Is that a puppy Greyhound or an Italian Greyhound? Are those Cairns? I’ve never seen them with all-black faces before! In my line of work, I get questions like these daily.
I can barely get down the street without being stopped by someone who wants to say hello (to the dog) and inquire about their breed. And now, more than ever, pet parents and aficionados want to know what’s the genetics behind these cute and impressive looking dogs.
And with the plethora of DNA tests for dogs on the market, the answers are just a few clicks away. However, some may argue –what’s the point?
So in this post, I’ll provide you with some insight into the tremendous value that DNA tests for dogs can offer you as a dog parent. I will also share with you what’s one of the best DNA tests for dogs out there on the market today.
While dogs and humans are anatomically different, we share many of the same diseases with dogs. This may come as a shock to many new dog parents. Unfortunately, many of them learn about this commonality once they discover that their dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, kidney stones, or arthritis, for example.
Sharing these health issues with dogs is why vet costs are the highest costs for pet parents. Because similar to humans, dogs are subject to the same medical conditions and, therefore, the same treatments that you and I would receive under similar circumstances.
So one of the little known facts about dog DNA testing is that our shared health conditions are a benefit to science. It allows the science community to better understand and treat human illness and diseases, as well as dogs, but with a much smaller footprint. In a study published in Cornell Chronicle advised:
“Studying dog genetics is a useful and underused way to understand genetic diseases from a human perspective…” Human disease-mapping studies generally include genotyping tens of thousands of individuals and looking at 1 million markers across the genome.
In this study, the researchers conducted simulations to show that in dogs, we expect to be able to identify genetic risk factors for most major diseases with 1000 individual dogs and 1000 controls.” – Boyko,Adam. “Complex Disease and Phenotype Mapping in the Domestic Dog.” Nature Communications. Jan 22, 2016.
If you would like to learn more about how DNA tests for dogs help science, help dogs, and humans, You can learn more about this topic here and gain full access to the study here.
Also, with the help of DNA tests for dogs, scientists are now able to make accurate predictions. From how big your dog will grow, to how often they’ll shed, and more importantly, what genetic risk factors your dog may be exposed to.
This is valuable information. It allows you to become aware of and possibly prevent these health conditions from happening with the help of the applied care on your end.
So once you get confirmation of your dog’s breed and their genetic risk factors, it’s best to share it with your vet. This will help you better plan for your dog’s health alongside your veterinarian. You can create a custom health regimen that is appropriate for your dog’s unique needs.
This can be anything from what’s the best diet for your dog, exercise routine, to what are the best medications (some breeds are not responsive to certain medicines.) Again, you can learn about this detail in the previously mentioned article. But mostly you’ll be able to get ahead of any issues by learning about them early and applying the appropriate plan for their care.
Naturally, the reason for conducting a DNA test on your dog is to discover their breed. For many dog parents, this is done purely for fun. They’re just curious and may have an inkling as to what the results will be.
I agree this can be a fun process; the anticipation is exciting. But the benefit here is that even if you have an idea of what your dog’s breed may be, the test will provide you with a valid confirmation. So as previously discussed, this puts you in a better position to provide adequate health care for your dog and learn of any risk factors.
Because animal shelters don’t always have breed information for their dogs, often they will just make an educated guess. But you can’t determine a dog’s breed based on appearance alone. They may be right sometimes, but when they get it wrong, this can be harmful to the animal shelter.
For example, many dogs look like pit-bulls, but in-fact are not. Meaning, they do not have any genetic DNA connected to a pit-bull breed whatsoever but are labeled as such.
Meanwhile, pit-bulls are some of the hardest breeds to get adopted. But if the animal shelters conducted DNA tests on these hard to adopt breeds, it could result in a higher rate of adoption for these pit-bull look-a-likes.
For example, if an animal shelter correctly labeled a pit-bull look-alike as a “boxer-mix.” Your new or existing landlord would not be able to deny you the right to move in with or to adopt this dog.
The Veterinary Journal did an entire study on this mislabeling of dogs. You can learn more about the study here.
Dog DNA tests can also be handy for dog parents of purebreds. Because dog breeders are not created equal. Unfortunately, some are unethical and do not properly breed their dogs.
If the breeder did not check your puppy’s four-legged parents for genetic, health, or behavioral issues, it can result in a host of medical problems for you. You can learn more about how to find a good breeder here.
If you are a purebred parent but did not thoroughly vet your breeder, conducting a DNA test plus health history would be beneficial for you. It will inform you of any unique health issues that your purebred may be predisposed to. This way, you can plan for their care appropriately as opposed to relying on general breed information. -The Dog Care Guide
While there are many kits on the market, hands down the winner is Embark DNA Kit for Dogs!
I’m not just saying this because I’m an affiliate for Embark. I’m saying I’m an affiliate for Embark because-I’ve done my research. I believe what Embark is doing in the science field and they offer the best testing and overall value to their customers.
And there are tons of other kits on the market that offer lower prices than Embark, but this may come with lower accuracy than Embark as well.
I’ve seen reviews on other brands that complain of highly inaccurate results. These consumers did not trust the results and had to spend money on another test to get the correct confirmation.
Embark has DNA information that allows them to provide results for over 250 breeds and 170 Genetic Health Conditions. So their massive database equals more accurate results on breed and health information than other companies with limited resources.
Overall my research showed that Embark had the best customer reviews for being the most accurate and informative.
Some of my research included well-established authorities in dog care like Canine Journal. They are very well known in the industry, especially for their extensive reviews on dog products. They even did a comparison review of Embark against other top brands like Wisdom Panel, and they still rated Embark as the #1 DNA tests for dogs. You can check out Canine Journal’s review by clicking here:
In addition to their quality testing, I like the fun stuff that Embark offers. It’s the only testing system that provides a database of your dog’s closest relatives.
It’s cool because once you receive your results, your dog’s information will get matched with the profiles of their closest relatives. And they provide you with an option to literally “chat” right there online with the other dog parents.
So if you take the test and learn that your dog may have a relative nearby, then it would be great if you could set up a reunion with her litter-mates.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, Embark is one of those companies that provides you with an opportunity to further scientific research. You can give them consent to use your dog’s DNA test results to help further their research on common health issues related to dogs and humans.
It’s a rewarding experience to be able to give back while simultaneously receive information that can make a significant impact on you and your dog’s life.
So as I mentioned earlier, sometimes animal shelters and foster parents get it wrong. Our Mina’s foster parent advised that she is a Flat Coat Retriever, but we think otherwise. So Embark DNA Test here we come!
While I’m an affiliate for Embark and I receive a commission from your purchase on my site, I’m also a customer of Embark. I do not get free products.
I only make product recommendations for products that I have personal experience with. This means that I have purchased the product myself, or I have used the product while providing care for one of my client’s dogs via my pet care business- The Golden Leash. So while our Mina is 11-years old, and received another clean bill of health at her last vet visit, we purchased an Embark breed confirmation test.
Her dad and I think that it will be fun to see if she’s the mix-breed that we think she is. And Embark will give you a percentage break-down of any breed your dog is mixed with, This is awesome. And we’re excited to learn about her closest relatives as well. So stay tuned, I will follow up with a post once we receive the results in a couple of weeks and share my experience of the entire process with you.
But in the meantime, I have something special for you.
Join in on the fun for an opportunity to win a FREE Embark DNA test for your dog. While Mina’s dad and I are starting with a breed confirmation test only, I’m going to give-away an Embark Breed Plus Health Kit valued at $199.00.
This contest is sponsored by The Dog Care Guide. Our mission is to help you provide the best care for your dog. And understanding your dog’s genetic background is the best place to start. Good Luck!