What’s the Deal with DNA Testing for Dogs?

It’s not a simple question, is it? If you take a glance at her, you’d think she’s a terrier. However, her tail isn’t quite terrier-like. Her personality suggests a touch of Jack Russel. So I usually answer that she’s a mix. 


With the number of mixed dogs in Australia being approximately 29%, you’ve probably run into a more significant number of mixed Aussie dogs than you realise. Mixed dogs are indeed fascinating. Everyone is curious to find out their pup’s genetic history. Everyone looks at a mixed dog and immediately starts figuring out which breeds of DNA the dog is made up of.  


This curiosity is what has sparked the rise in DNA tests for pups. The cheap DNA kits that can be mailed straight to your home have become a prevalent means of understanding our pets more. These test kits are popular with the mixed dog owners and owners of purebred pups. 


Many people, however, criticise the accuracy of these test kits and do not believe that finding out your dog’s genetic makeup is as simple as using a mailed DNA test kit. 

What Do DNA Tests Check For?

A DNA test helps you understand your dog’s genetic makeup a lot better. A DNA test can help you predict the type of health conditions your dog is likely to suffer from. It can also help you tell whether the dog’s litter will inherit these health conditions or not. 

Why Test Your Dog?

People who want to breed from their dogs should test their DNA. They should try to find out as much as possible about the dog’s genes to reduce any chances of the puppies inheriting health conditions. When you understand what type of genetic diseases your pup carries, you will be able to look for an appropriate mate. 

How Does DNA Testing for Dogs Work?

  1. Place an order for a DNA test kit. You can order from any online provider. 
  2. Get test swabs from the dog’s gums and cheeks for around fifteen seconds. 
  3. When the swab dries, please put it in the provided bag. (all the necessary materials are usually provided).
  4. Online providers usually have online portals where you can sign in with your personal details and activate the kit. You will then be able to track the DNA sample.
  5. Mail the kit back to the provider for the DNA test. 
  6. You will receive the DNA test results in around two-three weeks. 

How Reliable Is DNA Testing for Dogs?

These DNA tests tend to be fun and will leave you pretty content. Every online kit provider works with a different lab and might provide ranging results. Back in the year 2017, BBC sent the DNA of a cat to one company that tested for dog DNA. They sent the DNA together with a dog’s picture and waited for the company’s results, which came listing dog breeds that bore a resemblance to the sent picture. Avoid testing your dog’s DNA through companies that ask for photos of the dog. 


Veterinary doctors also warn against such companies. They argue that their testing standard and the accuracy of their results are too vague. Such inaccurate data can confuse untrained dog owners who cannot interpret the test results. 


However, most dog owners give positive feedback about the DNA test kits. The owners had a lot of fun during the experience and learned a lot about their dogs. 

Is DNA Testing for Dogs Available in Australia?

Yes, it is, though not as large as the US industry. 


Wisdom (sometimes called Advanced or Royal Canin)

This company is based in the US. It is one of the largest and oldest providers of DNA tests. Mars Petcare owns this renowned test provider. They are a lot more experienced than other test providers worldwide. With more than 3,000 reviews with a 4.1-star rating on Amazon, they are very good at providing accurate test results. 


Their test kits are only available through the vets under the Mars company in Australia. Their prices vary from $80-$120. 


This is the only test kit available in stores here. The test kits cost $19.95. The fees for the lab test are separate and cost around $75. You will need to pay this fee when activating the test kit. 


These test kits have mixed reviews. Wisdom and Orivet tests are both analysed at Queensland’s Neogen. 


Embark test kits are only available in online stores that are US-based. Shipping is, therefore, quite tricky. You will also not be able to send the test back through a return envelope. They set the standard as one of the most accurate DNA test providers. Embark has more than 800 reviews on Amazon, averaging nearly five stars. The results from their labs are very detailed, covering all medical details and every health condition that your dog can suffer from. 


They are pretty costly, going for US$189. That’s around AU$280. 

Go to the Vet or Buy Online?

Many dog owners buy test kits online rather than from the vets. This field is relatively new, and most vets are not very educated about it. 


For any questions on the results, you can feel free to consult the vet. 

Overall, Is It Worth It?

DNA tests for your dog are undoubtedly a lot of fun. They are also very educational and informative. It might not be perfectly accurate, so remember not to take it as the gospel truth.


Also, remember that quality comes at a price. A reputable company providing DNA test services for a long time will have a more extensive and detailed database about dog genetics. It will, without question, charge a lot more than your average company and will be a lot more accurate. 


Do not replace consultations with the vet with DNA test kits. 


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *