Embark DNA vs Wisdom Panel Health: Our Firsthand Experience Winner

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Embark Dog DNA vs Wisdom Panel boxesWe 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

View Embark on AmazonView Wisdom Panel on Amazon  

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.

Turnaround Time

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.

Embark Dog DNA Test & Wisdom Panel logos

Winner: Embark Wisdom Panel (Tie)

Easiest To Use

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.
Embark logo
Winner: Embark (by a hair)

Genetic Health Screenings

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.

Embark logo

Winner: Embark

Breed Identification

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: 

Wisdom Panel Results screenshot

Embark Results: 

Embark results screenshot

 EmbarkWisdom Panel
Treeing Walker Coonhound37.5%
Labrador Retriever14.2%
German Shepherd13.8%12.5%

Sally the dog sitting
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.

Embark logo

Winner: Embark


Wisdom Panel is the easy winner here. Embark Dog DNA Test costs $189.00 while Wisdom Panel costs $135.84. Both tests give you detailed breed and health results for your pet.

Wisdom Panel logo

Winner: Wisdom Panel

User Interface

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.

Wisdom Panel logo

Winner: Wisdom Panel

Overall Best Dog DNA Test For DogsEmbark logo

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?

About The Author:

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. She has been writing about dogs since 2014, covering subjects such as dog insurance, training, health, accessories and more. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing and personally testing canine products and services. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs.

Kimberly grew up in a family that loved Labrador Retrievers and remembers running and playing in the yard with them as a child. In 2017, she and her husband adopted their Coonhound mix, Sally, from a local shelter. Kimberly's research was put to good use since Sally faced some aggression issues with other dogs and needed some training to be an inside dog. She worked daily with Sally and sought help from professionals to help Sally become the happy pup she is today.

One of Kimberly's favorite pastimes is spoiling Sally with new toys, comfy beds and yummy treats (she even makes homemade goodies for her). She tries to purchase the safest products for Sally and knows that each canine has their own specific likes and dislikes. Kimberly is passionate about dogs, and knows the bond between humans and canines is like no other.

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Leave a Reply

newest oldest most voted
On lab vs beagle, my money is on beagle because of the CAT gene result. Looks like that is known to occur in beagles and foxhounds. (Found your blog post when researching this CAT gene thing, my dog’s results had it too!)
I am more curious as to learning what products could potentially harm my dog. For instance flea and tic or heartworm. Even any potential damage to the heart during routine dental cleanings. Are these test thorough for this possible reaction to occur?
Herding dogs such as collies, Shelties, and shepherds are all susceptible to neurological issues from Ivermectin. So while the testing won’t tell you directly, knowing if they have bloodlines related to the herding dogs could certainly be of value I would think. We breed Shelties and our Vet confirmed that we should stay away from flea and Tic product with that so we use alternative preventions.
Kimberly A. Moody
No they DO test for that directly. It’s due to a specific gene mutation. MDR something but it is in there. I’m embark at least havent done the heath on the wisdom one.
They do test for those things. The heart conditions would be cardiomyopathy. And the flea and tick and heart worm is the MDR gene which means theyd.have a bad reaction possibly if they have the gene.
Obviously appearance is much less reliable than DNA, but that lovely dog of yours looks like she has Plott Hound in her, which is another coonhound breed that would demonstrate treeing behavior.
Can anyone clearly explain the different Wisdom Panel tests? It’s so confusing they have more than necessary (one breed ID and one health info). The one on amazon is the ‘best’ (according to some), yet not on their own website?
I already have Embark, which I chose mostly because I spent a lot of time reading about both, and trying to differentiate WP products irritated me! I’d like to do a comparison now. Maybe there’s another option from the vet? I haven’t seen any reviews on that, and my vet didn’t know either. Appreciate the information!
Pat Emmerson
I had both Embark and Wisdom done on a shelter dog of mine. Wisdom was so far off it wasn’t even funny, whereas Embark’s actually made sense out of my complex little dog. Wisdom had his as Cane Corso, German Shepherd Dog, Siberian Husky, and Blue Heeler (mainly), with a sprinkling of Cardigan Corgi. He is a lithe, leggy, 47-lb, wire-haired dog who excels in agility, loves water, is carries stuff in his mouth constanty; but is reactive, protective, and has a bite history. He is not predatory. He came from an Oregon shelter. Embark had him as German Shepherd Dog, Labrador Retriever, and Russel-type terrier. Spot on. Finally explained the little devil.
Courtney Coats
Hi there- I’m confused to which Wisdom Panel kit you used for this review. Was it the Wisdom 3.0 or 4.0 which are $80-$85 OR the Wisdom Panel Mixed Breed DNA Test Kit that is $99.97 on Amazon (not on Wisdom site?) OR the Wisdom Panel Health kit that is $149 on the Wisdom site. I have 8 kits to buy and would love to know the one that is the one is the one in your review to save that money.
Michelle Schenker (Admin)
Yes, that is confusing. Thanks for pointing this out. We have corrected our links. The Wisdom Panel test that we reviewed this year was the Wisdom Panel Health Kit
Courtney Coats
Great THANK YOU!! I will order that one for my 4 dogs and 4 previous foster dogs!
They’re not looking for saliva. They want the cells from the inner cheek. 30 seconds of rubbing will rub enough cells off. It doesn’t matter if the swab isn’t particularly wet.
Courtney Pizzo
Embark has two different swab types: one meant for collecting cheek cells, and one meant for collecting saliva.
Ed A
I already know what breed my dog is, she is a AKC/ OFA Newfoundland. For me it is all about finding out health tendancys. I found out the OFA accepts heath tendances from embark but not wisdom panels. That clinched it for me!
Jonathan Strahan
Since you accepted an Embark product from them, I consider your ‘review’ pretty much worthless. Next time, don’t accept samples from those you are reviewing.
I would also point out that any review you read for books, movies, music–none of those things were paid for by the reviewer. Critics are regularly sent free copies or screeners for an unbiased review. It doesn’t make their opinions less accurate or relevant.
Tania M
Jonathan Strahan Why is that such a big deal if the person doing the review is honest in the review?
Note that Wisdom Panel 4.0 includes full genetic testing now. It’s also got a very detailed set of information about the breeds that comprise your dog’s DNA now, too. With that information, I cannot imagine coughing up over $100 more for Embark now.
C Chand
This kind of reads like you got paid or otherwise compensated to endorse Embark. Their prices are outrageous and Wisdom Panel is proven to be more accurate at breed ID. BTW, it doesn’t matter if your neutered pup is a carrier for any disease… carrier means they don’t have a disorder/disease, but can pass the disease down to their offspring. So that info is useless… 99% of people with a mixed breed dog have them spayed/neutered since they most likely got them from a rescue/shelter.
Tania M
C Chand If 99% of people with mixed breeds got theme spayed/neutered ,shelters wouldn’t be overflowing as they are,because that would make a difference. Sorry,but that statement is simply not true. And as someone who has adopted dogs from a shelter, am an animal lover and worked at the SPCA,I would find it beneficial to know if my dog was the carrier of a disorder/disease. And I think other people would think that way too,especially if they (unfortunately) decided to breed their dog. It could make them (hopefully,and for more reasons than one) reconsider doing so. Which would be good especially if we’re talking about dogs abandoned to shelters.
This review was extremely helpful and informative. Thanks for sharing your experience – I am looking into both of these DNA tests as I have heard good things about each. I am wondering if you used the Wisdom Panel 3.0 or 4.0? It looks like the 4.0 has a health screening aspect to it, so maybe that would yield more complete results. The WP4.0 is the test I am leaning towards at this point as I am more interested in breed identification and low-cost option, but I understand the importance of health screening too.
Emily W
Which wisdom panel test did you use? It looks like they have a Wisdom Panel Health that includes the health screens
Has anyone done both an Embark test and a blood test at their vet clinic like Royal Canin? I would be interested to hear that comparison
Kimberley, I just received my EMBARK results and compared to Wisdom Lab’s the EmbarkVet Breed analysis was a bit of an anti climax! In terms of breed analysis alone, I tend to believe WP’s more as I do see the physical ( phenotypical) traits of the breeds identified in my pup.I’d like to post her breed analysis as jpegs but not sure how to on your blog.

EMBARK- 100% EASTASIAN Village Dog with Traces of Siberian Husky
WP- 25%Chow, 25% Chinese Sharpei, 12.5% German Shepherd, 37% unknown

With regard to the beagle vs lab … could the difference also be due to the fact that Embark only tests for 150 breeds vs. wisdom panel which test for 250? Maybe because of the additional breeds wisdom panel offers, they were able to narrow the genetics more closely? I don’t know … but I have 2 tests in my hands right now (Embark and WP) and have 2 dogs to test … one I think might have Agentine Dogo in her and Embark doesn’t show that breed on their list but I REALLY want the medical history!!! Ohhhh the decisions!!! LOL
This is soo awesome, I knew Sally looked like she had some Coon in her. I want to do this for my dog now!