The best dog DNA tests
Adopting a dog is an extremely rewarding experience, but it does have one downside: you're never quite sure exactly what breed of dog you have. With a dog DNA test, though, you can discover exactly what breeds make up your dog's genetic history and discover any breed-specific health or behavioral issues you may need to monitor. If you're not sure which dog DNA test to purchase for your pooch, our buying guide has all the information you need to choose the perfect kit for Fido or Fluffy, including our picks for the best tests on the market. Our top choice employs a database of 175 different dog breeds and tests for over 160 diseases to give you the most comprehensive look at your dog's genetic background.
Considerations when choosing dog DNA tests
Every dog DNA test uses a different database of possible breeds to provide a profile for your dog. The larger a company's database, the more accurate and complete your dog's profile will be. Some dog DNA tests are backed by databases with more than 350 breeds, while some less expensive kits only test for 100 different breeds. If your dog has a breed that's not included in the database, you won't get the most accurate results.
You should also pay attention to how many genetic markers a dog DNA test considers when analyzing your dog's DNA. Some tests look at over 200,000 genetic markers, while less comprehensive tests analyze considerably fewer markers.
DNA testing obviously requires some processing time, but you'll likely want your results as quickly as possible. With some tests, you can learn about your dog's background in as little as two weeks. However, other companies may require up to eight weeks to provide results. That said, accuracy should be your first concern with a dog DNA test, not how quickly you can get the results.
While all dog DNA tests will provide information on what breeds are found in your dog's genetic markers, not every test provides health and behavioral information. If you want to know if your pooch may be prone to certain conditions, choose a test that provides information about possible health issues and genetic abnormalities. Some can also alert you if your dog is likely to experience reactions to common medications. Others offer up information about food and environmental allergies, hormone levels, and vitamin deficiencies.
Dog DNA tests usually range from $60 to $200. Tests that use a smaller database and fewer genetic markers to provide results usually cost between $60 and $75. Mid-range tests that use larger breed databases and more genetic markers but don't provide health screening information typically range from $75 to $120. The most expensive dog DNA tests have the largest breed databases, use a significant number of genetic markers, and provide health screening information. They usually cost between $150 and $200.
Q. How do I collect DNA for a dog DNA test?
A. The procedure varies from test to test, but most kits require wiping the inside of your dog's cheek with a sterile swab to collect skin cells. It's a quick, easy process that won't hurt your dog at all.
Q. How old does my dog have to be for a DNA test?
A. You can use a dog DNA test on your puppy, but most manufacturers recommend that your dog be at least four weeks old. If your dog is younger than four weeks, it may be more difficult to get a DNA swab.
Dog DNA tests we recommend
Best of the best: Embark Dog DNA Test Kit
Our take: Provides not only breed information but health and disease analysis, too, making it one of the most comprehensive dog DNA tests on the market.
What we like: Uses a database that contains 175 breeds. Even tests for coyote, wolf, and village dog DNA. Provides both maternal and paternal background for your dog. Database also analyzes DNA for over 160 diseases. Results are certified by the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
What we dislike: Costs more than many other test kits.
Best bang for your buck: Wisdom Health Wisdom Panel 3.0 Canine DNA Test
Our take: Draws upon one of the largest databases of dog breeds but still comes at a very attractive price point.
What we like: Testing consists of a simple, easy cheek swab. Database features 250 different breeds. Tests for MDR1 drug sensitivity. Shipping is included in kit price and results are available in two to three weeks. Provides nutrition information to help with weight issues, too.
What we dislike: Some users found the results too general, with a high incidence of "mixed breed" results.
Choice 3: Find My Pet DNA Dog DNA Test
Our take: An accurate DNA test that can reliably identify your dog's breed.
What we like: Identifies 100% of AKC-certified dog breeds that are found in your dog's DNA. Results come in a detailed report with the dominant breed as well as health and behavioral tips. Can be used on dogs of all ages, even newborn puppies.
What we dislike: Some users question how complete and accurate the results are.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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