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Scroll through your social media feed, or sit down to dinner with a group of friends, and the topic of genealogical DNA testing will inevitably come up. It’s fascinating to discover more about your ancestry, especially when you’re not sure where your roots lie.
Interestingly enough, dog and cat DNA tests exist as well. In the same sense that it’s exciting to learn about your own lineage, it can be just as exciting to delve into your pet’s genes! And hey, maybe you can finally give a straight, science-backed answer to the question, “What breed is my dog/cat?”
Dog and Cat DNA Tests
The goal of a doggy or kitty DNA test is to help you determine your pet’s breed composite. Not only is this fun information, but it can be very useful. For example, certain breeds have specific medical vulnerabilities, so if you know the primary breed makeup of your canine or feline, you can anticipate and be on the lookout for certain ailments. It also allows you to do more research on your pet’s personality, lifespan, proper weight, etc., which can help to provide more refined care for your pet.
Sounds pretty cool, right? Fortunately, you have many options when it comes to test kits. Amazon, PetSmart, Chewy.com and other pet retailers sell a handful of test kits, including the most popular for canines of Wisdom Panel, Embark and DNA My Dog. For cats, options include Basepaws, Orivet Feline DNA Testing Kit and Neogen GeneSeek Operations Lab.
Accuracy of DNA Testing
While human DNA tests are considered highly accurate, there’s more room for error with pet DNA tests, and some results can even wind up inconclusive. The purer the breed, the more accurate the test. Contrarily, if your pet is a (lovable) mixed bag of breeds, the results have the potential to be less accurate and possibly inconclusive. Be sure to bear this in mind if you plan to embark on this genealogical journey!
- “Both of my dogs are rescue mutts, and I was really curious as to what breeds make them up because they have very distinct personalities. I thought for sure Prudence’s DNA would come back predominately Yorkie, and Chopper would be Schnauzer majority. I was really off the mark,” says Megan O’Brien, the founder of Dogipack. “Both of my dogs are mostly miniature poodle and Chihuahua. Being true mutts, there are some other breeds mixed in there, but those are the two stand outs. I was pretty surprised by the results. I can see it in them now a little bit. I mean, it’s not like they came back as Mastiff and Great Dane. All in all, it’s a fun thing to do and I’ve bought some of The Wisdom Panel Dog DNA kits for gifts for friends that also have rescued shelter dogs.”
- “About six years ago, I decided to spring for a DNA test for my rescue dog, Saffron. It was obvious she was part dachshund, but I was curious about the rest of her genetic makeup. She has a Dachshund’s long body, almond-shaped eyes, and long ears, but she has longer legs than a dachshund and a shorter snout. Because of her white hair and appearance, I thought she was either part Maltese or part West Highland terrier,” says Crystal Zuzek, an Austin-based writer. “The DNA test itself was pretty simple. I received a kit with two large cotton swabs in it. I used them to collect cells from her mouth and mailed them back to the company, which was Happy Dog DNA. A few weeks later I got the results. The Level One (more than 75% of the DNA) result was dachshund. That didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was the Level Two breed result (34% to 74% of my dog’s DNA) of Bichon Frise. She has the curious, friendly, spunky personality and the loud bark of a dachshund combined with the affectionate, attention-seeking qualities of a Bichon Frise. She can even smile like a Bichon!”
- “I wanted to know what my little pup was as soon as we’d adopted her from a rescue in Texas. She was listed as a ‘terrier mix’ – and she looked like a blonde Scottie when we first got her! – but soon enough, we discovered she was growing like a weed and her fur was getting very long around the legs and tail,” says Colleen Williams, Digital Writer at Healthy Paws. “I bought a WisdomPanel kit, swabbed her mouth and after about 6 weeks, we received the results. Our little Luna (who we call “Kitty”) does have some terrier in her – but her most recent genetic lineage is actually Yellow Labrador/Golden Retriever/Dachshund/Corgi! And that’s not all – her ‘ancestors’ were Retrievers that also had Chow Chow and American Staffordshire mixed in. The test gives results for drug sensitivities and weight and height limits, both of which came back normal for my dog, but were helpful to read about. All in all, we were pleased to find out her ‘breed’ was completely a mutt!”