It took years after dog DNA testing was introduced to become mainstream.
Nowadays, not only do we have specific DNA tests for every dog breed, but we also have a multitude of ways from which we can produce an accurate DNA profile.
Veterinary forensics can now obtain your dog’s DNA profile from blood, hair, poop, urine, saliva, and even muscles!
In this article, we’ll be analyzing the three most common ways you can get a dog DNA test (blood vs. hair vs. poop). We’ll also be sharing what every method of DNA sampling can allow you to do.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
How to Choose the Best Dog DNA Test?
We conduct DNA tests for our pets to learn a lot of potential information. This knowledge can help us prevent future health problems, be more aware of some behavioral problems, or just obtain more info regarding breeding patterns.
A few things you can discover from your dog’s DNA test are:
- The dog’s breed – Up to 200 different breed types can be analyzed
- The dog’s sex – male or female
- A complete genetic health profile – Some dog breeds develop very specific diseases (PKD) than other dogs
- Potential characteristics and size – If you want to know how big your dog will get and its potential temperament.
- Additional health needs – Like requiring more exercise or needing a specific kind of pet food.
It’s essential that you know exactly what you’re looking for in the DNA results before conducting the test. A lot of the provided data will vary from one test method to another, and even from one lab to another!
Comparing Dog DNA Tests: Blood vs. Hair vs. Poop
Here are the three most common ways to get your dog’s DNA profile
Although the goal is to ultimately obtain a DNA profile for your dog, not all test methods do it the same way.
Blood DNA tests are the most common and probably the oldest way to conduct a DNA test.
You’ll find blood tests everywhere because it’s offered by most laboratories offering DNA tests. Whereas, hair and fecal DNA tests are found in more specialized laboratories.
Hair DNA tests are not exactly, well, hair DNA tests.
This is a common misconception that confuses a lot of pet owners. The DNA samples are still collected using buccal swabs. This, essentially, means that everything about this test (except for how it’s done and what data you receive) is the same as a blood DNA test.
It’s true that fecal DNA is still known to be of lesser quality than the more traditional sources.
You probably won’t find an accurate fecal DNA test that outlines your dog’s breed, nor common health or behavioral problems. They’re also unable to produce specific traits or behavioral problems.
Blood tests are a great way to obtain data regarding your dog’s lifestyle information, common traits and habits, and specific breed information.
How It’s Done
Here we compare the testing method itself, and what laboratories offer these tests.
The sample is collected by obtaining a little bit of blood from a cheek (buccal) swab. Sometimes, a blood sample is drawn by a syringe.
Owners will receive a report that outlines a complete analysis of the dog’s breed, in addition to, a prediction of its adult weight range. Even better, it provides more information regarding any breed-related risks that can potentially develop some genetic diseases.
The laboratory that offers this kind of testing looks for coat curls among several dog breeds. Simply put, the lab receives the sample then analyzes it for an allele that’s called the Hair Curl (or KRT71).
Dogs having 1 copy of this curl allele should have a curly coat, but will actually breed a non-curly coat puppy 50% of the time.
Two copies of this allele mean that 100% of the offspring will have curly hair. VetDNACentre provides more information on the process, and also carries out those tests and delivers them to you.
PooPrints is the first US-based company to take advantage of this method, and for something entirely different!
They want all dogs in the participating areas to provide a sample of their DNA (by blood, hair, cheek swab…etc) and build a database comprising each and every dog’s profile.
Next, when someone finds unwanted dog poop on the street, they’ll collect a sample from it and send it to PooPrints, where they’ll analyze it and figure out exactly whose dog is responsible for that.
PooPrints is an ambitious project that wants to put a solution for dog waste and end it once and for all, but that’s about it.
It’s no question that blood tests produce the most data, compared to the other counterparts.
However, if you’re a breeder and looking to get some mating information, the hair DNA test might be for you!
How Long Does It Take?
Every test has a unique process that takes a specific amount of time. Let’s discuss each process.
You should expect to receive the results within 2 to 3 weeks.
Hair samples are collected and analyzed in under 12 hours. They don’t need to go through a lot of procedures to obtain the allele blueprints.
PooPrints can confirm which dog pooped on the property is within less than a week.
Hair DNA tests are by far the quickest way to obtain a result, whereas blood samples take a significantly longer time to be analyzed.
We can’t possibly know for sure if the tests we’re conducting are 100% accurate, so it’s always best to try out different sources if you’re in doubt.
Some more factors that affect the accuracy of your test are:
- The quality of the dog’s DNA sample.
- The number of genetic markers the test company can analyze
- How many breeds can the test company successfully identify
- If your dog is a 1st of 2nd generation for a purebred. The less pure the breed, the less reliable the results are.
Blood samples in DNA testing are considered the most accurate way to test your dog, along with swab samples.
How does this help profiling your dog? If you’re a breeder, you can use this type of DNA testing to manage mating patterns more effectively. It’ll also allow you to make more informed selection decisions.
If you get offered a fecal DNA test that can give you breed information, you should probably look elsewhere, because there’s absolutely no proof that this is an accurate, if attainable, feat.
Again, blood tests secure the win here. They have the most extensive range of data with the best accuracy.
With more and more people getting access to dog DNA tests, it’s imperative that you stay up-to-date with all the latest and most prominent types and methods.
If you’ve followed through this article, you now know the best way to carry out the most accurate test with the highest compliance rate!