A Guide To DNA Testing For Dogs

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Have you ever wondered about the genetic makeup of your mixed breed dog?

You’re not the only one — and DNA testing for dogs is the way to find out exactly what type of dog you have.

dog breed dna test

Determining a breed by physical appearance alone can be misleading, therefore it’s no surprise that more and more dog owners are using DNA testing to discover more about their dog’s genetic makeup.

New advances in technology mean that a dog breed DNA test no longer requires an expensive trip to the vet — there are now a variety of affordable dog DNA test kits available for home use that can be bought easily online or in pet stores.

Let’s find out more…

Benefits of DNA Tests for Dogs

Natural curiosity aside, there are some very important reasons why you may want to invest in a dog breed DNA test.

Knowing what breeds make up a mixed mutt’s heritage can be extremely valuable information — particularly if your dog is young and you want to know in advance how he will turn out.

The results of a DNA test for dogs can be used to research the breeds in your dog’s genetic makeup and give you helpful indicators.

For example you will be better equipped to determine the unique temperament of your pet — whether he will make a good family dog or a good guard dog. Knowing your dog’s lineage can help with training methods too — for example a dog with Border Collie genes will respond better to certain types of training and socializing than a Chow Chow mix might.

These results can also help ascertain the amount of exercise and food your dog needs, what kind of games he prefers playing, or whether he will be happy to be left alone while you are at work.

DNA testing for dogs can also flag up potential genetic health issues (for example neurological issues or hereditary blindness) or diseases your dog may be susceptible to, enabling you to discuss them with your veterinarian and anticipate your dog’s future needs.

This is particularly crucial if you are considering breeding from your pet, as you must be sure not to pass on any hereditary defects or risks to potential puppies.

More and more commonly, dog DNA testing is being used as a foolproof means of identifying your dog. Once he has a genetic profile it can be stored as a permanent record throughout his life.

It can be used in the same way as a fingerprint for humans – each dog has a totally unique profile. This can be an effective means of identifying your four legged friend if he gets lost, or if he is stolen.

dna testing for dogs

How Does it Work?

When choosing the right DNA test for your dog, there are several factors to take into account.

Procedures may vary from test to test, and not all tests have the same number of breeds that can be identified in their database.

There are also differences in how long it will take for you to receive your results, the way the results are presented, and of course, price.

Vets use blood tests to get the necessary genetic information required for a DNA test, but home dog DNA tests require cheek swab samples.

This is a mostly accurate and simple procedure, although owners must be careful to avoid contaminating the swabs. With blood testing the chances of contamination are greatly reduced.

Taking a cheek swab sample from your pooch is quick and painless (although it can sometimes be a little tricky if your dog doesn’t like having things in his mouth).

Home dog DNA test kits provide special swabs which should be rubbed on the inside of your dog’s cheek for around 30 seconds (tests usually include more than one swab to assure greater accuracy), which you then package up and send off to the laboratory at the address provided.

Results normally take between 2 and 3 weeks to arrive depending on the test used.

These can often be surprising, leading some owners to question the accuracy of such dog DNA tests.

However most DNA tests can identify the majority of breeds in a dog with considerable accuracy, although it is far easier to achieve accurate results for a dog with at least one purebred parent or grandparent than it is for a dog with a wide variety of breeds mixed together.

The Best DNA Tests for Dogs

Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 3.0 Breed Identification DNA Test Kit

One of the bestselling dog DNA testing kits available, Wisdom Panel 3.0 owes its high accuracy to the huge genetic database of over 250 dog breeds it uses to determine results.

This test works by using a simple cheek swab to collect skin samples, which is then delivered free of charge to the laboratory.

The test also includes weight indicators for dogs and puppies to help you determine correct diet and exercise regimes, and MDR1 drug sensitivity screening (important to avoid the risk of adverse drug reactions) is included as part of the price.

After 2-3 weeks, mixed breed dogs will receive a report of their breed heritage as far back as their great-grandparents, with profiles to explain in detail each of the breeds in their lineage and their traits.


  • Great customer care
  • Clean, sophisticated results report design
  • Accurate – uses large database
  • Interactive online breed report can be downloaded as PDF
  • Affordable price
  • Fast results


  • No genetic mutation testing

dna test for dogs

Embark Dog DNA Test

This comprehensive, cutting edge dog DNA test has a solid scientific grounding.

This test is one of a kind and uses around 200,000 genetic markers to provide detailed information about the breeds that make up your dog’s ancestry as well testing for over 160 genetic diseases (including Multi-Drug Sensitivity, cardiovascular issues and glaucoma).

The results of this thorough testing are provided in detailed reports which can be shared with your veterinarian, an interactive guide, and an user-friendly app.


  • Extremely accurate
  • Each purchase contributes funding and genetic testing to animal shelters
  • Results are updated retrospectively as new information becomes available
  • Includes weight prediction
  • Can estimate your dog’s age
  • Results contribute to science
  • Excellent, detailed reports


  • Comparatively expensive
  • Long turnaround time for results (6-8 weeks)

dna test for dogs

Dog DNA – Canine Breed Identification Test

This simple dog DNA test kit uses a database of around 90 different dog breeds.

Swab your dog’s cheek with the kit provided and send off the sample to receive results around 2 weeks after the laboratory receives your sample.

The results are presented as a custom photo certificate detailing the main breeds that make up your pooch, along with a report on his character traits and possible health issues.


  • Cheaper than other dog DNA tests
  • Simple cheek swab test
  • Attractive custom certificate including a photo of your dog, with information regarding their DNA composition
  • Great if you just want basic information


  • Health and personality information is not very detailed
  • Smaller breed database so possibly less accurate and detailed results than other tests

dna test for dogs


Wisdom Panel 2.0 Breed Identification DNA Test Kit

Very similar to the Wisdom Panel 3.0 DNA test kit, this previous version uses the same testing and analysis methods but with slightly less sophisticated result reports.


  • Excellent customer service
  • Simple to use
  • Accurate – uses large genetic database
  • Affordable price
  • Fast results


  • More basic reports than the newer updated version of the test (Wisdom 3.0)
  • Similar price to the newer updated version of the test

dna test for dogs

Have you tried DNA testing for dogs yet?

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