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Home > Dogs > How Accurate Are Dog DNA Tests? What You Need to Know!

How Accurate Are Dog DNA Tests? What You Need to Know!

golden retriever dogs lying on the floor with their owner at home

We humans love DNA tests. We like finding out more about our genetic makeup, where our ancestors came from, and any health conditions. Now, there is DNA testing for dogs!

These tests take a look at your pup’s genetics, including breed information, and some will also give you information on any possible genetic disorders. Most DNA tests are relatively accurate, but there haven’t been enough studies to test exactly how accurate they are.

But are these tests worth it? They can be pricey, so exactly how accurate are they? We look at the good and the bad of these tests and answer commonly asked dog DNA test kit questions.

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How Exactly Do Dog DNA Tests Work?

Most DNA tests use saliva, which is sent to a lab where it’s analyzed, and the results are typically made available to you online.

It starts with swabbing your dog’s cheek with a provided cheek applicator (completely painless), which is placed in a tube. You send the sample with the provided envelope (already addressed with prepaid postage) through the postal service.

The lab runs your dog’s DNA through a database, which contains the characteristics of all breeds and the genes and mutations that can lead to specific medical conditions.

The results depend on what kind of test you purchase, as some will only give you the breed background. Read the fine print carefully so you know that you’re getting what you paid for.

Once you’ve mailed in the DNA sample, you wait for the results, which can typically take a few weeks or up to a month. In most cases, you’ll be notified by email, where you can access the results, usually through your own private dashboard on the company’s website.

Other companies might give you the option to speak with a veterinarian about your questions or concerns.

Dog Dna Test
Image Credit: Chewy

How Accurate Are Dog DNA Tests?

Different companies use different methods when testing DNA, and there has been no peer-reviewed research or publications on the accuracy of the results.

The Wisdom Panel DNA test kits are produced by Mars Petcare, which conducts its own tests and studies on its product. It states that it has 98% accuracy for identifying mixed breeds.

However, many experts worry that if there are results that highlight that a dog is predisposed to a serious health condition, this could lead to misinformation. If you receive the bad news that your dog might be carrying the gene for a disease that will eventually be fatal, this could cause undue worry. This can also lead to expensive but potentially unnecessary tests for dog owners.

Also, the studies that have been conducted on these tests have been small, and their accuracy hasn’t been validated.

But for the most part, most of these DNA tests are considered fairly accurate, particularly when pinpointing the ancestry of the breed. You shouldn’t take the health part of the test too seriously, though. Leave that to your vet.

What Information Will You Learn About Your Dog?

Most dog owners hope to identify what kind of breed their dog is. Sometimes, it can be about confirming that you have a 100% purebred dog, but it can be fun and interesting to learn what different breeds make up your dog if you have a mixed breed.

This can lead to learning more about what makes your dog act the way that they do to understand how to best keep up with their needs.

For example, if your dog doesn’t look like a Terrier but has Terrier blood, it can help you figure out why your dog likes to dig. You can also look at providing your pup with a dark and quiet place since Terriers do well with dens.

This also means finding out about your dog’s ancestry will help highlight any hidden traits that your dog may have. Sometimes, they can even help you find some of your pup’s relatives, just like with human DNA results!

You can also discover information about your dog’s health and any genetic conditions that they might be susceptible to. But don’t make any major decisions about your dog’s future based on the DNA test results.

It can help open the door for a conversation with your vet, but otherwise, the health condition might not ever happen. Veterinarians usually do DNA testing with blood samples, so you can feel more confident in your vet’s decisions and treatments than with a mail-in DIY DNA test kit.

Dog Happy
Image Credit: pixexid, Pixabay

Which DNA Test Kits Are Best?

One of the top DNA testing kits is the Wisdom Panel DNA Test Kit. This one has a database with 350 dog breeds and 1.7 million dogs that can help locate any possible relatives for your pup. This kit looks at both breed and health conditions and is well-priced compared to other health testing kits.

The Embark Breed Identification & Health Condition Kit is expensive but is also one of the best kits out there. Both Wisdom and Embark are among the top DNA-testing companies, but Wisdom has also been advertised as the most used DNA service by vets.

Do your research, read reviews, and decide if you want just to check breed information or health too. Many of these tests can be purchased as a combination of both or just one for a lower price.

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Conclusion

To some degree, dog DNA tests can be accurate. But they aren’t 100%, so you need to keep that in mind, particularly if you buy the genetic health condition option. But if you’re looking to figure out what kind of dog you have, you can give this a try.

These tests can help pinpoint what variety of breeds make up your dog, particularly if you have a rescue dog and have no idea what their background is.

However, you should speak to your vet if you’re worried about your dog’s health or any potential genetic conditions that might be in your dog’s pedigree or background. Don’t rely only on one of these tests when it comes to your dog’s health and future, as many factors come into play.

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Featured Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

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