Did you know that you can also DNA test your dog?!
You might be curious about where your beloved pet comes from, especially if your dog is an unknown mix of breeds.
Maybe you rescued your pet and are curious about what kind of dog you have?
DNA testing can help you there—though bear in mind that even if the results indicate only one breed, you won’t be able to register your dog with the American Kennel Club on the strength of DNA alone. The AKC still requires a documented pedigree.
Or let’s say you’ve got a new puppy who is a mixed or unknown breed. How big will your pup get? How much will it weigh when it grows up? DNA testing will give you an idea.
And on a practical level, testing your dog can alert you to potential health problems down the road. Certain dog breeds are known for specific health troubles.
Many doggie DNA tests offer health screening services that will identify potential issues like hemophilia, glaucoma, multidrug sensitivity, and more.
Of course, this information really only indicates probability—how susceptible is your dog to a certain set of issues? It’s certainly no substitute for a qualified vet! However, knowing these odds will help you take care of your dog. You’ll know if there are certain symptoms to watch out for or specific issues to prevent.
Different tests provide different levels of detail. Things to consider when selecting a DNA test for your dog include:
- How many breeds does the testing company have in its database? Many testing companies don’t include all known breeds, so you should check which ones are covered. In general, the more breeds included the better.
- How many genetic markers are tested and identified by the test? The more markers tested, the better the test is.
- How many health risks does the test screen for? Again, the more the better. A test that screens for around 150 genetic health risks will provide you quite detailed information about your pet. Some tests don’t provide detailed health screening at all; they merely identify the breed and note the breed’s typical health concerns. But if you just wanted information on a specific breed, you could look up the breed’s Wikipedia page! What you want from a DNA test is information specific to your unique dog.
The bottom line: do your research! Get concrete information on how each test handles the above factors.
Higher quality, more detailed tests will naturally be more expensive, so it will be up to you to balance the quality of the test against your available budget. As a starting point, I recommend looking into Embark and Wisdom Panel, two reputable companies for testing your dog’s DNA.
So all in all, if you’re curious about your dog’s particular mix of breeds, or if you want to be forewarned about potential health risks, you can consider sending your dog’s DNA off for testing as well as your own!