DNA Testing For Dogs (Read This Before Buying a Kit)

DNA testing for dogs has become very popular over the past few years for breed ancestry and identification. Initial pet DNA testing was completed by taking a blood sample at your local vet’s office and submitting the blood to a laboratory for a DNA report. Veterinarians initially were against these tests due to a lack of standards between DNA testing labs and overall industry standards.

Several companies developed a new set of dog DNA test kits that depended on saliva samples taken from the mouth of the dog. With this development of cheek swabs, you could collect your dog’s DNA samples following instructions and mail the sample to the appropriate lab. There are now several companies offering breed DNA tests for dogs using saliva samples.

This is a new industry and very popular with many dog owners. As a result, standards have not been set for testing and interpreting results. The same sample sent to two different labs may deliver slightly different dog genetic test results. Never the less, dog owners are excited about finding out the genetic history of their pets, and potential health-related issues. Also, they get it because of the canine breed detection and pedigree of the dog.

How do DNA testing work for dogs?

Many dog owners are willing to spend more than $150 on DNA testing for their dogs. For many people, dog DNA kits for testing have become a great holiday gift or birthday gift. The amount of genetic testing conducted every year continues to triple as more and more consumers become aware of dog DNA test kits.

The most popular and less expensive DNA tests involve taking a simple cheek swab sample from inside the mouth of your dog. This is a much easier way to test your dog’s DNA. This swab is then sent away to a lab where it is analyzed. Time frames vary, but most reports come back within several weeks providing interesting and helpful information to many dog owners. The breed identification kit contains all of the appropriate instructions for taking the sample and sealing it before mailing it to the lab.

More expensive testing health kits involves taking a blood sample and having this sample analyzed. Most people will involve their veterinarian who can withdraw blood from your dog and package it properly for submission to a lab. Note that most veterinarians will charge a small fee for this service in addition to the cost of having the sample analyzed.

The details provided by the test lab vary a great deal. Also, some dog owners will need to see their vet for assistance in interpreting the testing results. Genetic health screening information can indicate some mixed breeds are more susceptible to various diseases and medical ailments than others. Deciding on further testing of your pet should be done in conjunction with your veterinarian. For more information read this DNA my dog review and guide with lots of details.

How accurate are dog DNA testing kits?

Picture of DNA samplesMany Veterinarians are skeptical of the results that dog owners bring them to review. There does not seem to be a set of standards or a standards body that is regulating this new industry. More and more DNA testing kits are sold and are completed as time passes. These companies are building databases of DNA results that can be compared to a variety of breeds.

DNA companies with 60 or 70 DNA results for various breeds sometimes provide slightly different DNA reports than companies with larger databases. If your dog’s DNA indicates a rare breed, it might be missed if that breed is not in their database. Companies with larger databases generally have more accurate dog breed test results. Veterinarians generally are not specifically trained in how to interpret DNA reports and genetic information.

Dog owners are turning to these companies for help in interpreting the results. For example, if a mutation is detected in the DNA result that suggests a particular dog may suffer from an ailment may not indicate that this particular dog will suffer from this ailment. While a particular dog can carry the gene for the ailment, it does not mean they have the ailment. It has been reported that most dog owners have spent thousands of dollars investigating a DNA report only to find their dog is perfectly healthy. Another owner had their pet put down because of a DNA report.

While DNA reports for dogs can be very interesting and informative, owners may want to ask for a second opinion. Perhaps arrange for a second DNA report from a different company or monitor their pet for whatever condition has been reported, before taking action.

Can dog DNA tests help with obedience training?

It is possible for DNA test results to aid in obedience training. Many people will pick up rescue dogs from the animal shelter. While your new pet has been checked for all sorts of obvious diseases and is reported to be healthy before leaving the shelter, there is little information regarding what mixture of breeds your new pet might be. Many dogs are dropped off at the shelter with no information or are captured and brought to the shelter.

Some are obvious or appear to be obvious. Your dog’s looks might indicate a beagle but seems to have a lot more energy than typical for a beagle. Maybe he is part pit bull or a German shepherd but lacks the physical traits? Some of the best DNA test for pets might indicate a mixture of breeds in your dog. Some dogs respond to training techniques differently from others. By learning what breeds your dog is made up of, dog owners can tailor their training techniques accordingly.

For example, while your dog does not look like a border collie, if 30% of the mix is a border collie, taking advantage of the herding drive instinct might be very useful as you are training him or her.

Can DNA test tell you something related to your dog’s health?

Sweet picture of a healthy dogCompanies offering DNA testing services may offer health testing and screening for various medical conditions. Before you submit your samples, confirm what information you will receive from the company. Make sure that they screen for genetic markers and for medical issues.

Those that do screen for medical or genetic disease look for genetic variants or health DNA markers that are associated with a variety of medical conditions. A gene variant can come from either the father or mother. If there is a mixture of breeds, the gene variant could be an indicator of one breed only.

Even if your pet has a gene variant, it does not always mean that your dog will exhibit symptoms of the associated illness. Gene variants also behave differently in different breeds. Hence if your dog carriers a gene variant for a bull terrier, but is only 15% terrier, it is unlikely your pet will suffer from that particular ailment. Many dog owners turn to their local vet for help to interpret the results and decide what action may need to be considered. The testing companies also are adding staff to assist their customers in understanding the results. Also, this helps in deciding what action should be taken.

Does it take to long to process a dog DNA test?

Test results for DNA testing generally are returned in two to six weeks, depending on the company. Timeframes vary, due to workload, mailing times, and how well the company is organized. Reports suggest that if the company’s website indicates six weeks, you should expect to see your results in six weeks.

Dog owners should allow for one week for your sample to arrive at the laboratory by mail from your home. There may be some processing time and the actual DNA testing phase, which can take another one to three weeks. The preparation of the report adds a few days, and then it is mailed back to the client. Mutation testing may add additional time.

How much do these DNA test can cost on average?

The cost for DNA testing appears to vary between $70 to as much as $200 or more depending on which company is doing the testing and what tests have been requested. Basic breed testing, which indicates what breed types your dog is made up of, costs the least from most companies. Adding disease detection adds to the cost of the analysis. There are options for disease detection only. However, most people want to know what breed their dog is.

Disease detection only indicated that your dog might carry the gene for a disease common to your dog’s breed and the disease. This does not mean that healthy dogs with this gene will ever have the disease or even how severe it may become.

Before selecting a company to complete a DNA test, compare the cost and the reviews left by various customers. Testing companies with the greatest number of breeds in their database can generally provide more details about your dog’s unique mix of breeds. A smaller database may miss markers indicating a unique mix. As a result, companies with large databases may charge more than those with small databases. However, the extra cost could be valuable in identifying a unique mix of DNA variants.


DNA testing for dogs is an exciting new field that many dog owners are taking advantage of. The cost varies between $70 and $200 depending on whether a dog breed identification test is requested or a disease detection report is ordered. Also, companies with a large breed database and disease variants may provide a complete report identifying your dog’s unique mix of breeds. These tests may also assist with ancestry tests used to verify the dog’s lineage.

Interpretation of the breed and health results may be difficult for some people. Many turn to their local veterinarian for assistance to interpret the panel results. The DNA testing firm may also have the staff to help interpret the genetic makeup. It also provides guidance in situations where a particular disease is indicated. Not all dogs with results indicating a predisposition for a particular disease will have the disease.

Discuss your dog’s DNA results with your vet and determine the best course of action based on your dog’s overall health. In addition to canine DNA testing, cats are also being tested.

Last Updated on 17/03/2020 by Karen Snow

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