Embark Dog DNA Test Reviews: Is Your Mixed Breed (Or Age) A Mystery?

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Have you been pondering about giving your dog a DNA test but heard that they’re unreliable? You’ll be happy to know, that’s not the case with Embark’s newest at-home dog genetic testing kit.

Thanks to recent scientific advances, Embark now offers the most accurate at-home dog DNA test available on the market — for breed identification and genetic health risks. They also sell an age test that helps you understand their stage of life so you can plan accordingly with their nutritional and supplement needs (and celebrate their birthday).

Visit Embark DNA’s Website

Embark Dog DNA Test Overall Rating

4.75/5.0

Our team determines the overall rating based on several factors, including ease of testing, health screening options, breed identification accuracy and detail, pricing, customer support, and more.

Pros & Cons Comparison Table

ProsCons
Tests for 350 breeds, types, and varieties (or age)Breed + Health test is relatively expensive
Identifies 200,000 genetic markers, twice as much genetic information as most other companies
Genetic mutation testing for 215 canine health conditions
Results back in 2-4 weeks
Free replacement swab if yours gets damaged
Includes a relative finder, matching your dog’s DNA to possible family members
Charitable work with animal shelters
Live chat or email available if you need help interpreting test results
Positive customer feedback that Embark is the most accurate dog DNA test
Ability to get raw DNA data

Key Features Of DNA Test

  • Most scientifically advanced at-home dog DNA test available, testing for 350+ breeds, types, and varieties (also sell a test that tests for a dog’s age)
  • Simple cheek-swab test
  • Results in 2-4 weeks in most cases
  • Tests for 215 known canine genetic health problems
  • Screens for 35+ physical traits
  • Looks at 200,000 genetic markers — twice as many as most competitors
  • Developed by veterinarians and partners with Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in ongoing research into genetic testing for dogs (you have the option to include your dog’s DNA data in their bioinformatics research).
  • Contributes funding and genetic testing kits to animal shelters in the U.S. and Nepal
  • Official dog DNA test of the Westminster Kennel Club
  • Embark has published the first novel discovery made from non-human direct-to-consumer genomics data, the genetic basis of blue eyes in Siberian Huskies
  • With Embark’s Dog DNA Breed Identification Kit, you get:
    • Breed Identification: a breakdown of your dog’s breed mix
    • Family Tree: a family tree that goes back to great-grandparents
    • Relative Finder: a list of pups in the database that are related to yours
    • Breed Mix Match Buddies: Find and view other dogs with similar breed mixes
  • Embark eGift cards are available in $50, $75, $100, $125, $150, $200 increments. Give one to a friend or family member so they can pick out their own DNA test kit.

Other Embark Tests: Age, Gut & Oral Tests

Beyond DNA, Embark now allows you find out all sorts of information about your dog. Their age test measure’s a dog’s chronological (calendar) age using DNA methylation (with 98% accuracy to estimate within 5 months).

They have also partnered with AnimalBiome to offer canine microbiome products. You can test their oral health and gut health so you can make even more informed health decisions for your pet.

When bacteria in the gut are out of balance or key beneficial bacteria are missing, your dog may experience distress. Imbalances in gut bacteria could cause diarrhea, constipation, skin, and behavioral issues. The gut health test helps you find out what’s really going on inside your dog’s digestive system and understand how to address any possible concerns. In addition, the oral health test can help identify the cause of bad breath, gum disease, tooth loss, tooth decay, and other oral health issues. Both tests give you personalized recommendations and let you share the results with your vet.

Price

  • Breed Identification Kit$129
  • Breed + Health Kit$199
  • Purebred Kit$199
  • Breeders Dog DNA Test Kit$149
  • Dog Age Test$159
  • Gut Health Test$99
  • Oral Health Test$99

Coupon

Looking for the latest Embark promo code? Visit our dedicated Embark coupon article with the most up-to-date seasonal offers and discounts.

What Did We Discover With Our Dog’s Embark DNA Tests?

Breed + Health Mixed Breed Dog

Embark Dog DNA Test breed box

Michelle, the co-founder of Canine Journal, had the opportunity to try this test out on her rescue dog, Bella, thanks to a free sample from Embark (this did not bias our review). Previously, she had tried another DNA test on Bella using Wisdom Panel but was very disappointed with the results. Below is her testimonial.

Wisdom Panel said she was a mixed breed Pit Bull/Bulldog, with no signs of Labrador Retriever. However, for anyone that has ever met this dog, she is a lab through and through. Mixed breed? Yes. But no Lab at all? No way! We were very surprised and felt a little like we had wasted our money on the Wisdom Panel test.

Embark, on the other hand, gave more accurate results with the majority being Pit Bull and Labrador Retriever and some minor genes for Chow, Husky, Golden Retriever, and “Supermutt.” In other words, I would’ve paid for this test to know her true genetic makeup the first time around had I known (and had it been available when I did the first test). Sure, it’s more expensive but better than throwing away money on a test that was only partially accurate.

Embark also surprised me by sending health-related genetic markers for Bella. Per her DNA reading, Bella is not at risk for any genetic concerns, but she is a carrier for Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Progressive rod-cone degeneration (PRCD Exon 1) which are both eye conditions. She is spayed so this will not be passed along to future generations, and we can rest assured that she should continue to be healthy – hooray!

An Overview Of My Experience With Both Wisdom Panel And Embark:

Pie graph showing test results: Bella's Embark DNA Test Reults
  • The test process is the same for both companies (cheek swab and mail in the sample).
  • The waiting period for results was fairly comparable (1-3 weeks with Embark vs. 2-3 week with Wisdom Panel).
  • The price is higher for Embark ($150 for Wisdom Panel ($80 if breed only) vs. $199 for Embark ($129 if breed only)). Be sure to check the above for promotions to get a lower price on Embark.
  • However, if I am spending the time and money to get a DNA test for my dog, I would rather have a more accurate result. So, if I had to do it again, I would pay the extra cash for Embark, especially since it also provides health concern information, too.

What Does Embark’s “Wolfiness” Score Mean?

Bella got a high wolfiness score of 3.1% (most dogs score 1% or less). Does that mean she’s part wolf? No, but she has inherited more wolf genes than many other dogs. A wolfiness score below 10 doesn’t mean your dog is a product of a recent dog-wolf mating.

Almost all wolfiness scores below 10 are from ancient wolf genes that have been passed down multiple generations — possibly even dating back to 15,000 years ago when people began domesticating wolves.

Purebred Dog DNA Test Kit Review

Georgie the Cavalier with Embark Purebred Test
Georgie the Cavalier with Embark Purebred Test

Sadie tested the purebred kit on Georgie, her Cavalier, King Charles Spaniel. It was easy to activate the kit, swab Georgie’s cheek, and send in the results. They ask a series of questions about the dog’s personality and behaviors during the setup, collecting data for ongoing research efforts. Embark sends email updates throughout the testing process, letting you know when the kit is received, sent to the lab, and when the results are ready. From mail-in to results, it takes about two weeks.

The results showed that Georgie is, in fact, 100% Cavalier. It also indicates your dog’s genetic diversity and level of inbreeding, explaining how closely related his ancestors are. The lower the percentage, the healthier your dog is likely to be. They compare the gene diversity to other purebred dogs in the Embark database. The test provides a wolfiness score and predicts your dog’s age in human years (Georgie is 13 months old, the equivalent of 18 human years).

Embark DNA Genetic Diversity and Inbreeding Results
Embark DNA Genetic Diversity and Inbreeding Results

The relative finder shows other dogs who took Embark’s test and ranks them by those who share the most DNA. Georgie has a 64% overlap with another dog who lives in the same geographic area. Using Embark’s messaging, Sadie reached out to the dog’s parents and confirmed the dogs are related (Georgie’s grandfather was the other dog’s dad).

Embark gives a detailed report of health conditions your purebred is at risk for if any. Georgie inherited both variant copies of Intervertebral Disc Disease (Type 1). Your summary provides an in-depth interpretation of the health results, what having the variant could mean for your pet, and how common it is for your breed. You also receive an email from a Veterinary Geneticist at Embark with more details.

All the results are sharable via PDF, public link, or email, making it easy to send to your vet, breeder, or anyone else who might be interested in the results. You can also change your privacy settings to keep the information private.

Embark Dog DNA Age Test Review

We had the opportunity to test out Embark’s newest product the age test. Here are our results.

“When we rescued Lily, the shelter estimated her age at 5 years old. The vet looked her over and thought she was 4. But, based on this new information from Embark, it looks like she was likely only 3 years old when we adopted our sweet girl! While she is now 13.5 years old according to the Embark Dog Age Test, we find comfort in knowing she will likely be with us for a few more years given her current health condition.”

– Michelle S., Canine Journal
Lily’s Embark Age Test results.

Embark Gut Health Test Review

We got the opportunity to try out the gut health test and wanted to share our experience. Unlike other DNA tests that use a cheek swab, the gut health test collects a stool sample from your dog to analyze the microbiomes in their gut. The process is a little messier, but Embark makes it easy (and clean) to get a good sample. Simply bring back the poop bag from a walk, and use a wooden stick (provided in the kit) to break open the stool so you can get a good sample without dirt from where it touches the ground. They even provide rubber gloves so you can be extra careful. Using a cotton swab stick, you’ll select a clean piece of their poop and stick it in the test tube provided.

Georgie cavalier sniffing box of Embark's gut health test kit open with all the things it comes with.
The gut health test kit comes with everything you need, including a fecal scoring chart.

Activate your kit using the barcode number (before mailing back) and drop it off at a post office or any mailbox (since the return envelope is pre-paid). During the registration process, you’ll be asked a number of questions about your dog’s age, health, diet, medications, and other symptoms they may be experiencing currently. This helps their experts better have a big picture of what other factors could play into your dog’s gut health.

Within a few weeks, you’ll get the results back in a “report card” with a summary, insights, bacteria breakdown, appendix, and the ability to share the results with your vet. Everything was a little technical to understand at first glance, but they offered the option of you talking with a specialist to go over what the analysis means. The specialist calls you directly (within a day) and spends up to 30 minutes or so answering any questions you have.

“Upon getting my results back from Embark’s gut health test, I talked to a specialist who reviewed the results with me via phone. She was very thorough in translation with the various bacteria types are and how they impact your dog’s gut health. Luckily our dog is only two and a half at the time he took the test, so he is still relatively healthy and didn’t have any issues that would be cause for concern other than an imbalanced microbiome (none harmful or missing). However, she explained that identifying imbalances in younger dogs can help you prevent certain issues over time. The way to balance their system is to counterbalance the bacteria and push out the ones not needed and replace them with ones that do with a DoggyBalance Gut Restore product they recommend (which is made from dog’s fecal matter).”

– Sadie C., Canine Journal
Screenshot of Embark's gut health test results
Part of Georgie’s gut health results to give you an idea of what to expect. You can click on the black “i” icon next to each bacteria type to learn more.

Embark Oral Health Test Review

We also tried out the Oral Health Test from Embark. The process was the same as the DNA test, where you swab the inside of your dog’s cheek with a stick and put it into a test tube. Similar to all the other tests, activate it and send it back. Within a few weeks, we received the results. It did an excellent job analyzing the results based on our dog’s breed and age. It gave insights into the oral microbiome and the four different bacteria types (periodontal, aerobic, anaerobic, and potential pathogens). They also gave dental recommendations for keeping a healthy teeth cleaning regimen to stay proactive in preventing gum disease (which is reversible in many cases if caught early). Here’s a screenshot of what to expect with the Oral Health Test results.

You can also click on the periodontal and potential pathobionts tabs to learn more.

How Does Dog DNA Testing Work?

Check out Embark’s video to see how their dog DNA test works and what it can tell you about your pup.

Is The Embark Dog DNA Test Worth It?

Visit Embark DNA’s Website

Embark is slightly more expensive than its competitors. However, if you want to know all you can about your dog and feel confident in the results, we believe Embark is worth it. Its genetic health screening is, paws down, the best you’ll find for an at-home dog DNA test (Embark blows other DNA dog tests out of the water). You also get breed identification results from the same DNA test.

Be sure to check out our dog DNA test reviews and best dog DNA test article to see how other tests compare to Embark. Learn more about Embark DNA in our interview with its veterinary geneticist and also with its co-founder Ryan Boyko.

If you genetically test your dog and find that it is predisposed to certain chronic illnesses, you may consider pet insurance. Read our pet insurance comparison to see which company we ranked #1.

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The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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