dog dna testingIf you are the proud owner of a rescue mutt, you have almost certainly wondered at their lineage. Does that dark tongue make her part Chow Chow? Is his curly fur a result of some poodle in the mix? He looks like a cross between a boxer and a Chihuahua, but is that even possible?

Finally, there’s a way to settle the intense debate once and for all with at-home dog DNA testing. These easy to use kits enable dog owners to assuage their curiosity about their dog’s lineage, to tailor breed-specific training, and to be on the lookout for certain inherited conditions.

A New Era

In 2005, an international research team led by Harvard and MIT scientists announced the publication of the entire canine genome. Mapping the dog genome was an important step in understanding more about human DNA, allowing researchers to study and compare dog genes with those of humans and other closely related organisms. It also gave rise to the now widely available do-it-yourself dog DNA testing kit.

How Dog DNA Testing Works

Most dog DNA test kits require you to swab the inside of your pet’s cheek with the swab or brush provided and mail the sample back to the company, where the DNA is extracted and analyzed. Your dog’s DNA is then compared to that of other dogs in the company’s database.

The accuracy of the results depends on:

  • Number of genetic markers used (where your dog’s DNA differs from others in the database)
  • Number of breeds included in the selection panel
  • Sophistication of the algorithms used to generate the results

The more breeds included in a company’s database will generally produce more accurate results (and a more expensive test).

Knowing Your Breed

Finding out which breeds contribute to your dog’s unique look and personality is certainly fun, but it can also be beneficial when it comes to health and lifestyle considerations, such as:

  • Knowing your pet’s lineage can help you and your dog’s health care team to be on the lookout for the inherited health conditions associated with certain breeds
  • Finding out your puppy’s heritage can help you plan for certain eventualities, such as his or her adult size, potential energy level, and other personality quirks
  • Understanding the specific personality challenges and exercise requirements of the breeds that make up your dog can give you a leg up when it comes to training and socialization

Are you ready to take the plunge into dog DNA testing? Let the staff at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services know! We’ll be happy to give you recommendations and go over the results of your best pal’s test with you.