Many of us are curious about our own family trees, ethnic backgrounds, or medical predispositions, but what about our dogs? With so many mystery mutts from rescues, it’s no wonder dog DNA testing has become so popular! From Embark to Wisdom Panel to Royal Canin, dog DNA kits are now a must-have gift idea for pet lovers, and breed reveals and guessing games have become quite the trend on social media.
But these genetic test kits can tell you more than just your dog’s breed results. Here are five things a dog DNA test can tell you about your dog:
#1: Breed & Traits Information
Dog owners are usually most excited about finding out what breeds make up their newly adopted dog. DNA test results include your dog’s breed mix by percentage based on a library of anywhere from 250-350 unique dog breeds. For each of the breeds your pup gets, you can get additional information on each breed: temperament, appearance, history, fun facts, and related breed information.
You can also find out about your dog’s ancestry and their “family” tree (what breeds their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents likely were.) Even for purebred dogs, this can confirm exactly how far back their lineage goes.
Other interesting breed information you can get with certain kits includes Wolfiness (ancient genetic traits), maternal line (finding out which regions the mother’s ancestry is traced back to), their genetic age, and trait information. This may include coat color and length, body size, shedding, eye color, genetic diversity (inbreeding), and even altitude tolerance!
#2: Health & Genetic Risks
If you’re interested in knowing about your dog’s genetic health risks, you may want to look for a kit that includes a health screening. These health kits can screen for over 150 genetic diseases that your dog may be “at risk” for or a “carrier” of according to their breed mix. It may detect diseases such as Glaucoma, Von Willebrand Disease, and breed-specific conditions such as Muscular Dystrophy found in Golden Retrievers.
You can also find out if your dog has the MDR1 gene, or multi-drug resistance gene, which may cause your dog to have severe adverse reactions to some common drugs.
If your dog tests positive for any of these diseases or mutations, you can be a more proactive owner. You’ll be more aware of symptoms to look for as your dog ages and also loop your dog’s veterinarian in for more comprehensive care.
#3: Weight & Nutritional Recommendations
DNA tests can also tell you important information about your dog’s weight. Results can predict your dog’s adult weight, which is especially helpful if you’re testing your puppy. You can also get an ideal weight range recommendation to give you a sense of how much your dog should weigh to be healthy.
Some DNA tests also provide nutritional considerations based on your dog’s size and breed mixes. Recommendations may include nutrients and minerals to help with digestion, joints, and skin & coat. This can make it easier for you, with the help of your vet, to pick the right diet and supplements for your pup!
#4: Find Your Dog’s Relatives
How cool would it be to find your dog’s long lost sibling? With the Doggy DNA Relative Finder, you can connect with other dogs that are related to your pup based on the percentage of DNA they share! Updates are continuous, so if a relative joins years after you do your dog’s test, you’ll still get notified. There have even been some awesome reunions thanks to this super cool feature.
This feature is currently specific to Embark.
#5: Research Contributions
Okay, so this isn’t exactly something you get from the DNA test, but rather something you can give. When you send in your dog’s DNA, you’re also contributing to some pretty amazing veterinary genetic research studies. This research is helping veterinarians better understand things like canine obesity, diseases, behavioral issues, aging, and preventive care. And as times goes on, new features and results can become available to you!
Picking a dog dna test
It comes down to what you want out of your dog’s DNA and how much you want to spend. Breed results, health assessments, free veterinary guidance, relative finders, and more are all available at different price points. Do some research, look for sales and promotions, and maybe even add it to your holiday gift idea list! There’s plenty to discover about your dog to bring you both closer than ever.
*data from July 2021
Written by RACHAEL GILLIS