What You Need to Know to Choose the Best Dog DNA Test for Your Pet
Spending on pets is zooming upward and we're not just talking the essentials (like puppy supplies), aesthetics (such as a perfect dog bed) and last but certainly not least seasonal must-haves (duh, an absolute most fabulous Halloween costume). We want to really understand and care for our pups, and 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? Here's an overview.
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 tests 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?
While a number of companies test for genetic predispositions for diseases, a selling point for pet owners concerned with early detection of their pet's illnesses, 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, veterinarian and medical doctor cautioned against the lack of validation and imprecise results or interpretation in results. 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.
1. Embark Dog DNA Test Kit | Breed & Genetic Ancestry Discovery | Trait & Health Detection
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. Additionally, it tests for more than 200 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. It's doggie open adoption!
2. Wisdom Panel Premium, New and Improved Dog DNA Test for Comprehensive Health, Traits and Ancestry
This swab kit tests for more than 211 diseases and compares your dog's DNA with 97 percent of all the breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. It's priced at the sweet spot of affordability and 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. The collection method on this kit involves two bristles, which you swab on your pet's cheek then fasten inside the collection box to let dry before sending to the lab.
3. Dna My Dog - Canine Breed Identification Test Kit - at-Home Cheek Swab Kit - Personality Traits
This testing outfit includes 87 dog breeds in its database and gives you the top four breeds in your dog's genetic makeup, not the detailed percentages of other kits. But at the price, and with a turnaround time under two weeks, this is a great low-investment option (and fun gift for yourself if you want to settle once and for all what the family rescue dog actually is).
4. DNAffirm Dog DNA - Canine Breed Identification Test - Home Cheek Swab Kit
The main selling point here is twofold: you get a detailed personality report for your dog, based on the species that their DNA reveals. And you get a certificate with the dog's photo, name and component breeds. So if you're shopping for a personalized gift for someone who is obsessed with their dog, they'll love this...just plan ahead to swab their pet on the down low.
5. Orivet Mixed-Breed Identification & Life Plan Dog DNA Test Kit
A quick swab of your dog's cheek and Orivet compares the DNA against 350 dog breeds to give you a certificate that clearly lists breed percentages. You'll get results back in a month or less.