Since the late 2000’s, the ease, convenience and availability of at home Dog DNA test kits has meant they have exploded in popularity.
For owners that are interested in the genetic material of their dog, it makes sense that they would want to know what the best at home dog DNA test kit is on the market.
What the kit tests for, accuracy, price and ease of testing are all factors that owners consider when making their choice.
In this guide, we run through those factors as well as what some of the best at home dog DNA test brands might be like Wisdom Panel, and Embark.
Let’s have a look …
(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s)
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What Is The Best At Home Dog DNA Test Kit?
Our top rated option for the most comprehensive test is the:
You wait longer to get the Embark Dog DNA Test back (6-8 weeks), but the customer service and updates are great, and the report is EXTREMELY detailed.
An affordable option is the:
- Wisdom Panel 3.0 Breed Identification Dog DNA Test Kit (on Chewy)
- Wisdom Panel 3.0 Breed Identification DNA Test Kit (on Amazon)
You may receive a ‘mixed breed’ or ‘other’ breed labelled result in the breed %’s – which might be frustrating for owners
Other options might include:
- DNA MY Dog Canine Breed Identification Test Kit on Amazon
- DNAffirm Canine Breed Identification Test on Amazon
Best At Home Dog DNA Test Kits: Reviews
Embark Dog DNA Test
Very comprehensive report
Test tracks 200,000 genetic markers
Test for over 150 breeds – and even wolf, coyote, and village dog ancestry – together these breeds cover over 98% of dogs in America
Collect a DNA sample by doing a saliva cheek swab of your dog and mailing back the swab
Text 20x more genes than any other dog DNA test
Identify the %’s of each breed in your dog
Provides a dog family tree back to your dog’s grandparents (dog ancestry)
HEALTH – tests for over 160 genetic diseases and hereditary diseases– including MDR1 sensitivity, degenerative myelopathy (DM), dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), PRA blindness, and exercise-induced collapse (EIC).
TRAITS – coat color, coat length, shedding, body features, body size and performance
Partnered with Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, accepted by Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), trusted by professional dog breeders & veterinary hospitals.
Use the information to make the best choices about your pup’s health, diet, exercise, and overall wellness
You’ll understand your dog better
You can show your vet the report
Speak to your vet to come up with a plan for managing against, and taking preventative action against genetic disease genes your dog might be carrying
Good way to reduce vet bills if you manage disease prevention
Great customer service by Embark
Test takes 6-8 weeks to come back
Pre paid postage on the swab return mail
In summary – You get a full report that covers your dog’s breeds, family tree, relateness of breeds, which lines and geographic locations your dog came from, what physical (such as face and coat) and behavior based traits your dog has and the genetic basis behind them, and what dog diseases and conditions your dog is clear of, at risk of and a carrier of in their genes
View Embark Dog DNA Test on Amazon
Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 3.0 DNA Test Kit
Report includes – Breed ancestry tree going back to great great grandparents, % break down of each breed in your dog, Detailed breed profiles for each of the breeds detected, Multidrug Sensitivity (MDR1) genetic mutation screening results, Adult weight range prediction to help with nutrition and diet choices, Ancestry certificate for framing
Test for 250 breeds, types and varieties of dog, including 99 percent of breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and can be run for mixed-breed, designer, or purebred dogs
Scans and track scans more than 1,800 pre-determined genetic markers to identify the most accurate breed matches.
For mixed breed dogs: Breed ancestry identification back to great-grandparents.
For purebred dogs: Breed certification and level of genetic diversity.
For designer dogs: Certification that your dog is a true 50/50 hybrid of two purebred parents.
Offers the MDR1 drug sensitivity screening at no extra charge – only test to do so in the US
If you have a puppy, this test includes a final weight prediction
You will receive the results 2-3 weeks after the sample arrives.
Test is a cheek swab saliva sample
Pre paid postage on the swab return mail
Your test might come back showing a certain % as ‘mixed breed’ or ‘other’ if they can’t identify some of the breeds for you – this can make the test seem not worth it for some people.
View Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 3.0 Breed Identification DNA Test Kit on Amazon
Best At Home Dog DNA Test: Buyer’s Guide
What Are At Home Dog DNA Tests?
They are tests that usually involve you taking a saliva swab from your dog’s inner cheek, and mailing the sealed swab capsule back to a test lab.
The test lab analyses your dog’s genetic material matching up ‘markers’ that identify the unique breed, lineage, health and trait indicators in your dog’s DNA fingerprint.
How Do They Analyse The DNA From Your Dog?
There are around 85 dog breeds that make up about 95% of the North American dog breed population.
The good dog test brands should be able to identify these common breeds in your dog if they contain them as primary or secondary breeds.
However, different dog test brands are going to have information on a different amount of signatures to match with markers in their database.
The success of a breed identity test largely depends on the size of a company’s library of marker matches. Pieces of DNA, or “markers”, collected from a dog’s 38 chromosomes (your dogs DNA in the saliva on the swab), are compared to a database of sample breed signatures to come up with a match.
Embark for example tracks 200,000 genetic markers and tests for over 150 breeds,
Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel test for 250 breeds, types and varieties of dog and scans and track more than 1,800 pre-determined genetic markers.
There are differences in other parts of their tests though such as how long the tests take to get back to you and the detail in their reports
So, How Accurate Are At Home Dog DNA Tests?
Every dog DNA test has its limitations (according to smh.com.au), but when done correctly, at home DNA tests can give owners 90% accuracy rate (according to treehugger.com)
What Factors Might Affect How Accurate The Dog DNA Tests Are?
At home tests can be affected by:
– the owner doing the swab – how precise and clean they are with the swab
– how closely related the breeds are within your dog (closely related breeds might bring back undefined or scattered results)
– the size of the library of signatures the DNA test company has to match with markers in your dog’s DNA
– the skill and experience of the DNA experts analysing your dog’s DNA
– your individual dog – how clear or diluted their breeding has been.
Why would you get a dog DNA test?
You’d get a test for any or all of these reasons:
– To find about the breed profile (%’s) of a mixed breed dog – for breeding, buying, adopting, competitions, residential or apartment applications etc
– To find out the family tree of your dog
– To find out the related breeds to your dog’s breed
– To find out about the breed related health diseases and conditions your dog might be most at risk of developing
– To find out breed specific behaviors and traits your dog might have or develop – coat colors, coat shedding, head and body size and structure, performance traits etc.
They are particularly useful for mix dogs.
Some people are required to know a dog’s breed – for breeding, for rescues and shelters, for competitions and sometimes for residency in a certain area where certain high risk breeds of dogs are banned like apartments
Some people with families or young kids for example might be scared of getting a mixed breed dog in it like a pitbull or bulldog for example.
Shelters use DNA tests to place difficult to place dogs in homes (if a dog looks slightly strange or unique, helping prospective owners know the breed can give the dog more of a familiarity).
The reality is that when it comes to buying and adopting, although all dogs should be treated equal, some people just have in built bias towards a particular look or breed.
What can dog DNA tests tell you?
It differs depending on the brand from which you got the DNA test.
A company like Embark for example, their report and test results might tell you:
– The breed profile of your dog … what % of each breed your dog has in them
– Related breeds to your dog’s primary breed
– The maternal lineage of your dog
– How their physical and performance traits relate to their genes
– What genetic diseases they might carry, be at risk of or be clear of
– The genes relating to the traits your dog has such as coat colors, coat shedding, head and body size and structure, performance traits etc.
– And, what their ancestry/family tree is in terms of breed, going back to their grand parents or great grandparents
The testing team may even look to your dog’s visual features, your dog’s group (herding, water retriever etc.), or lines within a breed to match up test results.
How Long Does It Take For A Dog DNA Test To Come Back?
For the standard at home dog DNA test for consumers, you are looking at getting the test results and report back in 2 to 8 weeks on average from when the lab receives the swab.
Shelter tests can be done as quickly as 4 or 5 days.
Do Dog DNA tests actually work?
There’s a good chance that at home dog DNA tests do a consistent and competent job of identifying the primary breeds your dog has in them, or even multiple secondary breeds that your dog’s DNA is made up of.
If you dog has small remnants/tiny percentages of other dog breeds and lines (like mixed breeds do) – this is where the discrepancy and inconsistency may appear between different brands of tests.
However, most DNA test kit brands are willing to discuss test results with you further to clarify anything you want more info on.
They may even be able to identify what lines from within a particular breed your dog’s primary breed belongs to.
We found that Embark in particular has a very detailed report covering most genetic queries you have about your dog – breeds, family tree, maternal lineage, physical traits, performance traits and genetic disease info.
How Easy Are The Tests To Do?
You simply swab your dog’s cheek to get a saliva sample, place the swab back in the air tight capsule, place the swab back in the box, and return the swab to the lab in the pre paid postage package.
You register your account with the company, and they will send you updates as to when you results and report will be available.
In step by step form:
Take the swab out and swab the saliva and skin on the inside of your dog’s cheek
Seal the swab
Put the sealed swab inside the pre paid postage pocket
Mail back to the lab
Register an account for your dog with the company
Receive updates on your report
Receive your results and report when it’s ready
Discuss results with company rep if required for clarification
Some Dog DNA Tests Also Test For Genetic Disease
What Are Genetic Diseases & Inherited Diseases In Dogs?
Genetics can be very complex and there are several factors and variables that can impact a particular dog’s circumstances.
As a general and simplified explanation, when people talk about genetic diseases in dogs, they are most commonly referring to the inherited diseases common to particular breeds.
These inherited diseases are often blamed on poor breeding – where breeders either don’t understand dog genetics, or are irresponsible and breed parents together who have defective genes – which they pass on to their puppies.
The defective gene is the recessive gene, passed on in either a dominant + recessive combination, or recessive + recessive.
Examples of genetic diseases in dogs are hip and elbow dysplasia for German Shepherds and Labradors.
Why Would You Want To Know If Your Dog Has Defective Genes?
If you are a breeder, you might want to know if your dogs have defective or recessive genes so that they you aren’t breeding together parents that can pass them onto puppies.
If you are an owner, it’s worth knowing if your dog carries recessive genes for a particular disease so you can begin putting your dog on a management plan as early as possible – it might save your dog pain in the future, as well as saving on big vet bills!
For example, with hip and elbow dysplasia, a disease that weakens or alters the joints, your vet may modify your dog’s diet or prescribe them supplements catered specifically towards maintaining good joint health (Minerals that naturally occur in some foods that might help joint health are glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM).
How Do Dogs Usually Get Tested For Genetic Disease?
Breeders usually get tests or clearances done by certified bodies or their vet to get clearances for certain diseases.
These tests can be physical examinations, or things like taking x rays and examining bones and joints.
If we take hip dysplasia for example, in the US, a good breeder will get the hips checked and certified by the OFA (the Orthopaedic Foundation For Animals).
Your vet is the best person to tell you how to check or get clearance for a particular genetic disease, and how to manage it.
At Home Dog Genetic Disease Testing
You can get an at home dog DNA tests like the
It screens for over 160 genetic diseases.
Common diseases that Embark tests for include but aren’t limited to MDR1 sensitivity, degenerative myelopathy (DM), dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), PRA blindness, and exercise-induced collapse (EIC).
The way the test works is that you swab the saliva and cheek cells on the inside of your dog’s mouth, seal the swab, and return it in a postage paid envelope to the lab team.
Around 6-8 weeks later, you then get a detailed report that outlines for you:
What genetic diseases your dog is clear of
What genetic diseases your dog is a carrier of (laying dormant)
What genetic diseases your dog is at risk of showing symptoms of
The tests can screen for all diseases, so check which ones are covered.
You might then like to show the test results to your vet and get their opinion on them.
Another benefit of a test like Embarks, is that you don’t just get the health information.
You also get:
Trait gene information
Information on the maternal lines of your dog
Breeds your dog might be related to
A breed breakdown, in %’s, of what breeds your dog might belong to – handy if you suspect your dog might be a mix
No at home DNA dog test is without it’s flaws or limitations, but it is estimated that when done correctly, some at home DNA dog tests can have up to 90% accuracy when done correctly.
Dog DNA Tests By Vets
Vets can also do saliva, hair and blood DNA tests for you. But, ask them for their opinion.
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