Dog DNA Test

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon. The sun is out and looks like the perfect day to catch some fresh air outside. So you decide to take your dog for a walk. You arrive at the park and have fun with your dog. A stranger starts approaching you but there is nothing malicious in their eyes, rather they’re smiling from ear to ear gushing and blushing over your dog. They ask to pet him. You agree. The stranger plays with the dog’s fur and asks you, “Awwww… you have such a cute dog, what breed is he?”

You’re not sure what to say since you know your dog is a mixed breed. You were told he was half German Shepard, and half Golden Retriever before you inherited him so that’s what you repeat to the stranger. She tells you about dog DNA tests and you wonder what that is.

How dog DNA tests work

DNA is the genetic material present in every cell of the living thing. We as humans inherit our DNA in equal 50% portions from our biological parents. This genetic information within DNA can be traced back to generations before. The same process of DNA inheritance occurs with dogs. If you do a simple puppy DNA test to identify its parents, you would notice that that puppy inherits 50% of each of its parents’ breeds.

So in the story above, if the the information given to the dog owner was right then the dog’s parents would be one German Shepard and one Golden Retriever but it’s not uncommon for a dog to inherit more than just 2 breeds. In such a case, perhaps, the parent Golden Retriever might be mixed with a Labrador Retriever.

In the past, even if you asked a well-trained veterinarian “What breed is my dog?” he might not be able to answer and even if he did answer, his guess would not be 100% accurate. But these days, a canine breed test can answer that question with close to 100% reliability even those the results may vary if you use different test kits.  These tests cost between $80 to $450 online.

Dog genetic testing has so many uses. When the specific breeds of a dog are known, the veterinarian can know what diseases the dog might be predisposed to and most of the tests also provide this information. For example, dog health testing or a dog disease test can find if a pet Pug is prone diseases that typically affect Pugs such as Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency, an inherited metabolic disorder that affects red blood cells, and Pug Dog Encephalitis, an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system that can affect the brain, it is progressive and fatal but usually rare.

These canine DNA tests can also reveal hidden traits about your dog such when dogs carry different genes for fur color, texture or pattern. These can be more specific with dog trait test. Another use of dog breed test is that you can verify if your dog is a pure breed or not.

How dog DNA test are preformed

The canine genetic testing kit is similar to the human DNA testing kit, it contains instructions for DNA collection from your dog, a guide to register your DNA kit and return it to the company and a clear-cut explanation of the upcoming results. The sampling process usually follows this format:

  • Order or buy dog DNA testing kit
  • Sufficient saliva sample is collected from the dog
  • The sample is sent to the DNA testing company where the DNA is isolated and examined for the different gene variants and traits
  • The results are presented in a test report

How-To Tell If a Dog Is Purebred

A purebred dog has parents of the same breed and its parents weren’t interbred. The easiest but probably least accurate way to know if a dog is purebred is to compare the dog to the breed standard by checking the stature, shape and final size and other standards set by authorities like AKC.  Also an experienced veterinarian can also offer their opinion on whether the dog is purebred or not.

A better way to check, would be with pedigree papers, which are available in some countries. It is a type of dog registration where its parents and family tree are recorded. But it is not 100% reliable. The most accurate would be a puppy breed test or a canine breed test where the collected DNA is matched to a database of already known and verified dog breeds and their genes. If the dog DNA being tested matches with Boston Terrier for example, to a very high extent, then it must be a Boston Terrier purebred. It is a bit rare to find a dog that is 100% purebred, most at times there are little trace percentages of other dog breeds.

Mutt breed test

A mutt means a dog of no definable type or breed. So a synonym would be mixed-breed or cross-breed. How is a mutt made? Consider this example, a Pug and a Beagle have a puppy which is a Pug-Beagle mix. Then a Labrador Retriever and Poodle have a puppy that is a Labrador-poodle mix. When these two puppies grow to sexual age and have a puppy of their own, the new puppy will be a mutt and would have the DNA of all these 4 dog breeds.

The mutt DNA test or breed DNA test is basically a dog ancestry test to trace back what breeds of dogs the current dog in question received its DNA from. So the DNA sequence of the mutt is examined and used to create a pedigree or family tree by comparison to the reference genes from purebred dogs.

The best dog DNA Test Providers

Considering the fact that dog DNA kits are more expensive than DNA tests humans you would want to pick the best option for your best friend. Below is a summary of different tests. Embark veterinary test is most likely the best one.

Test Advantages Disadvantages
Embark ﷐     Parentage tests

﷐     Health test

﷐     Great reviews

–        Price

–        3 to 7 weeks waiting time

Wisdom Panel ﷐     Genetic Disease screening

﷐     More breeds available

﷐     2-3 weeks waiting time


–        Low number of genetic markers
Find My Pet ﷐     Affordable

﷐     Health test

﷐     Great reviews


–        No purebred test