Dog DNA Tests – Is It Worth Your Money?

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
What can a dog DNA test tell you? It turns out that you can learn a lot from a simple swamp. Read on and discover if you should invest in dog DNA tests.

Are you an owner of an adorable mixed breed who follows you around all day long?

Or do you have a purebred canine, who is more than happy to say hello every time you enter the room? Have you ever wondered if they could be related – your mixed breed dor and neigbours purebred canine, for example?

Owning a dog is such a thrill and serious commitment, that people often want to know more about dogs, especially those who are not sure just how mixed their Fido is.

As a logical step, people turn to DNA tests to learn more about their dog and the breed.

Millions of Americans are stepping in when it comes to dog ownership, and it comes as no surprise that they reach out toward dog DNA tests to learn about their dog’s well-being, possible issues down the road, and finally to see how many different breeds is in one dog.

What Breed Is That?

If you are an owner of a mixed breed you have probably heard this question a few times… If not whenever you go out, meet a child who wants to pet your mixed fluffy ball of joy, or whenever you enter a different pet shop.

People are usually curious about the appearance of mixed breed dogs. They are unusual, have mixed coats, many have eyes of different colors, and many even have mixed coats in terms of structure and thickness.

This is usually common with dogs that are rescues, although some breeds are considered to be purebred but are still mixed, like Sheepadoodle.

So, when you get the question – what breed is that? can you answer?

The common answer is whether – I don’t know, or it’s a mixed breed of many, but has German Sheperd in him, because of the shedding amount… Or something similar – you get the picture.

To learn the answer once and for all people, turn to medicine. In fact, people turn to a dog DNA test, to help them learn more about their dog’s genes.

What Do DNA Tests Check For?

Dog DNA tests are created by top geneticists and are mostly used by veterinarians across the globe to determine various conditions in dogs.

As a general rule, DNA tests identify breeds, traits, and key health conditions in dogs.

DNA tests are a handy tool that helps you better understand your dog’s genetics.

DNA dog tests are specially designed types of tests that can tell you about specific conditions or if they may pass on the genes associated with these conditions if they’re bred from.

How Does DNA Testing Work?

DNA tests are at their core very simple to use. They are easy to easy and light to transport.

DNA dog tets are pretty much straightforward – to get the test, all you have to do is to take a simple mouth swab from inside your dog’s mouth (usually from their cheek). This practice is common no matter which DNA dog test you go for.

However, some DNA tests may require a qualified person to take a blood sample from your dog. This is very rare and with most tests, you should be able to do it by yourself.

Will DNA Testing Provide Needed Answers?

The very first thing that you should alwasy bear in mind is that dog DNA tests aren’t as accurate as human DNA tests. Plus, the DNA itself isn’t ending.

Since DNA tests are becoming more and more popular, veterinarians and scientists are worried that people could easily confuse a DNA-based risk with illness.

Dog’s Genetics

The DNA comes in coiled strands called chromosomes. A dog has 39 pairs of chromosomes, while humans have 23 pairs.

To put this into perspective when compared with additional animals, you should know that cats have 19 pairs of chromosomes.

Chromosomes are chains. Precisely, they are long chains of four smaller molecules called nucleotides (NU-klee-oh-tydz).

These molecules, nucleotides, occur constantly, over and over again – like billion times, creating unique and long sequences.

Not that long ago, determining the sequence was an extremely long and expensive process. However, as science grew and new tools got developed, experts came up with other ways to detect genetic differences.

One of the new approaches depends on the fact that much of the nucleotides, otherwise known as sequences, are the same from one dog or cat to another dog or cat.

Also, from time to time, one of the four nucleotide building blocks has randomly been substituted for another.

In a way, it’s like misspelling a word in a long paragraph. These spelling mistakes are scientifically called SNPs (pronounced snips).

Sometimes this mistake doesn’t change much, but in some cases, a single alteration could happen that would change the whole meaning of the passage.

In the existing world of genetics, a single SNP may change at least part of the function of some cells or tissues.

For example, a single alternation can make a dog more or less likely to get a disease.

So, many dog DNA tests are in fact patterns of SNPs. Different groups of SNPs can tell/determine a dog’s breed or ancestry, while some are linked to certain diseases.

But… The interesting fact here is that dog DNA tests, as well those for the cats, look at SNPs that scientific circles already know about. Does it mean that there are other potential SNPs to be found?

Yes, there are other potential SNPs actually waiting to be found. In fact, DNA contains large regions that can be copied over and over again, or that could be deleted entirely.

Puppy gets DNA from each parent. After all, each parent passes along half of its DNA, which collects traits over generations. Still, getting enough DNA to truly understand and determine dog behavior.

So far, we know that dogs and humans aren’t much different and that genetics helped enormously to understand what makes people suffer from certain disorders and diseases. Just like humans, dogs get psychiatric disorders.

Just, in pets, they’re called behavioral disorders. You know that dogs can suffer from anxiety, or even become obsessive about destructive actions, such as herding, chewing, and retrieving.

Again, it’s not easy to predict certain behaviors in dogs, due to DNA only. In fact, getting that DNA is a challenging task.

For example, a curly coat or even pointy ears might be controlled by one or a few genes.

On the other hand, behavior is much more difficult to locate. Why?

One behavior could be controlled by many genes, and to find them all a study of thousands and thousands or tens of thousands of dogs should be conducted, which is challenging. Plus, since they are all dogs they all will have very similar DNA.

So… Should You Test Your Dog’s DNA?

It’s tempting to run and buy the first dog DNA kit that comes across your way. These kits are known for being pricey.

The price can go up to $200 and you should double-think about purchasing it before you do it.

Determine your goals:

  • What do you want to learn?
  • Is it to discover your dog’s relatives?
  • Is it to learn about your dog’s behavior?
  • Is it to see if your dog has some medical issues?

Now, when you decide the goal ask – does the price matches those expectations? Bear in mind that you might get incomplete information. Or you could get more than you asked for.

Still, you should alwasy bear in mind that when it comes to predicting diseases in dogs, experts claim that these kits are limited as they are still developing.

Limitations Of Dog DNA Testing

The research is still ongoing, and there are no final nor clear outcomes. In fact, they are more just into the beginning of the process.

There is too much data, and tens of thousands of test subjects, which is something to achieve in human medicine, let alone in animal one.

There are too many breeds and crossbreeds of dogs which makes detailed research long, exhausting, and time-consuming.

But… Are these tests precise? Canine experts claim that dog DNA tests are something that shouldn’t be trusted completely because there is more research to be conducted.

Plus, results are hard to interpret. With so many tests being sold directly to consumers, there is an obligation from experts to help dog owners.

In fact, their role is to help them understand the complex information they’re presented with.

For example, some conditions are usually linked with multiple genes, but genetic testing companies usually may test only one of those genes.

As expected, this may result in dog owners believing that their Fido is safe and clean from any kind of disease. There is also another side of the medal, where owners choose to put their dog to sleep, due to poor genetic results.

Yes, genetic test results are often misinterpreted or over-interpreted.

Even if you get some right information, you should take them with caution, and not believe the 100%. Here is what a dog DNA test can actually tell you about your dog.

Things a Dog DNA Test Can Tell You About Your Dog

Yes, dog DNA tests can tell you about your dog’s breed more than you actually know. Here is what a dog DNA test should tell you about your dog.

1. Breed & Traits Information

Dog owners are usually more than excited to learn what breeds make up their new mixed breed.

Dog DNA test results include your dog’s breed mix by a percentage based on a library of anywhere from 250-350 unique dog breeds, which is a significant base.

You may get many breeds in results and get additional information on each breed, including:

  • History
  • Appearance
  • Temperament

And some related breed information, including fun facts. You may also discover the dog’s ancestry and ‘dog family tree’ in a way, and even maternal line.

The maternal line can show which regions the mother’s ancestry is traced back. You can also expect to see their genetic age and trait information.

Trait information may include:

  • Coat color
  • Coat length
  • Body size
  • Amount and frequency of shedding
  • Eye color
  • Genetic diversity
  • Altitude tolerance

2. Health And Genetic Risks

Certain dog DNA tests include a health screening. These tests can screen up to 150 genetic diseases, and show if your dog is at risk or not – like mentioned earlier this is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted or final.

For any doubts about your dog’s health and overall well-being, you should talk with your veterinarian. Regular check-ups are the best cure.

Nothing beats prevention to both human and animals health.

If a dog’s DNA test tests positive for some of the conditions, you should be a proactive owner.

This means that you should take a test with your veterinarian, learn more about that specific condition, and as your dog ages to monitor him closely for symptoms, so you could provide comprehensive care later on.

3. Weight And Nutritional Recommendations

Once you get a dog, you are directly responsible for this weight. Providing high-quality dog food and a proper amount of exercise is the only way to keep yoru dog away from obesity.

Obesity in pets is something thats on teh rise across the States, and you want to keep your dog away from these statistics.

This is where dog DNA tests can help you with. Some DNA tests provide nutritional facts based on your dog’s size and breed mixes.

These recommendations may include nutrients and minerals to help your dog’s health and support joint, digestion, and improve skin and coat.

This kind of test may be helpful to your veterinarian to create better diet guidelines and help you create the right diet and supplements for your dog.

4. Find Your Dog’s Relatives

Could you actually find your dog’s siblings? You should know that dogs do attach to their siblings as humans do – you can read more about it here.

Still, if it happens that you do find your dog’s sibling, just gave that other owner a ring, and organize a doggy playtime.

Since updates happen continually, it can take years before you hear that there is a match/a relative in tehir base.

5. Research Contributions

This is where you can give, and help other dog owners. When you send in your dog’s DNA, you are directly helping soem significant veterinary genetic research studies.

Various researchers are helping veterinarians better understand certain conditions and things such as:

  • Obesity in pets
  • Diabetes
  • Aging
  • Preventive care
  • Diseases
  • Behavioral issues

Moreover, with each passing day, the database is growing and veterinarians are learning more and more on various issues.

As time goes on, new features and results can become available to you.

Picking A Dog DNA Test

When it comes down to proper dog DNA testing, you should choose the best dog DNA test available.

When it comes to choosing the best dog DNA test it all comes down to what you are searching for in DNA and how much you want to spend.

Different tests come with different price points. Do some research, look for promotions and sales, see what you want to know about, and purchase test on those needs.