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Have you been dying to know what breeds make up your one-of-a-kind pup? Are you concerned about certain hereditary diseases your dog might develop one day?
DNA dog tests are a fun and informative way to get to understand who your pooch is — and to help you develop a better health plan for their future.
How Does Dog DNA Testing Work?
A dog DNA test is easier than you might think! All you have to do with at-home dog DNA tests is order the test online, take a simple cheek swab from your dog, place the swab in the provided container and mail it back in a prepaid envelope.
In a few weeks, you’ll receive a report that includes your dog’s DNA results. Depending on the company, you’ll see the percentage breakdown of your dog’s breeds and risks for developing some hereditary diseases. Some companies also offer parentage testing and purebred and designer dog testing.
We’ve reviewed several dog DNA tests currently on the market and given you detailed information about what you can learn from each one. All of these are at-home cheek-swab tests, but the type and depth of results you’ll receive can vary.
Embark DNA is a comprehensive dog DNA test that screens for breed identification, traits, ancestry and genetic disease risk (for 175+ known canine genetic health problems).
Your test results include a detailed vet report to help you and your veterinarian plan the best care for your dog. Embark partners with scientists from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine to conduct ongoing research into dog genetic testing — and you have the option to include your dog’s DNA data in their research.
We also like that Embark contributes funding and genetic testing to animal shelters in the U.S. and Nepal. The downside? Embark’s dog DNA test cost is higher than competitors, but we feel that the results outweigh the higher price. It is also the official dog DNA test of the Westminster Kennel Club.
Embark also offers a Whole Genome Sequencing kit, which is helpful for those of you who are science fans. This is the only dog DNA company to sequence the entire genome. You will continue to receive updates on your results after they’ve been processed and stored, as Embark extends their research and continues to learn more about dog DNA.
Kimberly, a writer for Canine Journal, tested Embark on her dog, Sally, and this is her experience.
I tested Embark in 2017, and it took more than 6 weeks to get Sally’s results. At the time, they had a 1-2 month timeline for having results back to pet parents. Today, their turnaround time is much faster (1-3 weeks).
Sally’s results said she was 47.5% Coonhound, 24.5% Mastiff, 14.2% Labrador Retriever and 13.8% German Shepherd. I loved being able to read more about her breed makeup, including breed descriptions and behaviors. Embark goes above and beyond with the detail it provides in its reports giving information about related breeds to the breeds that make up Sally.
- Save 10% when you buy 2 Breed + Health kits with Coupon Code: MULTIPACK2
- Save 15% when you buy 3 Breed + Health kits with Coupon Code: MULTIPACK3
- Save 20% when you buy 4+ Breed + Health kits with Coupon Code: MULTIPACK4
Wisdom Panel has two main DNA tests: Wisdom Panel Essential and Wisdom Panel Premium.
- Essential tests for more than 25 medical complications, 350+ breeds and more.
- Premium tests for everything the Essential tests for in addition to 200+ health risks and carrier status.
There are also a couple of other tests we’ve included in the pricing section below that are no longer offered directly through Wisdom Panel’s website, but you can purchase them through third-party vendors. These are older versions of the test that consider fewer dog breeds. (The first is the Wisdom Panel Health Canine Breed + Disease Detection, which is comparable to Wisdom Panel Premium. The other test is Wisdom Panel 3.0 Canine Breed Detection, which is similar to Wisdom Panel Essential.)
Personal Experience With Wisdom Panel 3.0
Kimberly, a writer for Canine Journal, tested Wisdom Panel on her dog, Sally, and this is her experience.
We purchased this 3.0 DNA test to conduct this product test (not a free trial).
It took only 2 weeks to get Sally’s results back from Wisdom Panel. I was thoroughly impressed with the quick turnaround.
Sally’s results said she was 37.5% Treeing Walker Coonhound, 25% Mastiff, 25% Beagle and 12.5% German Shepherd. Wisdom Panel’s information was thorough in the detail it gave on her genetic makeup and displayed it in an easy to read format. The website is easy to navigate, and I enjoyed learning more about each of these breeds.
- Wisdom Panel Premium DNA Test (350 Breeds + Disease & Trait Detection): $159.99
- Wisdom Panel Essential DNA Test (350 Breeds): $99.99
- Wisdom Panel Health Canine Breed + Disease Detection (250 Breeds & Disease Detection): $149.99
- Wisdom Panel 3.0 Canine Breed Detection (250 Breeds): $84.99
HomeDNA offers two dog DNA tests, one for mixed-breed identification and the other for health screening. Each test comes with a personalized life plan that you can share with your vet.
Because of the cost of each test, it makes the most sense to choose one of the two (otherwise we suggest Embark for the all-in-one test). If you only want health screening, however, HomeDNA’s Dog DNA Health Screen is a better value than Embark or Wisdom Panel.
If you’re only looking for breed information, you should consider HomeDNA’s Mixed-Breed Dog Identification DNA Test. Although pricier than DNA My Dog, it is far more accurate due to their huge database of recognized and developing breeds.
- for Dog DNA Health Screen and Life Plan
- for Mixed-Breed Dog Identification DNA Test and Life Plan
Although the following tests didn’t make our top 3 this time around, they’re popular options you may want to consider as well.
The DNA My Dog breed identification test just doesn’t have the bark for your buck to make our top 3. Although you get a report on your dog’s dominant breeds, personality traits and health concerns (based on breed only), DNA My Dog is mediocre compared to the breed and trait information you get with our top picks.
DNA My Dog has far fewer breeds in its database, meaning you’re not going to get the level of accuracy you would with Embark, Wisdom Panel or HomeDNA’s Orivet tests. And many reviewers agree that their test lacks accuracy. But if you’re on a budget, DNA My Dog is the least expensive alternative.
- Breed Identification Test: $68.99
- NEXTGEN Breed Identification and Genetic Age Test: $99.99
- Breed Test PLUS Wolf: $88.99
- Deceased Dog DNA Breed Testing: $167.00
- Breed Identification Test PLUS Full Genetic Screening: $188.99
- Breed Identification Test PLUS Health Plan: $99.99
- Full Genetic Health Screening: $139.99
OncoGuarDx is an at-home dog cancer detection test that measures the thermodynamic stability of DNA. Simply swab your dog’s nose and transfer it to one of the specialty treated plates provided. In just 3 minutes, the app will give you the results:
- Score < 50, Normal Stress Level STEADY HEALTH STATE
- Score = 50–60, At-Risk Stress Level SUB-OPTIMAL HEALTH STATE
- Score = 80-90, Cancer Stress Level EXACERBATED HEALTH STATE
You don’t have to send in the test or wait weeks for your dog’s results. If you get bad news, you can share the results quickly with your vet and discuss the best course of treatment.
- $199.99 for 1 kit (contains 2 tests)
- Subscription: $299.95 for 2 kits (4 tests) every 6 months
Paw Print Genetics is an excellent choice for breeders or people with purebred dogs who want to test for breed-specific diseases. You can order a single test or a panel of tests to assess the risk of your dog developing or passing on the diseases. Their website allows you to search by breed, disease/trait or symptom.
They also offer parentage tests and a DNA profiling test you can use to ID your dog in the event he gets lost or stolen. Paw Print Genetics has a very limited number of mixed-breed tests, and they don’t do breed identification.
- Starts at $80 for 1 disease test with discounts for each additional test disease ordered
- Starts at $80 for 1 coat color/trait test with discounts for each additional coat color/trait test ordered
- $49 Paw Print DNA Profiling test
- $30 Paw Print Parentage test (puppy, dam or sire)
- $19 Paw Print Clear by Parentage test
- View all options
Caution: Do Not Make Healthcare Decisions Based On Dog DNA Test Results
We want to warn you that whatever health results you receive in your dog’s DNA test should be taken with a grain of salt. Some pet parents are making life and death decisions based on what could be overstated or misleading health indicators.
For example, research may show that a specific gene mutation may be associated with cancer in Boxers, but that may not mean the same mutation will cause cancer in a Coonhound. However, the mutation would likely still show up on the Coonhound’s report, suggesting that your dog is at risk for cancer.
Any health issues that are raised by your DNA test and cause you concern should be discussed with the DNA company for clarification. The top companies all have geneticists and vets on staff who can help and likely set your mind at ease about the true risks for your pet.
Just because your dog has a genetic mutation, does not mean your dog will acquire a disease. You can also speak with your veterinarian about your dog’s DNA results but be careful making any major medical decisions based on the health indications from a pet health DNA test. The vet who has examined your dog in person knows more about your pet’s health than a DNA test taken by mail.
Finding out your dog’s breed can lead to you learning about what diseases he is predisposed to. This may cause some anxiety for you. You know what you are capable of handling better than we do, but this is something you’ll want to consider.
In some areas, certain breeds may be restricted from being owned. If you conduct a DNA test on your dog and that breed is in your dog, you may be in a difficult situation. This could lead to you not being able to buy or rent a home in the area or you may need to relocate. It could even increase your homeowner’s insurance in some situations.
You could also get false information. Whether the DNA sample wasn’t the best or there was a mix up in the lab, it is unlikely but possible to obtain inaccurate information which could lead you to adjusting your dog’s lifestyle unnecessarily.
If you find out your dog is predisposed to a health condition (or multiple), you may want to consider purchasing pet insurance now to help out financially in the event of your dog becoming ill.
So if your dog is diagnosed with an illness, pet insurance reduces the chance of having to choose between his life and your wallet (a.k.a. economic euthanasia). But, you should sign your dog up now before he is diagnosed because if you wait until diagnosis, the insurance company won’t cover it because it will be considered a pre-existing condition.
Read our pet insurance comparison to see which companies we recommend and find out what they cover.
Knowing your dog’s breed mix can help you and your vet devise a better health plan for your dog. If you get genetic mutation testing, you’ll know your dog has a genetic predisposition for certain diseases he could develop in the future.
Even knowing what breeds are in his mix can inform you about genetic health concerns associated with each breed. Then you’ll know to look for early warning signs, and you can take precautionary measures before it’s too late.
If you are interested in a DNA test for yourself, check out our review of the best human DNA ancestry tests on our sister site, Exploring Life’s Mysteries.
Discover any surprises from your dog’s DNA test?
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