Much like a human DNA test, a dog DNA testing kit uses your dog's sample to break down their genetic history.
Through one of these kits you'll be able to understand your dog better as you can find out what breeds are in its history, what it's allergic to, what diseases they are vulnerable, and the genetic age of your beloved pooch.
In this article we'll be talking you through everything you need to know about Dog DNA Testing Kits. Including why you would want to do one with your dog, what these tests actually do, how to do one of these tests and more.
We have included a list of some of the leading Dog DNA tests available.
Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about DNA Testing Kits for your dog, and why you should do one.
What Does a Dog DNA Test Do?
There is an element of the Dog DNA test that is similar to those that are made for humans. The recent kits that have been developed for non-breeding dog owners focus heavily on your dog's breed and genetic ancestors.
Good Dog DNA tests can track your dog's ancestry back to their great grandparents. This really appeals to those who have adopted a mutt and want to know more about their past.
Where Dog DNA tests really differ from tests for Humans is their focus on health. Dog
DNA tests were originally developed to help breeders find out if their breeding pairs could mate safely. They would use the DNA tests to check that the pair wouldn't breed pups that were genetically vulnerable to major disease, or genetic conditions - like 'the clicky hip' in Labradors that can lead to them being unable to walk.
Taking a Dog DNA test can lead to you understanding your dog better and helping to make their life not only longer but more pleasant.
Why Get a Dog DNA Test?
If you have a pretty good idea about what breed your dog is, you may look at a Dog DNA Test and think there's nothing more this can tell me.
You'd be quite wrong about that.
Aside from giving you a breed breakdown, there are two other key categories a Dog DNA Test can check for - allergies and vulnerabilities to diseases.
This is the first category measured by most Dog DNA Tests. The DNA test will break down the genetic makeup of your dog to work out their family tree. Good tests can map out your dog's family tree up to your dog's great grandparents.
If you've adopted an adorably scraggly mutt you'll find this a really intriguing category. You just have to look up 'Dog DNA test results' on Youtube to see how shocking these results can be.
The DNA test can also work out your dog's genetic age - based on their genes this is an estimate at your dog's age.
If you've had your dog since a puppy this probably isn't very useful for you. However, many dogs that find their way into a rescue centre have no vet records, and there can be an air of mystery surrounding how old they are.
Knowing the age of your dog grows more important the older they get, as once they reach a certain age (it varies from breed to breed) you'll need to change what you're feeding them. Knowing what you're dog's breed mix and age is can help you to look after their dietary and exercise needs more efficiently.
Your dog's allergies
The science of allergies in humans has come on leaps and bounds in the last ten years, but what most of us aren't aware of is dog allergy science has been developing alongside it.
Did you know that dogs can suffer from hayfever? Many dogs also suffer from food intolerances - beef, dairy, and wheat being the main culprits. Knowing if your dog has any allergies can reduce a huge amount of discomfort in your dog's life.
Allergies in dogs are really easy to deal with once you understand what's causing them - often overlooked this is truly one of the main benefits of getting a Dog DNA test done.
The following are symptoms of allergies in dogs:
- Itchy skin (dry, flaky skin)
- Pigmented skin (dark patches)
- Itchy paws (they will lick their paws a lot)
- Hair loss
- Hot spots (red spots of skin, very warm)
- Skin infections (often caused by too much scratching)
- Skin rashes
- Scaly skin (bumpy skin, similar to how it appears in humans)
- Oily skin
- Leathery skin texture (skin looks thin and dry)
- Eye discharge
- Red eyes
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Ear infections
- bacterial infections of the skin or ears
This is definitely the most stomach-churning part of the process but arguably the most crucial but. The last benefit of doing a Dog DNA test we're going to talk about is the detail it gives you about what diseases your dog is genetically vulnerable to.
We all like to tell ourselves our dogs might be the expectation and live forever. However, one of the kindest things we can do for our pets is to be prepared for them to grow old.
Good Dog DNA tests will search for disease vulnerabilities visible in your dog's genes. Most of these will be heredity, but some may be unique to your pet.
Most Dog DNA kits have the option to post these results straight to your vet, as well as to yourself. If the kit doesn't offer that we recommend doing that anyway as it will allow your vet to search for symptoms of any flagged diseases and hopefully catch anything serious early.
Tests for Breeding Pairs
Some companies offer DNA testing kits that are designed to be used on potential breeding pairs. These will allow you to check whether the pair's litter would be vulnerable to any major diseases or genetic flaws.
This is an essential (and in some places legally required) process to go through when breeding puppies.
How to do a Dog DNA Test?
At home, Dog DNA tests are a simple, non-invasive process. They may vary from company to company, but the following guide will work with most tests.
Your test will come with one or two swabs (depending on the type of kit you have ordered), one of these swabs needs to be inserted into the mouth of our dog. Then you should rub it along your dog's gum line between 10 and 15 times.
Once this is done put the swab in the sealing kit provided by the kit. Then post back to the test centre.
After 14-21 days wait you will receive your test results online.
This is a super simple process that puts your dog under very little stress. No trip to the vet required!
Where can you get Dog DNA Testing Kits from?
DNA Testing Kits for your dogs can often be a small investment, so it's important to make sure you get it from a reputable source.
There are many kits available on eBay, however, we would recommend looking elsewhere. Try to buy from a trusted company like Amazon, Pets at Home, or directly from the Testing Company themselves.
Not all Dog DNA testing kits are made equal, please bear this in mind whilst you shop around.
Below we have listed a number of available testing kits, and where you can find them.
Dog DNA Testing Kits on the market
Here is a list of some of the top Dog DNA testing kits on the market, and where you can buy them from.
Wisdom Panel 2.0 DNA Testing Kit
The Wisdom Panel 2.0 will provide you with your dog's breed history - up to great grandparents level, it will also provide you with a predicted weight profile, Health Body Condition Score, and any mixed-breed legacy information you need to know. It works with the Kennel Club's database of recognised breeds - running your dogs DNA profile against over 350 different breeds.
There is a three week wait for results and you will receive these results online. It comes with two swabs - this means you can check two different dogs. It also provides the user with prepaid return shipping.
This kit is available from Pets at Home (online only), their own website, Amazon, and Ebay.
Our View - while Wisdom Panel 2.0 is one of the easiest dog DNA kits to get hold of, it does not offer as much as the other kits on the market. If you are just interested in learning your dog's breed, this will tick all your boxes but if you want to know more you will have to look elsewhere.
EasyDNA (My Dog Breed Test, and others)
This test from EastDNA (who also make DNA tests for humans) offer multiple different DNA tests for your dogs. Between these three tests they cover everything we have mentioned above - breed, allergies, and disease vulnerabilities.
They also offer tests for horses and cats if you are curious about those too.
Results from EasyDNA take 21 days to return to you.
My Dog Breed Test -
This test is your standard testing of your dog's breed, looking at their history up until their great grandparents. EasyDNA test against 95 different breeds - this is not the most comprehensive test on the market, but does compare to a large number of breeds.
Your dog's compatibility to existing breeds will be rated on a scale of 1-5, this may include multiple breeds. You will be given a guide to help you exercise, feed and treat your dog based on their breed. You will also be provided with a certificate from EasyDNA, as well as a framable breakdown of your dog's breeds.
They will also include a booklet about common diseases that may trouble dogs of the same breed/mix as yours, but this will not be specific to your own dog.
Dog Allergy Test -
This test uses your dog's DNA to test against 119 different allergens. The results of this test will help you work out what allergen is making your dog react. (See above for a list of allergy symptoms in dogs).
Your dog's reactions will be listed as strong, mild, or no reaction. A booklet advising the best way to adapt your dogs lifestyle to alleviate these allergies is also included.
A 50% off voucher for Pure Foods (a leading allergy friendly dog food brand) is also provided with this test.
Dog Inherited Disease and Traits Test -
This test will test your dog for one of the major canine diseases. It is important to note that unlike other companies EasyDNA's test only does one disease at a time.
Simply purchase a test, take the sample, and mail it back to EasyDNA, noting to them what breed your dog is and what disease you would like them to test for. On their website they have a list of diseases they can test for, with details on which breeds need to worry about them.
This test is mostly aimed at dog breeders who are looking for specific information.
Dog Genetic Age Test -
This test is a combination of the Dog Breed Test and a test to work out the genetic age of your dog. If your dog's age is currently unknown to you, this will be useful for providing some insight into the nutritional support and exercise they need to stay healthy.
The breed side of this test is not as detailed as the Dog Breed Test provided by EasyDNA.
These kits are available from EasyDNA's website. Each test has a separate page on their website, so please bear that in mind if you are looking to purchase multiple tests.
EasyDNA offers discounts when purchasing more than one type of test from them.
Our View - Whilst EasyDNA does offer a wide range of interesting tests - none of them go into a great amount of detail. This may be because EasyDNA are specialists in Human testing, and they offer dog testing on the side.
For the kind of money they charge we would hope they would offer more. If you are a breeder looking for a small amount of very specific information, you might find this service very interesting. However, their Alergy Test is the real highlight of this collection.
Pet Genetics Lab - Foresight Tests -
The Foresight Tests from Pet Genetics Labs are a little different from the more commercial tests on this list. The Foresight Tests are designed to test your dog for all the major health concerns for their breed.
Before purchasing one of the pre-made test kits you will already need to know your dog's breed. If your dog is a mix or mutt, you can contact them directly through their website to work on a bespoke test for your pet, or work with your vet and the website together.
This is the most expensive test on the list - but it really is a bargain for the extensive (and we don't use that word lightly) amount of testing they can provide. Pet Genetics Lab do tests for the Kennel Club, as well as many veterinary surgeries across the UK.
If there is an obscure element of your dog's health that you are concerned about, you can contact Pet Genetics Lab to work on a bespoke test.
The test results take around three weeks. The tests are available on their website.
Our View - If you're looking for a test to look at the health of your dog, Pet Genetics Lab offers an unrivaled service. They completely specialise in pet genetics and are some of the best at what they do. We would highly recommend using this service if you want to know more about your dog's health.
Embark Dog DNA Test -
The Embark Dog DNA Test is the celebrity of the Dog DNA world. The company spent a lot of money promoting their kit, and they are pretty much single handedly responsible for the public's interest in taking at home tests. If you search Dog DNA tests on Youtube you get pretty much exclusively Embark reviews.
That being said, there is a reason that Embark are leaders in the industry. What all the over companies offer across multiple tests, Embark offers in one. Plus, they picked a really great name...
So what does the Embark kit offer? Firstly it checks 200,000 of your dogs genetic markers against over 250 breeds to find what breeds make up their genetic mix. They also test your dog's DNA against over 30 canine traits. Finally, a test for vulnerabilities against over 175 health conditions is included in this test. Embark will also tell you your dog's genetic age.
Embark is also trialing the world's first Canine relative finder. Where they will be able to tell you if any close or distant relatives of your pup have used their service. They can also put you in touch with them if you would like.
Embark offers a 2-3 weeks turn around on results and however for UK customers Embark do not cover return postage.
You can purchase an Embark kit through this website here.
Our View - If you are not a breeder, and are looking for the best value for money kit - Embark is the one to go for. It offers more in one kit than almost everything else on the market. The one downside of Embark is that the company is American.
Whilst you can still use the product in the UK and enjoy all its amazing features - what you cannot do is enjoy its pre-paid postage system, which is not valid outside the US.
Having to pay to post the kit does add to the price but it's something we'd be happy to do as Embark has so much more to offer than other companies.
DNA My Dog -
This product is available on Amazon, here. Unfortunately this is simultaneously one of the most expensive tests we've found and one of the worst reviewed.
This testing kit can provide you with a breakdown of the breeds, up to Grandparents, that your dog is composed of. They will provide you with a certificate and a breakdown of traits that you would expect your dog to have. This test is purely about identifying your dog's breed and covers no health elements.
However, we have noticed that multiple people have been complaining of getting completely false readings back from the company. Including someone noting that their 18kg Chihuahua like dog came back as 100% Siberian Husky.
Our View - this is an expensive test, considering it only covers breed, and gives you no information on health or age. Add to that the problems people have been having with incorrect results coming back - we would think twice before using this test.
The Pros and the Cons
One half of this list is going to be very short because we've really struggled with finding reasons why you shouldn't do a DNA test on your dog.
You have been warned.
- Knowing how old your dog is
- Knowing your dog's genetic makeup
- Finding out if your dog has any allergies
- Discovering if your dog is vulnerable to any diseases
- Being able to prepare your dog better for growing old
- Saving money on vets bills by catching any diseases early
- Non-Invasive testing (no need to visit the vet - yay!)
- Gain a better understanding of your dog's dietary and exercise requirements
- Some dog DNA tests can be expensive
- Taking the test, waiting for the results, and getting reviewing them can be a stressful situation for many people
- 2.3% of dog DNA tests fail - either the dogs mouth is full of too much bacteria, or the swap sample was taken incorrectly
- Some brands appear to be scams