Why Test Your Dog’s DNA?

At-home DNA tests have become popular in recent years, with multiple companies offering different kits that examine genealogy, health issues and more. Chances are, you’ve done one or know someone who has.

The tests are all the rage for humans, but ever wonder about your dog's lineage? Could your furry BFF be the AussiePomCheagle that’s destined for IG fame? A descendant of Lassie? Or maybe they’re related to one of those slick dogs playing poker?

In recent years, canine DNA tests have become just as popular as the human ones. More than 1 million dogs have had DNA tests in the last 10 years, and the kits themselves have become a popular gift for pet owners. We make so many assumptions about our dogs based on how they look, but wouldn’t it be cool to learn about specific breed information, hidden traits and potential health concerns?

How It Works

At-home test kits are available online or in stores including big-box retailers and make the process as easy as possible. Once you get home, channel your inner crime scene detective (Dick Wolf style) and simply swab your dog’s mouth to get started. That DNA sample can then be mailed, with the results returned within a few weeks.

Your vet or select pet clinics also may offer genetic testing, which could include bloodwork. This can be a more secure and private choice for pet owners, providing them with professional guidance once the results come in.

What We Learn

Breed

  • Through genetic testing, specific breed types can be found in mixed dogs. AussiePomCheagle or ShibaCorgle mix? Either way, its win-win.
  • The results can also determine if your dog is a purebred (classy top hat and English tea set not included).
  • With an understanding of all the breeds mixed into your pup, veterinarians can identify potential breed-related diseases and personalities.

Traits

  • Once you know the breeds that make up your dog, you can make more educated guesses about energy levels, temperament, exercise requirements and potential size. You’ll definitely be able to tell if your doggo is 12% frisbee retriever, 3% shoe destroyer (sorry about your new boots, BTW) and 67% fluff ball.
  • “Looks like you got the nose of your great-aunt Karen on your father’s side, Spot!” In other words, you’ll be able to determine where your dog’s physical traits originated. That snout that was a definitive feature proving your dog was a Labrador might actually be the result of an amalgamation of multiple breeds.

Diet and Wellness

  • You can find out about potential dietary habits and health risks related to your dog’s breeds. This allows you and your veterinarian to better prepare for your pet’s future.

You can create a preventive care plan once you know all the breeds that make up your dog. For example, you may discover one of your dog’s breed might be prone to diabetes or obesity. Knowing this information lets you create a strategic plan when it comes to food, exercise and general care. That means less pancakes and more treats and chews.

Things You Should Know

While genetic testing is popular for humans and pets, there are a few things to take note of before doing one. Not all tests have the same system, so results can vary. This is why it’s important to review the results with your vet. He or she can help determine the accuracy of the findings as well as access what information should be a concern and what’s improbable.

There are many dog DNA tests on the market, and they vary greatly in price – from $50 to $400. It’s important to remember that these tests should be done with a mindset that the information you obtain is for curiosity and entertainment purposes. We suggest inviting your friends and family to guess your dog’s breed and make a betting pool to see who gets the closest!

Responsible dog owners should review results, which may not be 100% accurate, with a professional. This test should not taint the way you look at your dog. After all, he or she is still the same pet you knew and loved before the test – even if the results are a bit of a surprise. Your dog might be 50% terrier or have a little greyhound in him or her. But, at the end of the day, he or she is still 100% perfect because they’re 100% your dog.

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