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Best Dog DNA Tests

Updated December 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 19 Models Considered
  • 5 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 131 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best dog DNA tests

    Last Updated December 2018

    When you adopt a dog, it’s common to have little or no idea of her breed. You can make an educated guess with some dogs based on their appearance, but it can be tricky to pinpoint all the breeds that produced your perfect mutt. A dog DNA test, however, can tell you your dog’s ancestry as far back as his great-grandparents.

    While you might want a dog DNA test simply to satisfy your curiosity, knowing your dog’s background also allows you to look out for any breed-specific health or behavioral issues. But unless you happen to be a canine geneticist, finding the right test kit can seem baffling.

    For everything you need to know to choose the best dog DNA test for you and your canine companion, we’ve created this shopping guide.

    You can find dog DNA tests that give you an estimated healthy adult weight for your dog, which can aid in keeping your dog in good shape or give you an idea of how big your puppy will get.

    What’s in the box?

    When you purchase a dog DNA test, what exactly do you get for your money? Different options will vary, but you’ll generally receive two to four swabs for taking a DNA sample, an insert for drying the swabs, a sleeve or test tube to put the swabs inside for transport, a label for the sample, and full instructions for the procedure.

    This might not sound like much, but you’re not really paying for what’s in the box, you’re paying for the DNA testing.

    Health monitoring for life

    Sure, it might be pricey, but the Embark Dog DNA Test Kit is by far the most comprehensive on the market. Not only does it have a breed database exceeding 250 at the time of writing (and ever growing), it scans your dog for over 160 diseases, genetic mutations, and drug sensitivities. What’s more, the folks at Embark will update your dog’s test for free when new genetic markers become available.

    Key considerations

    Number of breeds detected

    All companies that offer dog DNA tests have their own databases featuring the genetic markers for certain dog breeds. The larger the database, the more likely you’ll get accurate results, especially if you have a suspicion that your four-legged friend has some rare breeds in the mix.

    The companies with the largest databases can identify your canine companion from over 350 breeds, including more than 99% of breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, so you have virtually all your bases covered. Some manufacturers of cheaper tests have databases of fewer than 100 breeds, so it’s more of a gamble as to whether your pup’s ancestors will be represented.

    Health screening

    Some dog DNA tests provide a range of health screenings in addition to the breed information. These tests don’t necessarily tell you that your dog has a health condition but that she’s predisposed toward a certain condition. This lets you monitor your dog, with the assistance of his veterinarian, and may end up giving you some precious extra years together.

    The most comprehensive dog DNA tests screen for over 150 different health conditions, genetic abnormalities, and more. Some more basic tests only screen for one or two conditions, such as the multi-drug resistance-1 (MDR-1) genetic marker, which identifies dogs who will suffer severe reactions to a number of common medications. You’ll also find tests that offer a rudimentary overview of your dog’s general health – by analyzing hormones, vitamin levels, and other vitals – as well as those that can tell you if your dog has any food or environmental allergies or sensitivities.

    Turnaround time

    If you want your doggy DNA test results in a hurry, pay close attention to the turnaround time. Some companies aim to give you your test results within two weeks of receiving your dog's samples, whereas others take as long as six to eight weeks. Ultimately, unless you have a legitimate reason you need the test back sooner, consider the overall quality of the test before worrying about the turnaround time.

    Accuracy

    A range of factors influences the accuracy of the results. As we touched on before, the greater the number of dog breeds in a company’s database, the more likely you are to get an accurate picture of your dog’s genetic background.

    However, accuracy can also be determined by how many genetic markers the test analyzes. The top tests match your pooch’s DNA with more than 200,000 genetic markers, whereas inexpensive tests are likely to have far fewer markers in their databases. When looking for genetic diseases, the method used to analyze the genes is also important. Some companies use two independent methods to test each mutation for the most accurate results.

    Price

    The cheapest dog DNA tests on the market retail for around $60 to $75. These tests tend to analyze DNA using much smaller databases, and therefore the accuracy of the results is debatable. For around $80 to $120, you can find some excellent mid-range offerings that will give you accurate breed results but offer little in the way of health screening. High-end dog DNA tests that provide accurate ancestry results and health screening cost between $150 and $200.

    EXPERT TIP

    Check whether your chosen dog DNA test includes prepaid shipping for your swabs. If not, you’ll need to factor in the postage cost, too.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    There are some dog DNA tests that give you a stress test result in addition to your dog’s breed and other health information.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Some breeds are susceptible to certain health conditions, so knowing your dog’s breed will clue you into potential future problems, and you’ll know what to watch out for.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Tips

    • Think about whether you’d like a test that tells you your dog’s age. This is a great idea if you adopted a dog whose age is unknown.

    • Decide how much you want to know about your pet’s health. Some people want a full health screening to cover all the bases, whereas others would rather not know their beloved dog has a predisposition to a condition that nothing can be done about. The choice is yours to make.

    • Check how comprehensive a report you’ll get. Some reports tell you the exact breeds of your dog’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, whereas others give you a percentage of each breed in your dog’s genetic makeup. Some offer health, diet, and exercise advice, whereas others just list the facts.

    • Do you want raw DNA data? Only a small number of dog DNA tests give you access to raw DNA data upon request. Although most people don’t want or need this, it’s a great resource for those who do.

    A bountiful database of breeds

    The Wisdom Health Panel 3.0 Breed Identification DNA Test Kit has a huge breed database – with over 350 breeds on file at the time of writing – so it’s more likely to pick up on rare or obscure breeds to give you a clearer picture of your dog’s ancestry. While it does test for MDR-1, there’s no other genetic health screening involved, so this kit is only a good choice if you’re simply interested in testing for ancestry, not health.

    Others products we considered

    Dog DNA tests are a relatively new product, so there aren’t a huge number to choose from presently, though it’s likely the market will expand in time. The five tests in our product matrix are our top choices, but there’s a small handful of others worth considering.

    The Wisdom Panel Mixed Breed DNA Test Kit is another offering from Wisdom Health, but it is geared toward mixed-breed dogs. The results go back three generations, giving you an excellent overview of your dog’s origins. The same company also produces the Wisdom Panel Health Canine DNA Test Kit, which screens for more than 150 health conditions, as well as your dog’s breed.

    Some dog DNA tests offer free updates for life. If the company finds new data points to test, they’ll retest your dog’s sample for free and add the results to your online panel.

    FAQ

    Q. Why would I want to test my dog’s DNA?

    A. If you don’t know what breeds went into making your four-legged friend, a dog DNA test will tell you. You might simply be curious, or you might want to know what kind of breed-specific traits or ailments to be aware of. You can also test your dog’s DNA for potential health concerns, allowing you to get treatment early or watch out for signs and symptoms.

    Q. How do I get a DNA sample from my dog?

    A. Your test kit will come with two or more swabs that you rub inside your dog’s cheek to get a sample. The kit will give you exact instructions, which you should follow to the letter. Otherwise, you might not get a useable sample.

    Q. How will I receive my dog’s DNA results?

    A. You will usually get an email when your dog’s DNA results are ready. The results may be attached to the email, or you might have to log into the company’s website to see the results. If any health concerns have been identified, the company will often call you or send an additional email with further explanation.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jacob
      Jacob
      Editorial Manager
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer

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