Everything You Need to Know About Dog DNA Testing

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When you hear the words DNA and ancestry, don’t we all immediately think about long lost relatives in far off locations that we never once considered to be part of our heritage? And beyond learning about where you come from (even if it is just a fractions of a percentage point), you suddenly start picking up scores of information related to your genetic health. Stuff that goes back generations but makes you start connecting some of those dots to your own health. Useful info, right?

Well, it’s also useful information to have for your dog because in this day and age of adopt-versus-shop, a lot of us are bringing home what is often referred to as a “Heinz 57” – in other words, a dog that is a mixed bag of breeds. While heritage is the last thing we’re thinking about when we walk our newly adopted family member into our home, it can actually be beneficial to his future health and quality of life, for you to know a little more about him.

For example, does he come from a breed (or breeds) that is predisposed to digestive issues, to cataracts, or to certain cancers? What about being prone to the 3 common aging maladies: glaucoma, degenerative myelopathy and dilated cardiomyopathy. While you may be thinking you’d rather not know what ailments may beset your good buddy down the road, remember that knowledge is power. Just think about it – if you could predict the future, wouldn’t you wan to take the steps necessary to help prevent or delay the onset of these debilitating illnesses? The first step, is being aware and having the benefit of time to watch for symptoms.

And while you may be hesitating because you don’t really want to incur more vet fees or stress your little guy out with a trip to his least favorite place in order to do bloodwork, it really doesn’t work that way. In fact, you can pick up a doggie DNA kit on sites such as Amazon – so, no costly vet visit and no needles.

To help you shortlist, here are 2 of the more popular brands:

  • Embark’s Breed + Health DNA test which was developed in partnership with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and scores top points with those who rated it on Amazon.com.
  • Wisdom Panel’s DNA Test for Ancestry, Traits, and Medical Complications includes an MDR1 test to flag if your pooch will be sensitive to certain medications. Less expensive than Embark, its great for multi-dog households that want to test more than one pooch.

Regardless of which brand you choose, they all work pretty much the same. You simply swab the inside of his cheek, activate your kit on-line, and send in the swab (most kits offer pre-paid shipping). Within 2 to 3 weeks, you’ll know all there is to know about your pooch’s genetic make-up. And if you’re a little skeptical, be assured that these brands have a pretty good track record when it comes to accuracy. In fact, these testing kits are considered to be not only highly accurate, but have the ability to pick up on DNA from somewhere in the range of 350 different dog breeds, identify close to 200 different genetic diseases, and provide you with data that goes all the way back to your pooch’s great-grandparents. They can even flag other dog breeds that have similar traits to your pup, so you’ll now know why your terrier-mix bays rather than barks (beagle blood), or your Lab-mix likes to he