Dog DNA Tests: How Accurate Are They?

From shelter mutts, pure-breed hounds, and celebrity dogs, DNA testing at home promises to provide you with answers to questions about the genetic make up of your four-legged pet.

Most owners are surprised by the outcome of their dog’s DNA tests. They also find it difficult to accept that their preconceived ideas about the genetic history of their dog might be false.

In this article, we’ll reply fully to the question: dog DNA tests: how accurate are they? As you read through the article, you’ll find out why you need accurate DNA tests, and how much the extra accuracy could cost.

What are Dogs DNA Tests?

It is no surprise that those of us who are willing to adopt, not shop, are curious about the breeds of the mutts that we bring home. These dogs are like our children and they become part of our family.

A favorite part of learning the genetic makeup of any dog is seeing the race traits of the dog. For example, some races are known for their cattle drive and it’s interesting to see that drive reflected in one other mutt.

Many DNA kits can be found on the market. Pet owners take a cheek swab, which is then enclosed into a package, and submitted to a laboratory. They receive the findings a few weeks later.

Why Do You Need An Accurate DNA Test?

The findings of accurate research indicate the genetic and heritable elements of diseases that are related to these breeds. In certain situations, you can save the life of your dog or promote its wellbeing.

The owner gets the DNA results on his dog after approximately 2 weeks. Upon selection of the prevailing species of the specific dog, the owner should address any potential health issues with the particular breed with the veterinarian.

For example, a DNA check reveals that 25% of Dobermans are genetically susceptible to the hereditary reproductive condition Von Willebrand.

Another instance is how dog DNA testing reveals the breed predispositions of Boxers, Irish Wolfhounds, St. Bernards, Flat-coated Retrievers and Bernese Mountain Dogs to cancer development.

Are Any Dog DNA Tests 100% Accurate?

After much research, conflicting views were found about the accuracy of DNA testing for dogs.

It was revealed that the more accurate and costly the dog’s DNA test becomes, the more details (genetic information) a company has.

That is why we can see tests between $60 and $200, tests with the least cost, tend to be less accurate than the more expensive alternatives. Many people even suggest that pet owners go to an organization that has data on the majority if not all, AKC-recognized races.

Is it 100% accurate? the answer is no. For starters, the breed identification kits on the market today do not have each dog breed in their directories, which means information can not be accessed for each dog.

One of the biggest issues is that you end up paying for a bunch of testing for diseases, that your dog has little chance of ever developing.

Although the findings of such tests should not be used to direct treatment decisions by pet parents and veterinarians alone, in some situations they may help to monitor or treat them.

If a pet parent is unsure and prefers to be cautious about the animal’s safety or its physical characteristic, it may be best to check the DNA in an animal species that is known for its health issues.

If you worry about the well-being of your pet or wish to read more about its history, a DNA check would definitely not harm. It’s really easy to do, and it’ll be worth waiting for the test results.

Factors That Affect The Accuracy of The Tests

As stated above, not all these tests are accurate, and it’s mostly because of certain common factors that hinder the results’ precision.

None of the companies that perform dog DNA tests admit that their databases of reference are inadequate for the precise identification of your dog’s single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) – but they may suggest that their competitors could.

Both the firms will probably be able to demonstrate that there are hundreds of thousands of genes that affect the appearance of a dog and that certain breed mixes contribute to dogs that are very different from the blend of breeds.

Furthermore, genes in mixed breeds do not combine in all litter matrices in the same way, so size and physical and behavioral traits can differ widely and sometimes in the same litter.

These companies also clarify that the nature of the mixture in your dog can influence the precision of the tests.

It is relatively easy to identify first-generation crosses between purebred parents. But, the length of the SNPs that are uniquely purebred inherent in the dogs in several generations is far more difficult to identify with certainty.

That’s because, with each generation of mixed-breed progeny, their length becomes much shorter. Identification issues will also occur when there is a lot of variation within a single breed group, as in the case of the Australian Shepherds and the Border Collies.

Genetic signatures in the databases of companies are usually per display lines so that Aussies and BCs are sometimes assigned to another species entirely.

That means, in most cases, it’s the issue with the breed itself, not with the company. Sometimes it might be related to the degree of mixture of the breed. Other times, there might be some inconsistencies in the system itself.

Other than this, most companies; like for example Embark and Wisdom Panel, allow customers to call and ask any questions about the results.

Most Popular Dog DNA Tests and Their Level of Accuracy

There are plenty of Dog DNA tests in the market. However, not all of them have the same degree of accuracy. Some of them help identify a certain amount of breeds, others might even have a bigger directory to help match up more breeds.

It all really depends on the price of the product. After checking out most of the products available in the market, the tests that caught our eyes were the ones that had a success rating of over 94%.

These were the ones that were guaranteed to have a good enough directory where any testing can yield a proper result. It was also noted that these tests were slightly more expensive than the others in the market.

One of these tests is the Embark Dog DNA test. This test is the most expensive one in the market and has a huge directory that includes 350+ breeds. It also can screen about 175+ potential conditions in dogs.

Another test that was widely acclaimed by most owners was the Wisdom Panel Health Canine DNA Test. It also contains about 350 breeds in its directory and can screen up to 150 potential conditions.

It’s a little less expensive than Embark, but it’s still considered more expensive than others in the market.

Both of these tests are pretty popular with breeders and with owners alike. Mostly for their accuracy and their ease of use.

Conclusion

Up until this day, official quality standards in diagnostic laboratories for canine genetic testing are not yet available. As a result, your dog DNA tests can technically present wrong results.

So, to put it shortly, while some Dog DNA tests can yield accurate results, they’re still not 100% legit. Some inconsistencies may occur, and it wholly depends on the type of test you’re using.

We hope this answered your question regarding the accuracy of dogs’ DNA tests.