We tested out Embark and Wisdom Panel’s dog DNA tests on the same rescue dog, Sally. We learned about her family history, breed makeup and health concerns.
Embark and Wisdom Panel sent us dog DNA test kits for free in exchange for unbiased reviews of each product. This review previously compared Embark vs Wisdom Panel 3.0, but in July 2018, Wisdom Panel sent us its updated Wisdom Panel Health test to review. This new Wisdom Panel product is more similar to Embark’s DNA test since they both offer health and breed information. This is why the dates vary on when these tests were conducted.
Embark DNA vs Wisdom Panel
The table below shows the different categories we considered when choosing the winner between the Embark Dog DNA Test and Wisdom Panel. Be sure to read each section below to see why we think one is better than the other for each category. Depending on what you are looking for, you may want to try out one dog DNA test over another.
On March 13, 2017, I swabbed Sally’s cheek for the Embark DNA test and mailed it out. On March 22 (9 days later), I heard from Embark saying Sally’s saliva sample was received. It wasn’t until May 6 (more than 6 weeks later) that I received her results.
On July 5, 2018, I swabbed Sally’s cheek for the Wisdom Panel Health test and mailed it out July 6. I received an email July 20 (14 days later) stating Sally’s results were in. I was much more impressed with the timeline for Wisdom Panel than Embark.
In this day and age, people want instant gratification and Wisdom Panel had a much quicker turnaround than Embark. To be fair, Embark did notify me saying it would take one to two months to get the results.
Update October 2018: We were informed that Embark has increased the speed of its turn around time from 6-8 weeks to 2-4 which is an improvement and comparable to Wisdom Panel’s 2-3 weeks.
I’m not going to lie, I panicked a little when I completed both the Embark and Wisdom Panel tests. Sally isn’t a drooly dog, so when I read the instructions that I needed to swab her mouth for approximately 30 seconds I wasn’t sure how much saliva I would get.
Embark’s instructions recommended I wave a treat in front of Sally to help get her drool flowing. I thought this was a nice suggestion and it ended up helping get her drool going.
I preferred the swab for Embark over Wisdom Panel—Embark’s was a cotton swab and Wisdom Panel’s was kind of similar to a mascara wand. With the Embark swab I wasn’t worried about pressing too hard into Sally’s mouth, however, with the Wisdom Panel wand I was a little worried I’d scratch her. However, I’m sure these concerns were irrational.
Both companies had easy to follow instructions, but I preferred Wisdom Panel’s because it was more simplified. Embark’s kit came with a lot of extra inserts which was a little overwhelming so I read them all a couple of times to make sure I did the test correctly.
Plus, I had to insert the swab into a container and shake it for 10 seconds, which isn’t a big deal but it was an added step to the process.
Neither one were as easy to do as a human DNA test. Looking back, I wish I would’ve waited for my husband’s help. That way one of us could have held Sally in place while the other swabbed her cheek.
Winner: Embark (by a hair)
Wisdom Panel screens for more than 150 genetic health conditions while Embark tests for more than 165.* Both test results noted if Sally was “at risk” or a “carrier” of any disease-causing mutations.
Sally’s results showed that she was a carrier for hypocatalasia (aka acatalasemia (CAT)) for both Embark and Wisdom Panel. Sally is spayed, so her being a carrier of something isn’t a big concern for us since she won’t have any offspring.
Additionally, for Embark, Sally’s results showed she is at risk for dilated cardiomyopathy (PDK4). Sally was cleared for dilated cardiomyopathy in the Wisdom Panel Health test. I’m not sure what to think here since there’s no way to confirm which test is right or wrong. In the end, I’d rather be told that she is at risk for something, so myself and our vet can be on the lookout for any symptoms of the disease.
I was able to learn more about both of these genetic conditions and Embark let me share it with my vet through Vet Report. Embark also emailed me before I received these results to give me a heads up, because learning your dog could become ill can be a bit disheartening. I thought this was a really nice gesture and won them points in my book.
To be fair, Wisdom Panel may do this as well, but since Sally didn’t have any diseases she was at risk for, this wasn’t something I received. In the end, Embark wins by a hair because it tests for more conditions than Wisdom Panel.
*Update August 2020: Embark now tests for 190+ known canine genetic health conditions, and Wisdom Panel’s newer Premium kit tests for 200.
The table and screenshots below shows the breed results I received from each company. I will discuss the results below the table.
Wisdom Panel Results:
|Treeing Walker Coonhound||37.5%|
First of all, which do I think was the most accurate dog DNA test? I definitely see the treeing walker coonhound (TWC) in my Sally’s appearance and behavior. She has the “treeing” behavior and is extremely even-tempered, she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body — all of which are characteristics of a TWC. Her ears aren’t as big as a coonhound’s ears, so I think Wisdom Panel is correct with this one and I appreciated the specificity.
Both companies said she had some type of mastiff in her. Some mastiff traits that I see in Sally include her intelligence as well as protective nature around strangers. She also tries to intimidate other dogs sometimes if they enter her space too quickly without an even playing field (aka she gets very defensive if she’s on leash and an off-leash dog is charging towards her).
German shepherd was also distinguished as one of her breed makeups in both tests. Sally can be calm when we’re relaxing or energetic when we’re playing. She is very observant and excels in obedience training. She requires a firm, consistent alpha to keep her guard instincts in check (of people and property).
Now the tough part, does she have Labrador retriever or beagle in her? Honestly, this one was tricky for me but I think the Labrador retriever is more realistic than the beagle just because of the behaviors I see in Sally. In the end, I think both companies were fairly accurate and it’s a tie. What breeds do you think are in Sally?
Wisdom Panel and Embark Dog DNA Test were both very detailed in Sally’s breed makeup. I was able to read about each breed’s description and behaviors and discuss with my husband whether or not we recognized any of those characteristics in Sally. Embark also gave descriptions of related breeds, which for me personally complicated things.
It was a bit overwhelming to read about four to six related breeds for the four different breeds Sally was made up of. I preferred Wisdom Panel’s simplicity compared to Embark’s extreme detail. However, I think it’s nice that Embark offers this option and gives you as much information as possible so you can learn about your dog. If you’re into this type of detail, you should definitely go with Embark.
Both Embark and Wisdom Panel also gave me a copy of Sally’s family tree to show what breeds her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were. This was cool to see drawn out and I could see what breeds her parents were most likely and it helped me understand Sally’s family more.
Embark is the winner here since it gives more detail in regards to related breeds.
Winner: Wisdom Panel
Embark has a very clean and nice looking website. There is so much information provided to you that I didn’t realize there were parts I could click on to get even more information. This was a little overwhelming, but everything was displayed nicely and for the price you pay for an Embark Dog DNA Test, it’s better to get too much information than not enough.
Wisdom Panel displays its information in a clean format that is easy to digest. The website is easy to navigate with areas that are clearly marked on where you should click to learn more information. This was easy for me to learn more about Sally because the results were formatted like a timeline moving from one point to the next. Opposed to Embark’s, which was formatted like a spider web with lots of bubbles coming off from different sections.
Winner: Wisdom Panel
You’ve probably come to the realization that Embark is our pick for best DNA testing for dogs. Through our research and firsthand experience, we are confident in Embark’s DNA results (learn more in our in-depth Embark Dog DNA Test Review).
What information do you want to discover about your dog?