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At-home DNA tests are getting more and more popular, and it’s easy to understand why. Who hasn’t wanted to learn more about their family’s ancestral past or uncover hidden facets of their personal heritage? Services like 23&me tap into something innately human—but if you thought that was all there was to DNA testing, think again. As it turns out, there are plenty of services out there that also tap into something innately, well, canine.
If you’re the proud owner of a mixed-breed pup, you’ve probably spent some time wondering what exactly went into your dog’s genetic makeup. Dog DNA tests are your chance to find out—as well as learn crucial health details, devise a better nutrition plan, and identify all sorts of pertinent information.
Here, the best dog DNA tests on the market, each of which can easily be completed in your own home.
If you want the most possible information on your pet, there’s no question that Embark Breed & Health Kit is your best bet. The kit is made in partnership with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. With Embark Breed & Health Kit, you’ll get information on your pet’s breed breakdown and information on ancestors going back to great-grandparents.
There’s also a social component to this kit: You can connect with other dogs that have been tested with Embark that share DNA with your own dog. Finally, as well as checking for breeds, there are also genetic health tests run on the DNA. You can see all these results on a nicely designed dashboard on Embark’s website, or download a report (that’s handy, particularly if there is information you want to share with your vet).
After taking a cheek swab from your dog, you’ll mail it to Embark for testing. Results are generally available in two to four weeks. Reviewers note that while the wait is long, Embark does a great job providing status updates, so it’s always clear that progress is being made. Some reviewers did note that the volume of emails after the test results were sent over was quite high.
Overall, most reviewers were thrilled with the results, as well as the customer service. The report has detailed results, with attractive, easy-to-follow visuals and charts about the finding. Some reviewers mentioned that when the report on their dog had a potentially alarming finding, a geneticist would reach out personally before sharing the report to go over the implications.
"The Embark DNA kit provided nearly the same amount of information as a human DNA kit. It even included a chart of the exact breakdown of each of our dog's 38 pairs of chromosomes!"—Suzie Dundas, Product Tester
Are you put off by the long waits and hefty prices of many of the dog DNA testing kits? The DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test Kit might be the perfect option for you—results are available after about one week. And, the cost is significantly more budget-friendly.
As with the other kits, you’ll swab your dog’s cheek to get DNA, mail the sample in, and then get details on your pup’s ancestry. You’ll get details on your dog’s breed composition, as well as information on your dog’s dominant breeds and the associated personality traits and health issues.
Many reviewers appreciated the speed of the results, the ease of the test, and the readable information provided in the results.
If your dog’s breed is truly mysterious—or if you suspect there are many or rare breeds involved—the Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test Kit is likely your best option. It tests for 350 breeds, types, and varieties.
And the testing process is fairly simple: Each test comes with two DNA test swabs. You’ll use them to take a sample from the inside of your dog’s mouth. (Reviewers note this process may be a bit more complicated than it seems—just make sure your dog does not lick, chew, or eat anything for a couple of hours before getting the sample.) Then, using pre-paid postage (also included) you’ll mail the sample off. At a lab, this DNA sample will be tested for hundreds of markers that help identify your dog’s breed ancestry all the way to the dog’s great-grandparents. Within three weeks, you’ll receive an email with your dog’s results.
Most reviewers were thrilled with the results, and the ability to give in to your curiosity and learn more about your dog’s background. As well as the details on the dog’s genetic background, you’ll also receive weight range predictions for your dog and some details on your dog’s mix of breeds. Most reviewers felt that the results were accurate—they also recommended calling with questions or confusion and praised the company’s responsiveness.
"Wisdom Panel’s interface is intuitive and informative. The breed information is displayed in a pie chart and you can click on each breed to learn more about their typical height, weight, and predisposition. A family tree also breaks down your dog’s ancestry with the breed makeup of its parents, grandparents, and great grandparents."—Suzie Dundas, Product Tester
Finding out about your dog’s breed can be informative and fascinating. But it’s not just a matter of curiosity: Having insight into your dog’s background can also help you be more aware of health risks common with specific breeds.
With the Orivet Mixed-Breed Identification & Life Plan Dog DNA Test Kit, you’ll get a personalized Life Plan, which provides detailed information on inheritable health risks, and what you can do about them. This can be helpful information to share with your veterinarian. The Life Plan lays out, by your dog’s age, recommended routine care, as well as suggested tests based on your dog’s health indicators.
The best overall dog DNA test is the Embark Breed & Health Kit (view at Chewy), which provides you with a breed breakdown and information on ancestors going back to great-grandparents. It also tests for different genetic diseases! If you’re looking for something that costs a bit less, the DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test Kit (view at Chewy) is a solid option that still provides reliable and fast results.
Depth Your reasons for testing will determine what type of test you want to select. If you’re just curious about your dog’s lineage, there are basic tests, while others provide more analysis of how their DNA may contribute to their personality. Others can tell you if your dog is more or less at risk for various health conditions.
Speed of results How long do you want to wait for your dog’s DNA results? If speed is important to you, there are tests that can deliver them quickly (in a couple of weeks), while other testing companies take months to deliver results. Your reason for testing and your level of patience will factor into which type of test you should choose.
Accuracy Of course, the most important quality you want in a dog DNA test is accuracy, particularly if you’re looking for insight into their health. Some tests guarantee accuracy rates of nearly 100 percent.
Madeleine Burry is a dog lover, who has written content about pet health and conditions for PetCareRx, as well as writing about pets for AAA’s Via Magazine, and Women’s Health.