DNA testing for dogs is a booming field of the pet industry. Playing on the curiosity of dog owners as well as the actual health risks assessment needs of dog breeders, dog DNA tests are fascinating. You will have a fun time reading the results, for sure! But concretely, dog DNA checks provide valuable insights about your dog’s genetic makeup and health risks.
Wisdom Panel and EmbarkVet are the overall most popular genetic testing companies for dogs but we also love Paw Print Genetics for their more granular and targeted battery of canine genetic tests. DNA testing is broken down into two main categories:
- health testing — assess how much at risk your dog is for hundreds of medical inherited conditions
- breed testing — discover what breeds are making up your dog’s family tree, and by how much
Further than these tests, some companies also detect and test genetic mutations for more comprehensive reporting.
Dog DNA testing is not an instantaneous process, it takes a while from the time you order your kit to the moment you can finally read the results. Genetic testing for dogs is made up of several stages:
- Ordering the dog DNA kit
- Collecting samples of saliva or blood from the dog
- Shipping the DNA-packed samples
- Analysis of the samples at the company’s lab
- Receiving the results — online or offline
As you can imagine with so many stages, you do want companies that invest in their customer service. A package may get lost, you may have questions regarding the sampling step, and you may find results unclear. Either way, don’t go for the cheapest DNA test out there to avoid inaccurate results and frustrating call centers.
Save the below video for a tutorial on how to perform a swab on your dog – this is with an EmbarkVet DNA sample kit but they all work the same.
Different Types of Canine DNA Tests
Choosing the right DNA test for your dog depends on why you are seeking DNA testing in the first place. Dog breeders want to clear their breeding stock from common ailments in the breed. Family pet owners are simply curious about the breed makeup of their mutt.
Breed Profiling DNA Tests
A breed profiling DNA test will determine the exact breed of your dog. More than that, it can determine what breeds are present in the history of the dog’s background genealogy.
It’s common for dog owners to be curious about their pet’s genetic history. More often than not, dogs will be picked up from a kennel, found, or be given as a gift. Owners are completely unaware of the type of breed they are working with. Many will use the general term “mutt” or just “mixed breed” to describe their pet which can translate to a number of things.
Many dog owners will purchase a canine DNA test out of sheer curiosity. This can prove to be beneficial on several levels. First, you will have the knowledge of whether your dog is a purebred or mutt and know what the blood of your pet is actually made up of. Second, the information gained from your breed’s background will tell you where they came from, how, when, and why they were developed. Additionally, knowing what type of breed you are working with can provide invaluable information that will help predict certain behavioral patterns, their expected size and weight, genetic traits, as well as their genetic type for certain health issues.
Health Checks DNA Tests
Health DNA tests for dogs target one or multiple genetic markers to check whether your dog is affected or a carrier of a specific medical condition. Most dog DNA checks test for dozens or hundreds of health conditions with a single swab. Other canine DNA testing companies prefer to target a smaller number of ailments in order to increase their accuracy rate.
Each purebred dog breed carries its own unique set of common anomalies and diseases. Some of DNA tests are designed to include health screenings that can check over 100 genetic markers. These genetic markers are normally associated with common diseases targeting particular breeds.
Knowing what health issues your dog is likely to inherit or develop in the future greatly ensures better breeding programs and planning. With such preparation, the overall quality of your bloodline will only increase. Growing and spreading medical conditions can be quarantines at an early stage. This will give pet owners and breeders a head start on a prevention plan which will, in turn, enable them to take precautionary measures when possible at the earliest time.
With this information, dog owners can watch for common symptoms of these diseases and therefore, tackle the problem before it grows. This will greatly improve your dog’s quality of life and even help extend it. This is why having a very accurate testing done is important as you do not want to make the mistake of misdiagnosing a faulty test result.
One of the main and most common concerns of any dog owner is whether or not their dog is susceptible to disease or any inherited genetic anomalies. After all, every pet owner would like to have some idea of their pet’s life expectancy and increase it when possible. Think of dog health DNA tests as a blurry crystal ball!
Full Dog DNA Tests
Some tests integrate the two types of DNA tests by providing a complete informational kit based on both breed profiling, as well as the health screening for a particular dog breed.
Full dog DNA checks are more expensive than singular-purpose testing because they provide a more comprehensive result. Full DNA tests require a single input of either blood or saliva swab. The company’s lab will check for both breed profiling of the dog and its history, as well as hundreds of possibilities of potential diseases and conditions.
How to Pick the Right DNA Test for Dogs?
The right choice for a dog DNA test is based on the type of tests you want to perform, as well as logistic considerations. DNA testing requires you to receive a kit, collect a saliva or blood sample, ship it to the company’s lab, and await results. A lot can go wrong at each step from missing packages to inaccurate results due to mix-ups.
High-quality and reliable DNA testing companies for dogs are not cheap for a reason. Be prepared to shell out up to $200 for comprehensive tests, and half the amount for simpler and singular DNA checks.
Type & Functions
In order to choose the right DNA test for your dogs, first, you must determine what type of DNA test you want to perform and what is your motive. The type and function of the test you will be using will be directly dependent on your reason for testing.
What do you want to know about your dog? Are you just a curious dog owner wondering about your dog’s breed history or perhaps you have no idea what your dog’s breed really is. Then you would need a test specifically that tests for that. Some dog owners want to confirm that their dog is, in fact, a purebred dog and these tests can give them the definite confirmation they seek.
Do you want to check for food sensitivities? Or perhaps the reason you want to perform a test is for health reasons. Then you would need a specific DNA test type that tests for potential inherited diseases and health issues.
You need a test that will give you accurate results each and every time. Not all do. The marketing of DNA tests has become a booming industry, and for this reason, there is a lot of fake products on the market. It is imperative you do not fall for this and always choose a high-quality, reputable test maker.
Many of these tests are giving inaccurate results. In order to avoid this mistake, always check reviews online of the particular test you plan to purchase. Just make sure the reviews are legit and not paid reviews by the company themselves. Talk to others who have purchased the test and always do your research. Unfortunately, this problem is more prevalent than one would imagine. There have been anonymous tests done by the same dog that was given various tests for DNA and received a different result for each test. It is imperative that dog owners are aware of this when choosing the right test.
Keep on reading this article as we have a top list of the best dog DNA tests handpicked for you.
Make sure you choose the right test that is comprehensive in its approach in regards to what you wish to achieve. As mentioned, not all tests are designed the same, nor do they all test for the same traits and breeds.
Some DNA health screening tests only test a limited number of genetic markers. For example, if you want your test to detect specific sensitivities and health conditions, then ensure that the test you are purchasing tests for hundreds of them and not just a few. You need a test that will target a wide range of markers to not limit the resultset.
Some tests do not screen for genetic mutations that make your dog prone to genetic heredities. Likewise, some of the breed profiling tests specialize in testing mixed breed samples, as opposed to tests that test for one type or two. Therefore, these are really helpful for dog owners who own a mutt.
When dealing with dog DNA tests, it is important you are aware of how the prices are structured. This factor is a bit more difficult to evaluate as their usual structure on accurate pricing tends to be a bit confusing and erratic. Nonetheless, make sure you know all the prices that you are dealing with. The pricing is not always concrete and fixed so consider the price for:
- the kit itself,
- the shipping the swab or blood to the lab,
- the processing and shipping of the results, and
- any premium for a more comprehensive reporting.
The collection kit itself has its own costs apart from all the other factors involved in testing. You also will have to pay a separate fee just for the lab work and also the results to be sent to you. Furthermore, some companies will even charge premiums for a comprehensive analysis and more accurate results.
Knowing this is crucial when choosing that right test kit: you do not want to feel ripped off! This basically means you get what you paid for. Don’t shy away from expensive testing because that costly test can, more than likely, guarantee you a more accurate reading. If the test is cheap in standard comparison, then it may not be the real deal and you will suffer the consequences of having faulty test results. This can lead to a lot of confusion and stress down the road as you will never be too sure.
Timing & Logistics
Make sure you are aware of all the details that go into DNA sampling, testing, sending in and receiving. It tends to be a systematic process and quite a simple one at that.
However, the best DNA tests out there are clear about their process and timeline. Figure out how long the entire process will take from ordering your kit to receiving your detailed analysis (online or offline).
Research well and be aware of how the logistics work as well. Ask yourself a few questions before ordering:
- how many samples will be required for the testing?
- how many samples do I need to send in for testing?
- what address do I send the samples to?
- will the samples be analyzed it the US or in China?
All these factors come into play and will directly play their part in whether the test sampling and accuracy of results are successful.
Top 5 Best Dog DNA Tests
Here is our list of the top 5 best DNA tests for dogs ranked by how accurate we found them to be through experience and compiling reliable online reviewers. Pricing can vary from around $80 to $200 depending on how comprehensive you want your canine DNA test to be.
Keep in mind that pricier DNA tests seem to have more accurate results as per reviews.
The Embark DNA test is a comprehensive battery of tests providing accurate results for breed identification, ancestry, and genetic disease risks, as well as traits. It can screen for over 165 well known canine genetic health issues. This one tests for both paternal and maternal lines and all the way back to the grandparent’s line of your dog.
The test by Embark DNA checks up to 256 quadrillion genes as well as over 250 different dog breeds, and 200,000 genetic markers. One interesting concept is that it can verify if any coyote or wolf is in the bloodline. Just simply activate your profile online to receive the test, swab your dog’s cheek, bag it, and send it out. The results are delivered through an interactive online guide that can be viewed by desktop, mobile devices, or printable copies.
EmbarkVet DNA test seems to be a top favorite in the marketplace today. Based on reviews, Embark provides astounding communication to customers and provides near 100% accurate results. Buyers appreciate the comprehensive approach in which they can learn about both breed and health statistics of their pet. The cons associated with this product include the high price and results tend to take longer to be sent back. MDR1 is tested at no additional charge.
The current price of Embark DNA tests is $199.
2. Wisdom Panel
Wisdom Panel DNA tests target for ancestry and disease risk, traits, and breed identification. It is a very comprehensive DNA test brand and has been highly esteemed over the years. It screens for 250 breed tests and allows for testing of designer dogs, purebred, or mixed breeds back to three generations.
Remarkably, t is the only officially licensed dog DNA test in the United States that offers the MDR1 drug sensitivity screening with no extra costs. With the ability to test over 140 genetic health conditions and 1,800 genetic markers tested, it also includes 99% of AKC recognized breeds. It comes with two swabs for your dog’s cheeks so users just need to swab, activate the kit online, and send the kit into the lab with pre-paid shipping.
This brand has been known to confirm a lot of dog owner’s suspicions regarding their mutt’s ancestry with high-level accuracy. Users claim the Wisdom Panel succeeded at constructing a family tree confirming three generations. The downside associated with this brand is that it may give a large percentage to the “other”-labeled categories of mixed dog breeds. Thus may not give users the results they want by making results somewhat difficult to read, if not opaque.
The Wisdom Panel Health combines both breed and disease detection and averages out to $149.99. The Wisdom Panel 4.0 for only canine breed detection totals out to $84.99.
3. Paw Print Genetics Tests
The canine DNA test by Paw Print Genetics is an excellent choice for dog owners specializing in purebred dogs who desire to test for breed-specific diseases. Users can order one single test or order a panel of varied tests to check for any risks associated with developing diseases or the passing of.
The Paw Print Genetics website allows dog owners to search by specific breed, trait, symptom or disease which makes their online database extremely user-friendly. This brand of DNA testing offers profiling tests in order to correctly ID your pets, in any event, he may get lost or stolen. Percentage tests are also available. However, Paw Print Genetics does not conduct breed identification and their mixed-breed tests are very limited in number. They are able to analyze mutations with two independent methods, offering over 155 genetic mutations tests for health concerns.
Users appreciate the genetic counseling that is available and excellent customer service. The Pedigree Report and Genetic Health Certification is a nice addition to their services as well. Shipping is fairly quick as users receive their tests within two weeks. However, these tests can prove to be quite expensive when testing for multiple diseases. It can get confusing when trying to figure out which tests to order for your dog. Pricing for Paw Print Genetics tests vary but here are some examples:
- $80 for a single-disease test (with discounts offered),
- $80 for a single-trait/color test (discounts offered),
- $49 for a DNA profiling test,
- $30 for a parentage test (puppy, sire, or dam), and
- $19 for a Clear by Parentage Test.
HomeDNA offers dog owners two types of testing, one for health and the other for breed identification. Unlike comprehensive testing from other brands, these come separately each with their own price.
The great thing about the HomeDNA is that each test comes with a personalized life plan that you can share with your personal vet. This means your dog receives a playtime and diet routine personally customized for his needs or individual medical risks. HomeDNA tests target 220 breeds and excel at indicating health issues in comparison to the other higher brands on the market. Their breeding identification is highly accurate due to their large database of recognized and even developing breeds. Genetic mutation testing is available for over 150 canine health issues.
Consumers report HomeDNA as a reputable dog DNA test with absolutely great customer service and response times. Although one customer did not receive the results in the time specified, they were able to get the matter handled promptly without any problems. Results tend to be on the high margin of top DNA testing brands.
Online reviews sway towards a more negative approach as many users complain of random, faulty results causing many to claim this test was a waste of money. In regards to pricing, this one tends to be pricier than most brands on the market. They offer two separate tests, each priced at around $125.
5. Find My Pet Dog DNA Test
With a wait time of 2 weeks, the Find My Pet testing brand offers a more cost-friendly cheap dog DNA test alternative to the other top brands. This is the only kit available for purchase that provides both a breed screening as well as a health check screening for under the $100 mark. With just one swab of the cheek and sending it in for analysis, you can learn about your dog’s characteristics, personality, and training levels.
With an unbeatable price of $89.95, the Find My Pet Dog includes a custom photo certificate that shows your dog’s unique DNA composition. The shipping offered is free and fast. This test is ideal for the less serious, but rather curious, dog owners that do not need many markers or care to get that specific.
Users rave about the ultimate convenience of how easy it is to use and send, giving praise to the fast delivery. Despite the lower cost, most buyers recommend this DNA test and believe it shows accurate readings for the most part. The instructions tend to be very easy to read and follow and the website is easy to navigate. The low cost of this cheap dog DNA test does not seem to affect its validity as a reputable source for canine DNA testing according to the majority of online reviews.