dog dna testing explained

Dog DNA Testing Explained

There are many reasons why dog DNA testing is now becoming even more popular. Some dog owners do it to find out if their pets are truly purebred, and getting it on paper is a huge advantage. On the other hand, there are many dogs out there that are mixes of various species, so their humans might want to check their lineage. This is especially helpful if your pet was adopted, abandoned or you have no clue who its parents are.

Conducting a DNA test for your pooch is now something common and easy to do. There are many DNA testing companies that offer this service for dog owners. The results are then compared with their database of the genetic markets of all dog breeds. This information is important to be able to identify the lineage of your beloved dog. They simply need to look for markers in the DNA that are related to a specific dog.

After they analyze these samples, you will receive a report that shows the results. If you have a mixed breed dog, you will get the details as to its heritage. You might find out that your dog is ½ or 50% German shepherd, ¼ or 25% of a different breed, and so on. You may also receive a description of these breeds and their general physical and even personality traits. On the other hand, if you have a purebred dog, you will be able to verify it through this DNA test.

This information is helpful in a lot of ways. First, you may then be able to understand how big your dog might become, as well as other physical traits that are important. This is important for mixed dog owners.

Second, you might be able to identify genetic risks inherent to specific dog breeds. It is a fact that some types of dogs are more likely to develop some conditions. You may also be able to order a more detailed test that will do a thorough genetic health screening.

dog dna

How Does It Work?

There are various types of dog DNA testing kits available, with some being better than others. The easiest way is to buy an at-home dog DNA kit. They may also be purchased online. Once you receive it, make sure you read all instructions carefully before you begin. Some tests may have specific requirements, like taking the sample after the dog’s last meal.

Using the swab that is included in the package, get a sample inside your pet’s cheek. Pack the swabs in the container provided in the kit. Mail it to the DNA company’s lab as soon as possible, using the postage included in the package. This will then be processed and compared with the database. Each company will have their own timeline, so take note to know when you can receive the results. They may either be sent electronically or via traditional mail.

How Much Does It Cost?

Dog owners need not worry about the cost of conducting a dog DNA test. Doing these tests will not set you back a lot financially. Depending on the kit you purchase, expect to shell out something between $80 to $200.

You might also be able to find cheaper ones out there, but you should not be surprised when these are not as reliable or when these tests have lots of negative reviews. Know that you are not just paying for the test per se, but you are also paying for good customer service, fast analysis, and accurate results. As you will almost certainly only do a dog DNA test once, you can splurge on a good and reliable one.

How Accurate Are These Tests?

 It is not possible to say that all the best DNA dog test out there in the market are 100% accurate. Some may have a bigger margin of error because their database of dog breed markers is more limited. However, it is also important to note that most mixed-breed dogs come from common breeds anyway, so the chances of the test missing out on some rare dog breeds are lower. The most popular dog DNA companies out there have the profiles of almost all recognized breeds.

The worst-case scenario when it comes to these less accurate tests is that the results will pinpoint its ancestry or the more common class of dog. Under these classes, there may be more specific breeds, but a limited database might already miss out on these. So, for example, you have a dog with a Parson Russel Terrier ancestry, the test might only pick up on the Jack Russell Terrier ancestry and not the more specific breed under this category. Even if it is not 100% accurate, you are still given a good perspective on your pet’s lineage.

You might be in for some surprises once you receive your dog’s lineage. Some traits from its ancestry might not anymore manifest physically in your dog because of the concept of dominant and recessive genes. Still, certain genetic traits and risks might still be there even if your dog does not look much like this specific breed. These are all the important information that you will get and discover once you conduct a DNA test for your dog.

Related Post: Dog DNA Tests

dog on the beach

Should I Do DNA Testing?

While plain curiosity is already a good enough reason to order a DNA dog test kit, be aware that you will receive much more information in return. Basically, you will not just find out what your dog is a mix of, but you will understand its personality and even its health issues better. Many mixed-breed dog owners know that these results will help them keep their dogs happy and healthy in the long run, which is why they do it as soon as possible.

Once again, these tests are not going to bankrupt you and you will only need to do it once. Considering the wealth of information and understanding you may gain from it, it is easy to say that dog DNA testing is truly worth it.


  1. Jennifer Dixon, Dog DNA Tests: Why Your Mutt’s Makeup Matters, WebMD
  2. Kim Campbell Thornton, Dog DNA Tests Can Reveal Your Canine’s Breed and Shed Light on Health Information, Vetstreet
  3. DNA Testing Delivers Important Discoveries For All Dogs, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

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