Wisdom Panel 2.0 Review

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
We test the all-in-one DNA kit to see if it can determine what kind of breed your dog is

When you’re out with your dog, people come up to talk to you. Dogs bring that out in a lot of people – especially other pet parents. And the most common question you’re asked is: “What kind of dog is she?” If you’ve rescued your dog from a shelter, the answer to that question most likely is: “She’s a rescue, so I’m not sure.” You can guesstimate, based on appearance, but that doesn’t give you a definitive answer. You need to go deeper – right down to the DNA. And that’s just what breed identification tests, such as Wisdom Panel 2.0, claim it can do.

In my journeys as editor for PetGuide.com, I came across Wisdom Panel 2.0 and was intrigued… I really wanted to try this product out. In fact, everybody in the office with a dog wanted to try it out. Oscar is a designer dog, so I had a good idea what he was… but I wanted to put this test to the test. And that’s why I asked my co-worker Adam to help me out with this review. He adopted his dog, Zelda, from a shelter and he didn’t know what kind of breed she was. He was happy to help me out so he could find out just what Zelda was made up of (other than lots of love and sweetness).

Why Test Your Dog?

There are lots of reasons why you’d want to test your dog’s DNA. Here’s a short list:

  • Confirm if a designer breed really is a true hybrid.
  • Confirm if your dog is purebred
  • If your mixed breed dog is a puppy, you may want to know how big he’ll get and what nutrition would be best for him – this test will tell you.
  • By knowing what breeds make up your dog, you can better understand his behavior and tailor a more effective training and wellness plan.
  • When people come up to ask you what kind of dog you have, you’ll be able to give them an answer and talk about what makes your dog so special.

By taking two tests, we’d be able to test a few of these benefits out. I wanted to see if Oscar was a true designer dog (Shih Tzu/Chihuahua) and Adam would finally find out what kind of dog Zelda was. Both of our dogs are adults already, but by confirming their genetics, we would learn what breed instincts made them tick and help explain some of their doggy behaviors.

First Step: Collecting Doggy DNA

The kit came to me in a box, complete with everything I would need to send to the Wisdom Panel labs. It came with an instruction sheet, two DNA Cheek Swabs, a Swabs’ Drying Insert and a pre-paid shipping label. It was really easy to take the DNA – Wisdom Panel did a great job with instructions, not only telling me what to do, but also including diagrams. Here’s all I had to do:

  1. Make sure Oscar didn’t eat for two hours prior to taking the swab (drinking water was fine).
  2. Peel back the edges of the protective sleeve and remove swab. Keep the sleeve for later use.
  3. Roll and rotate swab bristles against the inside of the Oscar’s cheek for about 15 seconds.
  4. Allow sample to dry for 5 minutes using the drying insert and put the swab back into sleeve.
  5. Active the test online.
  6. Put all the necessary components back into the kit (affixed with the proper labels) and mail back the test.

Pretty easy – the whole process took me about 15 minutes (not including the walk to the post office). I liked that it came with a pre-paid shipping label, so I wouldn’t have to worry about pricy shipping fees. Now, all we had to do was wait…

What’s Included in the Report

Once the testing is done, you’re emailed a comprehensive report that outlines the following:

  • Ancestry of your dog by breed.
  • Breed profile page describing each of the breeds detected in your dog.
  • A frameable certificate showing the determined ancestry of your dog.
  • Information page with key contact information.

It takes about three weeks for the report to be processed, but you can follow the progress of your kit online (you know, if you really can’t wait to find out when the results will be ready).

How the Results are Formulated

To be able to accurately test your dog’s ancestry, Wisdom Panel 2.0 database covers over 200 different breeds. The process was developed using genetic markers from American Kennel Club (AKC) breeds and some non-AKC breeds in the U.S., as well as purebred dogs from the United Kingdom, Australia, and Europe.

The swabs undergo processing to extract the DNA from your dog’s cells and the DNA is examined using 321 markers that detect the presence of purebred dogs (Wisdom Panel has completed over 19 million genetic marker analyses and has typed over 13,000 dogs during test development). The database also compares your dog’s DNA against other breeds. These markers are run through a computer program that is designed to consider all of the pedigree trees (just like a family tree) that are possible in the last three generations. The trees considered include a simple pedigree with a single breed (a likely purebred dog), two different breeds at the parental level (a first-generation cross), continuing all the way up to a complex tree with eight different great-grandparent breeds allowed.

There’s a lot of science that goes into breed detection analysis. We can’t go into all of the details here, but if you’re interested, Wisdom Panel has a detailed FAQs page that delves deep into the process.

Zelda’s Results

According to Wisdom Panel 2.0, Zelda is a German Shepherd and Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix. It turns out that she had purebred German Shepard and Staffordshire Bull Terrier grandparents on each side of her pedigree tree. On both the great-grandparent and grandparent side, there are also mixed breed ancestry. That means her parents are both German Shepherd mixes and Staffordshire Bull Terrier mixes. It also means that German Shepherd and Staffordshire Bull Terrier are 50 percent of her breed makeup.

Because there is mixed breeds on both sides of Zelda’s pedigree tree, the other 50 percent is a bit more difficult to trace. But the Wisdom Panel 2.0 is able to identify strong breed signals (markers that are consistent with the presence of a particular breed) in this mixed portion. Using breed signals, the test comes up with five breeds that could have contributed to her genetic makeup. It’s not likely that all of them are part of her background, but the top five were Border Terrier, Lhasa Apso, American Staffordshire Terrier, White Swiss Shepherd and Chinook.

The test also confirmed that Zelda was a female and was spayed (Adam says that checks out), and that her adult weight should be between 38 to 61 pounds. Zelda weighs 60 pounds, so Adam knows that’s she’s falls within projected healthy guidelines.

Oscar’s Results

It’s confirmed – Oscar is a true hybrid dog! All three generations are purebred – Chihuahua on one side and Shih Tzu on the other. The test showed that he’s a male (checkmark) and neutered (checkmark) and that his adult weight is predicted to be between 7 and 15 pounds (he tips the scales at 10 pounds – another checkmark).

Oscar’s results also included a Principle Component Analysis, which uses his DNA sample and compares it with the other Chihuahua and Shih Tzu samples in the database. These samples from the purebred dogs form breed clusters that allow Wisdom Panel to see how similar they are to Oscar’s sample. As you can see on the diagram, there’s a cluster of Shih Tzu points, a cluster of Chihuahua points (both US and UK, and the Expected F1 cluster, which shows where a first-generational cross would expect to fall. And Oscar’s sample falls right into the Expected F1 cluster.

The Verdict

Adam says he was pretty impressed with the results. The two “key breeds” were both ones that have been guessed a few times before, although they may not have been the front runners from what people normally guess. He also says the results will be the talk of the dog park for a while – everyone was excited to hear that Zelda took the test and were looking forward to hearing the results.

I was also happy about Oscar’s results – but even if they did come back differently than a first-generation cross, I would still love him just the same.

It’s not just about the detailed test results that make this kit so awesome (although they are quite impressive). It’s when you put all the pieces together that make it such a wonderful product. The final analysis comes with a write up about each of the key breeds to give you a little background and character traits to look out for. It also provides a write up about how key physical traits are inherited and how they combine to make your dog one-of-a-kind.

On the bonus side of Wisdom Panel 2.0, I already mentioned who much I appreciated the pre-paid shipping label. And you also have the opportunity to customise your dog’s official certificate with a picture to truly customize this official document. As well, you can share your results socially – you’re encouraged to tell your story on Wisdom Panel’s Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as upload a picture into the Wisdom Panel photo gallery.

I think that Wisdom Panel 2.0 is a great product and would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about their dog’s DNA. It also makes a pretty unique gift for pet parents bringing home a new shelter dog. The price is quite reasonable – $79.99 and includes everything featured in this review. You can learn more about the product or order it on Wisdom Panel 2.0’s website.

*Note: PetGuide.com was NOT compensated for this review. We received two free Wisdom Panel 2.0 kits to review. The opinions expressed in this post are the author’s. We provide unbiased feedback of the products and share products we think our readers would enjoy using and learning more about.

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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