What You Need to Know to Choose the Best Dog DNA Test for Your Pet

Tested on actual pups!

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Collage of three Dog DNA test boxes.

Spending on pets is zooming upward. The American Pet Products Association says pet parents in the U.S. spent almost $137 billion on their animals in 2022. And we're not just talking essentials (like puppy supplies), aesthetics (such as a perfect dog bed) or seasonal must-haves (duh, a fabulous Halloween costume). We want to really understand our pups so we can give them the best care possible. To do that, we're turning to home kits that analyze saliva to report on dog lineage, health and even personality. What's the best dog DNA test for your pet? We tested four of the leading brands to determine just that.

The Best Dog DNA Test At-a-Glance


Best Overall

Embark Dog Breed + Health Test Kit

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Best for Interpreting Health Results

Wisdom Panel™ Premium

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Best for Understanding Breeds

DNA My Dog Canine Premium Breed ID Test

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Best Budget

Orivet Geno Pet Dog Breed Identification DNA Test

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What Is a Dog DNA Test Kit, Anyway?

Basically, these kits include a cheek swab, a vial to place the swab in and an envelope to send the swab to the company's lab, where Bowser's spit is analyzed and compared with all the other dog DNA in the company's data bank. In much the same way as home human DNA tests do, some companies offer disease test marker screenings, or notification if a close relative's DNA is also recorded. (No sign of any paternity lawsuits being filed as a result of dog DNA, but the industry's still young so give it a chance). Mostly, dog owners want their dog analyzed to see what breeds are in its bloodline. So for example, you can find out that, although your rescue dog looks like she's all golden retriever, she's got some terrier in her background (which maybe explains her squirrel-chasing insanity).

What Do Veterinarians Say About All This?

A number of companies test for genetic predispositions for diseases, which is a selling point for pet owners concerned about detecting potential illnesses early. But the lack of testing kit oversight has given pause to some veterinarian professionals. In 2018, the journal Nature published a story in which a Harvard bioethicist, a veterinarian and a medical doctor cautioned against the lack of validation and imprecise results or interpretation in results of pet DNA tests. They foresaw a world in which there would be a conflict of interest in which pet care companies could use genetic information about a pet to sell it goods and services that were indicated by the results of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. However, this cautionary call for regulation doesn't preclude using a DNA test kit for a fun look at your pet's ancestry.

How Much Is a Dog DNA Test

Dog DNA test kits range from about $60 to $200, depending on the brand, how detailed you want your results and when you buy. The highest price point is Embark Dog Breed + Health Test Kit ($200, though it’s currently on sale for $130) and the lowest is Orivet Geno Pet Dog Breed Identification DNA Test ($70, currently on sale for $58).

We’ve found that most tests have new customer discount offers if you sign up for their email newsletters and seasonal promotional codes. Some even offer discounts on second tests, which is a great idea for multi-dog households.

How to DNA Test Your Dog

When you register your dog DNA test kit, you’ll need some basic statistics about your pup. You’ll have to provide your dog’s sex, age (estimations are fine if you’re not sure) and whether or not they’ve been neutered or spayed. Ideally, your dog isn’t a puppy. While you can test puppies, testing an adult dog will provide more reliable results.

Every test asked subjects to abstain from eating for a period of time before testing. The range was 10 minutes to two hours. We think the longer, the better, so if you can test first thing in the morning before your dog has eaten breakfast (or played with dogs of other breeds at the park!), that’s what we recommend. Then, you’ll have to swab your dog’s cheek for 15 to 20 seconds. This was pretty unpleasant for most dogs, so it can be a challenge.

We also noticed one test subject had a much easier time than the others because his parents regularly brushed his teeth, which vets say is crucial for a canine’s all-around health. This made getting a sample from his cheek much easier because he was used to his dad sticking a brush in his mouth. 

What Is the Best Dog DNA Test?

We liked Embark Dog Breed + Health Test Kit for its detailed results, ability to connect your dog to relatives, communication and scientific reach. We also thought their collection method was the easiest because it only required one swab and said swab was spongey, not full of irritating bristles. Wisdom Panel came in as a close second, as it also boasts tremendous results. Orivet is the best dog DNA test in terms of value. You cannot beat that price point and the results presentation was easy to read.

How We Rated the Dog DNA Tests

We took lots of factors into consideration while testing these dog DNA kits. We looked at:

  • What It Tests: Some look only at breeds while others give detailed data on health risks directly linked to your dog’s DNA sample.
  • Why We Love It: Extras that make the test stand out from the pack.
  • Breeds: All of the test kits on our list have the capability to compare your dog’s DNA with more than 350 official breeds, so you can’t go wrong here.
  • Value: As mentioned, some kits cost way more than others. We considered the price compared with how much information you get in your results.
  • Functionality: How well a test was built in terms of opening it up, using it and sending it off.
  • Ease of Use: No test was above and beyond the others here, as each requires you to stick a swab into your dog’s mouth for an extended period of time. No dog was thrilled about this.
  • Reliability: Results are only as good as the science behind them! Several of our dogs had also been tested before, which helped us decipher the newer data.
  • Results Presentation: How easy it was to interpret the results, navigate the website and find information we wanted.
Embark Dog DNA Test blue box with a dog on it.
  • What It Tests: Breed mix, genetic health risks, traits, ancestry
  • Why We Love It: Connects relatives, regular progress updates, actionable steps to take with health risks
  • Breeds: 350+ breeds
  • Value: 18/20
  • Functionality: 20/20
  • Ease of Use: 15/20
  • Reliability: 20/20
  • Results Presentation: 20/20
  • Total: 93/100

We tested Gretchen, whose mama adopted her and figured she’s an American Pit Bull Terrier. Embark results showed Gretchen is in fact 100 percent pit bull! Had she been a mixed breed, Embark would’ve given us a cool family tree breakdown. We also learned Gretchen has an increased risk of developing mast cell tumors, for which Embark offered actionable steps Gretchen’s mom can take to help her dog live a long, healthy life.

Created in collaboration with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, this test draws on a database of more than 350 breeds and provides results in between two and four weeks (our test took 13 days from the time it arrived at the lab and when results were emailed to us). Additionally, it tests for 256 diseases including glaucoma, degenerative myelopathy and dilated cardiomyopathy. And in a fun (and teensy bit Big Brother-ish) added feature, Embark lets you find and connect with any other dogs who share your pet's DNA, as long as they used Embark to test also.

We really loved being kept in the loop by Embark through emails notifying us when the sample arrived and alerting us it was in processing. The website is informative and there are plenty of customizable options—if you want to save money and learn breed composition only, there’s a test for that. Embark also has purebred, gut health and oral health tests (the Breed + Health test we used is their best-seller). The one drawback was the test swab’s tiny size. It may be tricky for large breeds to get a good sample without chewing it up. On the other hand, it was a soft, sponge-like texture which looks more comfortable than other tests that use bristles. 

Gretchen the white and brown pit bull lying on the porch.

Gretchen, the 100-percent Pit Bull.

Wisdom Panel Dog DNA test box

Best for Interpreting Health Results

2. Wisdom Panel™ Premium


  • What It Tests: Breed mix, genetic health risks, traits, ancestry
  • Why We Love It: Improved testing in recent years, chromosome breakdown, vet consult for at-risk findings
  • Breeds: 350+ breeds
  • Value: 19/20
  • Functionality: 20/20
  • Ease of Use: 15/20
  • Reliability: 20/20
  • Results Presentation: 20/20
  • Total: 94/100

We tested Petey, who took an earlier version of Wisdom’s DNA test about five years ago. Petey’s mom said these new results were much more nuanced, making her think the test’s sensitivity has dramatically improved in recent years. Petey is 62 percent Basset Hound, 17 percent Dachshund, 12 percent Chihuahua, 3 percent Poodle and 2 percent Rat Terrier (compared to his previous test, which showed 50 percent Basset Hound, 25 percent Dachshund with the rest too mixed to identify).

Wisdom Panel also gave us an estimate of what Petey’s family tree looks like and let us know he was at risk for the skeletal disorder Chondrodystrophy (CDDY) and Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), where spinal discs deteriorate quickly.

This swab kit tests for more than 235 diseases and compares your dog's DNA with “the world's largest breed reference database (21,000+ samples from over 50 countries).” The company says test results are more than 98 percent accurate. You’ve got to swab twice, each for 15 seconds, and let them dry for five full minutes. We will say these swabs looked uncomfortable, as they have bristles.

Our results took 10 days to come back, though it can take up to three weeks. Wisdom Panel’s site says vets and actual geneticists have tweaked their tests for two decades to produce the current models, which  includes a number of foreign breeds in its database. So if you think your pet might have a strain of wolf, Brazilian terrier or Mexican street dog in his makeup, this is the test for you. We really love that the Premium test includes a 15-minute call with one of Wisdom Panel’s vets to discuss any at-risk health findings.

Psst: Be sure your pup hasn’t eaten for two hours before testing! We think our test subject ate too close to swab time, as his first test came back inconclusive. Wisdom Panel sent us a free replacement to try again.

Petey the dog on a couch.

Petey is 62 percent Basset Hound, 17 percent Dachshund, 12 percent Chihuahua, 3 percent Poodle and 2 percent Rat Terrier.

best dog dna test dnamydog
DNA My Dog

Best for Understanding Breeds

3. DNA My Dog Canine Premium Breed ID Test

DNA My Dog

  • What It Tests: Breed, genetic age, wolf/coyote DNA
  • Why We Love It: Focuses on ways to bond with your dog based on breed, includes genetic age
  • Breeds: 350+ breeds
  • Value: 12/20
  • Functionality: 20/20
  • Ease of Use: 15/20
  • Reliability: 10/20
  • Results Presentation: 15/20
  • Total: 72/100

We had an interesting experience testing Bowie with DNA My Dog! The results came back as 71 percent Siberian Husky, 29 percent Rottweiler. A couple years ago, Bowie’s Embark test results came back with a Siberian Husky-American Pit Bull Terrier 50-50 mix. Based on Bowie’s light yellow coat and these earlier results, Rottweiler DNA seems strange. We’re not scientists, but we definitely questioned these findings. For the price, we’d like more info on the dog’s health, too.

This testing outfit includes over 350 dog breeds in its database and gives you detailed percentages of each. The company asks that dogs don’t eat, drink or have contact with other dogs for an hour before test time. You only get one swab and have to rub it on your dog’s cheek for 20 seconds, then let it air dry for 20 minutes before inserting it in the return envelope and mailing it to DNA My Dog. In terms of health risks, this kit only shares conditions associated with the breeds in the results. Our test subject is a majority Siberian Husky, so we learned that breed is predisposed to hip dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), cataracts, epilepsy, and hypothyroidism.

The turnaround time is under two weeks (ours took 10 days). If you want a low-investment option, we recommend the Essential Breed ID Test ($80) instead of the Premium version we tried. The only perks the Premium version offers is your dog’s genetic age and whether there’s any wolf or coyote DNA. If you have specific allergy concerns, you could also purchase one of their allergen-specific kits.

Bowie, the Siberian Husky looks out the window.

Bowie, the 71-percent Siberian Husky. We're still not convinced the rest of the results were correct.

Purple box for Orivet DNA pet product
  • What It Tests: Breed, potential health risks
  • Why We Love It: Offers a detailed life plan for future vet check-ups/tests, affordability
  • Breeds: 350+ breeds
  • Value: 20/20
  • Functionality: 18/20
  • Ease of Use: 15/20
  • Reliability: 18/20
  • Results Presentation: 19/20
  • Total: 90/100

We tested Ralph, a rescue dog from rural Arkansas now living in Chicago. Ralph was a total mix, but his parents had guessed correctly that he would be part American Staffordshire Terrier (21.5 percent) and Australian Shepherd (13.6 percent). Orivet also found Tree Walking Coonhound (13.1 percent) and Cocker Spaniel (11.8 percent) DNA. Interestingly, Ralph’s vet said he has early onset glaucoma (present in many Cocker Spaniels). Ralph’s Orivet health results show he likely has Multi-Drug Sensitivity (MDR1), which means certain drugs could cause seizures—a good thing to know when visiting the vet in the future.

Orivet asks dogs not to eat for 30 minutes prior to swabbing their cheeks. Two swabs are included and each should be swabbed around the cheek for 15 seconds. Leave them to dry before plopping them in the return envelope. Orivet then compares the DNA against 350 dog breeds (keeping you in the loop with emails about when they receive the samples) to give you a certificate that clearly lists breed percentages. You'll get results back in two to three weeks (ours took 16 days, the longest of the four tests we tried). Orivet also lists all the potential health risks your dog faces based on breed results, with the likelihood your dog will develop it.

Perhaps the coolest part is Orivet’s LifePlan™, a personalized wellness plan “based on the dog breeds discovered, your dog's age, weight, gender, geographic location, and lifestyle.” But the biggest selling point is Orivet’s affordability. The more advanced test, their Geno Pet + (Breed + Health Kit), is a bit pricier but still well below the cost of other tests. If you want basic breed and health insight, you cannot beat Orivet’s prices. They also offer discount codes if you want to buy a second test.

Finally, though we didn’t need it, reviewers say Orivet customer service is top notch.

Ralph from Arkansas.

Ralph is apparently 21.5 percent American Staffordshire Terrier, 13.6 percent Australian Shepherd, 13.1 percent Tree Walking Coonhound and 11.8 percent Cocker Spaniel.

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Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her cats, Foxy and Jacques, make appearances in her work, as do her own struggles with mental health and infertility. Sarah has a Certificate in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Chicago and is working towards her Masters in Journalism at NYU.

SAshley Headshot PureWow

Freelance Writer

Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...

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Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...