Ever laid your eyes on your dog and wondered about his lineage?
Nowadays, you can track your dog’s pedigree by sending a sample of his DNA to get it analyzed, just as humans do.
Dog DNA test to determine breed has been rising in popularity ever since it first made an appearance in 2007. But, does it work?
Well, let’s find out!
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How Do Dog DNA Tests Work to Determine the Breed?
You might be more similar to your dog than you think. We, humans, share nearly 25 percent of our DNA sequence with our beloved dogs. We even share microbiomes akin to them.
A study found out that families who own canines have microorganisms similar to their dogs all over their bodies than families who don’t, especially on their skin. This is most likely because of the continuous physical contact owners have with their dogs.
These results were obtained by the DNA testing of samples taken from both parties involved.
Genetic testing, or DNA testing, was first made for humans to be able to track their ancestors. This testing was also able to identify any diseases people could inherit, through recognizing changes in their DNA sequence.
These testings were later developed to include dogs as well, where they would:
- Determine the type of breed your dog is whether he was purebred or mixed
- Recognize if he’s prone to any serious medical conditions
- Offer you the chance to understand the personality of your dog by determining his breed
The way dog DNA tests work is the same as how these tests work on humans. A sample is taken from your dog and sent to genetic laboratories. They would run tests on that sample and provide you with the necessary information in a few days.
In some cases, these labs would require an extra amount of time to come with the results. You’d have to wait for a few weeks to obtain the lineage of your pup.
A lot of tests can be run on a single dog DNA sample, as to find out the breed and ancestry profiles of your dog by looking into his sequence.
However, running a test to determine the full genetic profile of your dog is the best option.
This kind of test can be performed on a number of dog breeds, hybrids, purebreds, or mix-breeds, you name it. It can also discover and assess different medical conditions and traits found within your dog.
Once the lab gets a hold on your dog’s sample, the practitioners in charge will begin sequencing the sample. Meaning, they’ll search for any changes in your dog’s genes, chromosomes, or genomes.
They’ll compare the sample you’ve given to the genome sequence of dogs and wolves found in their database as well.
How to Take a DNA Sample from Your Dog
There’s more than one way you can obtain a DNA sample from your dog. The most common one being a saliva specimen.
Before getting a saliva specimen from your dog, you have to make sure he doesn’t eat or drink anything 30 minutes previous to taking the sample.
Pass a cotton swab gently across the side of your dog’s cheek or under his tongue. Make sure the cotton swab is soaked with your dog’s saliva, then place it inside a testing tube.
Another method that’s easier than collecting saliva is collecting your dog’s hair. You can gather the hairs he shed on a comb, or a hairbrush, and send it off to a genetic testing lab.
A blood sample can also be taken from your dog. Of course, such a course of action is better done by a professional vet.
There are kits that can help you take the needed DNA sample and identify the kind of breed your dog is through online testing. They vary in their accuracy, but the popular ones are:
- Embark DNA test kit
- Wisdom Panel kit
Do Dog DNA Tests Work to Determine the Breed?
Accuracy is all that matters when it comes to DNA testing. Finding out which kind of breed your dog is can give you a better insight into your dog’s personality traits and behavioral patterns. It can help you better his lifestyle and nutrition, too.
Dog DNA tests do, in fact, work. But, the downside is that the accuracy of the results is inconsistent.
What Makes Results Inconsistent?
As mentioned earlier, when a DNA sample is presented to a lab, it’ll be compared with the genome sequence of the dogs available in the database. Here’s where the problem lies.
These databases don’t include every dog breed that exists. Although some laboratories include over a 170 dog breed, this isn’t enough to determine every single kind of dog breed there is.
The variety in dog breeds have made it a bit difficult to track the ancestry of many dogs, therefore, irregularities often occur in the results of genetic testing of dogs.
How Can You Obtain Accurate Results that Determine the Breed?
That being said, all hope is not lost in finding your dog’s breed. Some DNA testing organizations offer results that are 95-99 percent accurate.
For instance, the Embark veterinary organization provides you with the opportunity to track your dog’s descents through their testing for 250 breeds, where they use 200,000 genetic markers to do so.
To those who aren’t familiar with the term, genetic markers are specific DNA sequences found on a specific location of a chromosome.
In addition, the American Kennel Club provides parenting evaluation services that tell you how your dog has been perceived. Unfortunately, their services can’t decide the breed of your dog nor if he’s prone to certain risks or diseases.
An Important Tip
A vital aspect to keep in mind when wanting to do a dog DNA testing is the organization’s database. When choosing an organization to send your dog’s sample to, pick the one with the most dog breeds in their databases.
This would increase your chances of finding out the background of your canine, instead of having to run several tests to figure out the pedigree of your dog.
So, can dog DNA tests determine the breed?
Despite the possible human error in their accuracy, running a dog DNA test to determine your dog’s breed would tell you a lot about his characteristics. In addition, it would help you better understand your furry fellow.
Knowing your dog’s makeup will allow you to give him the best possible lifestyle and nutrition. Going for a dog DNA test to determine the breed will certainly benefit you and your pup!