When Fetching Tails rescues a dog, we guesstimate its breed based on appearance and encourage potential adopters to focus on personality traits (observed by the FTF foster) when choosing a furry friend. But after your pooch has settled into your home, you may become curious about his or her precise genetic makeup. Are Mastiff genes making your Chihuahua mix act like she’s a big dog? Does your 75-pound Golden Retriever mix, who insists on curling up on your lap every time you sit down, have Yorkie in his bloodline? If curiosity is getting the better of you, dog DNA testing may provide some answers.
The process of DNA testing is straightforward: order a test kit from Amazon, Chewy, or other online retailers, swab your dog’s cheek to collect saliva, and send the sample off in the mail. At the lab, your dog’s sample will be compared against an extensive breed DNA database. Embark, Wisdom Panel, and Orivet have the largest databases, testing for 250 to 350 breeds, including dingoes, village dogs, coyotes, and wolves. Embark and Orivet also scan for more than 150 genetic diseases/disorders. DNA My Dog is a less expensive option with a smaller database, although the majority of common US dog breeds are represented. Prices for the kits range from about $70 to $200.
Within a few weeks, you’ll receive the results—a breakdown of breed ancestry by percentage—via an email containing a PDF attachment or a link to a website portal. Knowing your dog’s breed doesn’t just satisfy a pet parent’s curiosity, it offers useful information that can help you develop a wellness and preventative care plan. For example, if a canine herding dog is in your pooch’s mix, you’ll probably want to provide extra exercise to keep him stimulated and motivated. If his heritage includes one of the short-nose breeds like Frenchies or Boston Terriers, who are prone to overheating, avoiding long walks in hot weather and investing in a doggie pool are good ideas.
Learning more about the breeds that comprise your dog’s DNA is fun and often surprising. Fetching estimated alumnus Dexter to be a Lab/shepherd mix, but his adopter Donna J shared that his DNA results showed he is a mix of 16 breeds—including one-quarter Great Pyrenees—but absolutely no Labrador Retriever: “We know this (mix) is what makes him the silly lovable guy he is!” Similarly, Crystal Blue is a combination of 8 breeds, none of them suspected by mom Anna C. And Nancy C learned that Bear, who appears to be a black German shepherd, actually has more husky than shepherd genes.
So many of us discover that our canines are descended from mixes of mixes that Embark has given the “breed” a name: Supermutts. Regardless of the results of DNA testing, the clues it provides about your fur baby’s inherited behavior can help strengthen your bond with each other.
Writen by: Michele G