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Home > Dog Behavior, Dog Health > DNA Tests for Mixed Breed Dogs

DNA Tests for Mixed Breed Dogs

September 18th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Should You Have Genetic Testing Done on Your Mixed Breed Dog?

So you’ve adopted a cute little mutt from the local animal shelter.  Wonderful!  You’ve not only saved a life, you’ve also robbed a puppy mill of profit by adopting rather than purchasing a dog from a pet shop.

You think your new family member might be a Golden Retriever crossed with a German Shepherd, with perhaps a little Boxer tossed in.  Many people who adopt mixed breed dogs are turning to DNA test kits to try and determine the genetic heritage of their dogs.

Why Have Dog DNA Testing Done?

Certain dog breeds may be prone to specific health problems.  If the owner knows the dog’s ancestry, perhaps measures can be taken to ensure the dog a longer, healthier life.

DNA Testing May Explain Some of Your Dog's Behaviors

DNA Testing May Explain Some of Your Dog's Behaviors

Additionally, some behavioral traits are breed-specific.  DNA testing may help explain some behaviors in your dog, such as digging, herding and barking.  Knowing your dog’s genetic background may help with fashioning the best routine for training, exercise and discipline.

Finally, finding out your dog’s genetic ancestry may have other consequences, for better or worse.  An example is a recent story from Salina, Kansas about a woman whose mixed breed dog was picked up by animal control officers after it got loose.  The dog appeared to have a lot of pit bull in its ancestry.  Since 2005, the town has banned the unregistered ownership of pit bulls and mixed breeds that are predominantly pit bulls.

DNA testing proved that the dog was not predominantly pit bull, and the owner was permitted to keep her dog.  Of course, DNA testing could very well lead to the opposite outcome if it proves a dog is predominantly a banned breed.

What Dog DNA Tests are Available?

There are at least three main dog DNA tests on the market.  One test offers blood based DNA sampling that is performed by your veterinarian; the others offer at-home cheek swab sampling that you send back and await the results.

Wisdom Panel™ MX

Wisdom Panel™ MX by Mars Veterinary™ offers:

  • Blood based DNA sampling conducted by a veterinarian.
  • Analyzes DNA back to the dog’s great-grandparent level.
  • Tests for at least 157 breeds.
  • Consumers receive results in two to three weeks.
  • Cost is about $120 to $170 per dog.

Wisdom Panel™ Insights is another product offered by Mars Veterinary™.  This DNA kit features:

  • Do-it-yourself cheek swab DNA test kit.
  • Tests for more than 170 breeds, “the largest database on the market,” according to company advertising.
  • Consumers receive results in approximately three weeks.
  • Cost is about $80 per dog.

Canine Heritage® Breed Test

The Canine Heritage® Breed Test consists of:

  • Do-it-yourself cheek swab DNA test kit.
  • Tests for approximately 108 breeds.
  • Consumers receive a Certificate of DNA Breed Analysis listing the dog’s primary, secondary and “in the mix” breeds.
  • Consumers receive test results in four to six weeks.
  • Cost is $100 to $120 per dog.

BioPet DNA Dog Breed Identification

BioPet DNA Dog Breed Identification kits from BioPet Vet Lab feature:

Several Dog DNA Tests are Available

Several Dog DNA Tests are Available

  • Do-it-yourself cheek swab DNA test kit.
  • Tests for 62 breeds.
  • Issues results of detected breeds in decreasing order.
  • Consumers receive results in about two weeks.
  • Cost is about $60 per dog.

What to Expect from Dog DNA Testing

The science of genetics is complex.  The fact that your mixed breed dog appears to have characteristics of a certain breed does not necessarily mean that breed is predominant in your dog.  Most of the DNA test kits do not test to determine if your dog is a purebred.

If numerous generations of your mixed breed dog’s ancestors were also mixed breed dogs (that is, if your dog has no recent pedigree ancestors), the results of the DNA test may be inconclusive.  Additionally, the DNA tests available on the market test for a limited number of recognized breeds.  If your dog’s ancestry is predominantly from a breed that is not included in the test, your results will be inconclusive.

Although there might be sound reasons for wanting to know your dog’s genetic heritage, in the end, you may not be able to find out with any degree of certainty.  Moreover, if you have concerns about your dog’s health issues or behavior, the best place to start is by discussing those concerns with your veterinarian.

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Categories: Dog Behavior, Dog Health
  1. Joe
    September 21st, 2009 at 11:19 | #1

    I work at a large vet clinic and we get this question all the time. Having done over 100 dogs using these tests I would check out DNA Diagnostics Center. http://www.vetdnacenter.com We have found them to be very accurate and reasonably priced at $60…and they just need a cheek swab sample so you can collect the sample yourself at home.

  2. Suzanne
    September 21st, 2009 at 11:33 | #2

    Thanks for the heads-up on the DNA Diagnostics Center, Joe! I followed the link you provided, and it appears this company tests for 60 AKC breeds. They say the test will tell dog owners what percentage of their mixed breed dog’s ancestry is from the breeds detected. They also provide a short Description and Health Summary for each breed detected.

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