How Accurate Are Dog DNA Tests?
For dog owners, the opportunity to read and understand your dog's DNA can offer a number of valuable benefits for you and your dog. First and foremost, it can tell you about your dog's background and their medical history, including potential conditions they may be more prone to developing, or even genetic disorders that require treatment either now or in the future.
In some cases, DNA testing can even support your dog's case to be registered as a pure-breed. But as a relatively new product, many dog owners have questions about DNA testing kits covering everything from how they work and how much they cost to how reliable the results are for these tests.
With that in mind, here are some answers to your most pressing dog DNA test kit questions.
How Do Dog DNA Tests Work?
Most dog DNA tests kits require you to swab your dog's mouth for saliva, which contains DNA that can be analyzed in a lab. These saliva samples are then placed into a tube and mailed to the testing company's laboratory for analysis. Some DNA test kit providers use dog poop DNA testing and have you send in a sample of feces for testing.
Once you've mailed off your test kit, all you have to do is wait for the lab to contact you with the results. The depth of these results and the specific services provided will vary from one dog breed DNA test kit provider to another. Some will email you with the results, while others may contact you by phone and even offer consultation with a geneticist to answer any questions you may have.
How Accurate Are Dog DNA Tests?
While many dog DNA test kit manufactuers claim that their tests are 90 percent accurate or higher, some veterinarians and genetic experts aren't ready to stamp these kits with a seal of accuracy. This is in large part due to the lack of peer-reviewed research regarding the processes used by these test kits.
Although anecdotal evidence suggests that many dog owners believe the DNA kits are generally accurate—citing the kit's accuracy in identifying information that dog owners can confirm, such as hair color and, in some cases, breed—there isn't verifiable third-party data to corroborate this information. This doesn't necessarily mean that DNA test kits for your dog are a waste of money, or that they're likely to provide wrong information, but dog owners should take results with a grain of salt and be aware that even in the
best-case scenario, these tests do have the potential to be wrong.
How Much is a Dog DNA Test?
Most dog DNA tests range in cost between $60 and $150 or more. Higher-priced options typically offer more counseling and support for understanding the genetic testing results.
Keep in mind that, given the lack of peer-reviewed research regarding these testing kits, a higher price won't necessarily guarantee more accurate testing results.
Can You Register a Dog With a DNA Test?
While it's possible that DNA testing can help get your dog officially registered as a pure-breed with the American Kennel Club, the process for this registration is strict and not guaranteed. To be eligible for registration, you will need to purchase an AKC-approved DNA test kit through the AKC.
In addition, DNA tests are not authoritative on their own. DNA profiling will be used in conjunction with parentage of the dog, if known, to determine whether a dog is eligible for breed registration. In some cases, the AKC may award a "conditional" registration due to uncertainty regarding the dog's breed status. You can contact the AKC directly for more guidance on this
What is the Best Dog DNA Test Kit?
Due to the lack of verifiable data regarding the DNA kits specifically offered to dog owners, it's impossible to determine which type of test is best in terms of its accuracy.
What dog owners might value most is the support various tests offer in understanding results and the implications for their dog's health. For this reason, two tests that might rise above the pack are the Embark Breed + Health DNA Test, and the Wisdom Panel 3.0 Canine DNA Test. Both of these tests offer additional counseling to help you understand the results of your test, and to ask questions from a trained professional. These tests and test counseling can also help you understand what DNA tests reveal about your dog's health.
While dog kit DNA testing may be an imperfect—and unknown—science, it's very possible that a test can help you learn valuable information about your dog, and improve your ability to give your dog the support, care, and medical attention they need to live a long, happy life.