if the data is available to them.
Embark is, however, more expensive than any other kit, but many consider it worth the extra cost.
c. DNA My Dog Canine DNA Test
DNA My Dog has a simple mission: accessible canine DNA tests that don’t cost the world and give you fast results. It is meant more for people who are curious than have any major concerns.
They test against a smaller database of the most common breeds so a mixed breed may miss some rare breed ancestors.
While it does not have the most feature-rich offerings, the inexpensiveness of the basic test, pre-paid postage, including extra life plan services for managing canine wellness and a frame-worthy certificate make this a great deal.
They do however have a rather small database of about 100 breeds, no family tree views, and cheap packaging.
d. Darwin’s Ark
It is a crowdsourcing effort that has pet owners submit short behavioral surveys about their dogs and in return receive a free DNA test. There’s a waiting list for the free DNA test as you may expect with it being free. You can wait for years before your results are sent to you.
DNA tests can also be bought, though at a much more expensive cost than any other we have looked at today. This test can be subsidized by filling out several surveys. Paid for surveys are available in 90 to 120 days.
With 93 breeds in its database, Darwin’s Ark has one of the smallest databases.
So, what’s the verdict? If you can afford to fork out the extra cash and are willing to do so, the Embark Breed and Health DNA test is all-encompassing with the biggest database and has very accurate results. The online portal is also a plus as it goes the extra mile, allowing you to potentially meet your dog’s relatives. Embark customer service also gets a lot of praise and gets consideration when picking which test to go with.
The Wisdom Panel, however, gives the most accurate results, with their main drawback being that the cheek swab can irritate a dog’s mouth.
Since a company is limited by the database available to it, some breeds will not be tested for it. There is also the fact that DNA is complicated, and accuracy might not be the best, especially for mixed breeds, with some even reporting a percentage of “mixed breed unknown.”
The tests start from about £60 for the cheapest one you can find to £200 depending on how in-depth the test is and the size of the database it is being tested against.
Since all the tests above do not require a blood sample, that is not something that should bother you when deciding on which one to purchase.