How Accurate Are DNA Tests for Dogs?

Has your pet’s ancestry piqued your interest? Care to know more about its lineage to satisfy your genealogical curiosity?

Luckily for you, technology has evolved in such a way that it can basically give you all the details you’re after with one simple test. But just how accurate are DNA tests for dogs?

What Does a Dog DNA Test Tell You

Not surprisingly at all, dog DNA testing works much in the same way as the one used for humans. A simple cheek swab can reveal a wealth of information that might surprise you and be helpful in the future.

Breed Characteristics and Traits

First and foremost, you’ll have the chance to learn more about why your pup is the way it is. From physical attributes to certain quirky behaviors that you just can’t seem to explain, dog DNA tests can help you uncover some pretty interesting details.

Generally speaking, the sample is cross-referenced with a specialized library of hundreds of specific breeds. This will provide some insight into whether your pooch is a mixed breed or an entirely purebred variety. By comparing its ancestors across the family tree, you’ll be able to notice similarities in terms of temperament, appearance, and other relevant information.

Health History and Genetic Risks

Even if you have access to past medical records from close relatives, the canine genome is so complex that you can’t possibly keep tabs on all potential abnormalities. Dedicated DNA testing allows you to look at the big picture and get an idea of whether your pet is at risk of developing certain abnormalities, congenital conditions, and genetic disorders.

By exploring your pup’s genetic markers, you can be more aware of the warning signs associated with certain conditions and be prepared for treatment should the need for it arises. Both you and your vet will be able to provide thorough care if you have all the necessary details.

Diet and Nutritional Recommendations

Believe it or not, DNA testing can also provide a healthy weight range for a specific breed. This is particularly useful if you’re testing a puppy because you’ll have a better idea of how big it’s supposed to grow once it reaches adult life.

Some kits even offer dietary profiles based on your canine’s age, size, and breed specification. This can include anything from identifying nutritional gaps to recommendations on which vitamins and minerals should be incorporated into their everyday routine.

How Accurate Are DNA Tests for Dogs

For the most part, the dog DNA test accuracy depends on a handful of factors, including the viability of the sample, the testing method, and the scope of the screening that’s taking place. Each company’s database of existing samples may vary in scope and most of the methodologies used in the screening itself aren’t readily accessible to the public. So, there’s a lot we don’t know.

While there is some anecdotal evidence to corroborate the findings—the dog’s hair or eye color, both of which can be confirmed by the owners themselves—other aspects of the results can’t be verified in similar ways.

But this doesn’t mean that the tests are a waste of money, but they do need to be taken with a grain of salt because they can potentially miss the mark in certain areas.

And since there are no third-party sources to support the initial claims, we’ll just have to make do with the information that we have. At the very least, the results we get could be a great conversation starter with fellow dog owners, wouldn’t you agree?

However, we did review some of the best DNA testing companies that boast an impressive accuracy of 90% or higher for their tests, so take a peek at those for the highest accuracy.

How Much Does a Dog DNA Test Cost

The price point for the DNA testing kit can range anywhere from $60 to well over $200. Naturally, the more expensive varieties offer a more in-depth approach, with insights into genetic mutations, the inherent production of cells, and other relevant breed information.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the higher price tag doesn’t necessarily guarantee more accurate results. Given the lack of peer-reviewed data and research, there’s a high chance that the $60 test will be just as insightful as the $200 variety.

Which Dog DNA Test Should I Buy

If you’re looking for the best possible solution on how to test your dog’s DNA, you’ll need to consider several factors to ensure you’re making the right choice for your specific breed.

Your Budget

As entertaining or enlightening as these kits might be, not all of us have the financial means to afford them. Try to find some sort of middle ground between the funds you have available and the scope information you want to get from your DNA testing service.

DNA Test Accuracy

Whether or not you take the company’s accuracy claims to heart is entirely up to you. No testing methodology is 100% correct, so most services claim to be in the 90% to 99% range. If you feel more inclined to the higher percentage, feel free to give it a go. Just keep in mind that it might set you back a bit more compared to other, less accurate options.

Breed Reference Database

Of course, the number of existing samples that your pup’s DNA will be cross-referenced with will play an important role in the viability of the results. Having a larger number to compare it to will inherently increase the test’s accuracy and offer greater insight into your canine’s genes. Make sure to look for services with at least 100 samples in their database, with more advanced options going as high as 350.

Medical Conditions and Dog Traits

What does your specific test entail? Does it include basic ancestry tracing or can it provide health screenings for genetic diseases and additional breed traits? What about their relation to other animal species, such as bears or wolves?

For some brands, these features are all included in the price, while others consider them as add-ons that you have to pay extra for.

Veterinarian Consultations

Finally, if you’re unsure which test might be the most suitable for your particular situation, you can consult your vet for professional guidance. Most of them have had at least some basic experience with DNA testing and its implications, so they’ll be able to advise you on which route to take.

Key Takeaways

So, how accurate are DNA tests for dogs?

Even though there’s no way of confirming the relevance of the results—unless you want to splurge on another test from a different brand and see for yourself—these genetic tests can be quite useful in determining breed-specific information and potential health risks down the line.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can DNA tell the breed of a dog?

Yes, DNA testing is an effective means of determining your pup’s breed identity and family tree.

How do you tell what a dog is mixed with?

A simple DNA test with a classic cheek swab can tell you if your dog is a mixed species or has a purebred pedigree. In fact, you’ll likely get a percentage-based result with a detailed ancestry report.

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