What is dog DNA testing?
Dog or canine DNA testing is important because hundreds of dog breeds exist and dogs can be a mix of several breeds. Many breeds and mixes can be difficult to distinguish with a physical exam, making it difficult to work out a particular dog’s breed or mix. This is something that’s important to understand when you’re purchasing or have purchased your dog.
The American Kennel Club has identified 184 breeds in total and are finding more all the time. Dogs have been depicted as the most diverse species of animals across the globe, and while there are vast differences between most breeds, some breeds are virtually identical.
Species are defined as a population of individuals that can mate and produce viable offspring, even though those individuals can appear radically different. Diverse breeds of dog can mate with each other and produce viable young, and this because of the DNA that dog’s possess.
Unusually, the appearance of a dog is controlled by only one or two genes, which greatly contrasts human genetics where hundreds of genes delicately control how an individual looks.
Dog DNA testing
Dogs can interbreed because all dog breeds are a part of the same species. This enables the production of “designer breeds”, and cross-breeding which can create entirely new breeds like the labradoodle, a cross between poodles and Labradors. Thankfully, Dog DNA can be collected via a dog DNA test to help categorise the breeds that compose a particular dog.
DNA Testing Choice pet listings provide a listing for every dog DNA test that you can buy online to take at home, and displays the price for each.
Dog DNA and mixed breeds
Scientists are yet to find out precisely why dog breeds of such diversity can inter-breed, however, generations of domestic cross-breeding could be responsible for a part of it. Ever since it was discovered a few hundred years ago that certain traits can be selectively bred, individuals have been breeding dogs that are ideal for important jobs like herding, guarding and hunting.
Any dog that does not belong to a recognised breed can be defined as a mixed-breed dog. There are a number of different ways in which mixed breeds can be produced. For example, two purebred dogs could mate, two mixed-breed dogs could mate, or a mixed breed could mate with a purebred. The popularity of mixed-breed dogs is astronomical in the UK. Research has indicated that 50 percent of the dog population is made up of mixed breeds.
The evolution of canine DNA testing
For centuries, the ancestry of a mixed breed dog could only be figured out through visual evaluation. However, this method is flawed as the majority of breeders typically do not have the same opinion regarding breed designation after evaluating the same dog. For example, while one breeder might conclude the dog is definitely Shiba Inu, the other could be adamant that the same dog is part husky. With both experts having years of experience in dog breeding, it would be difficult to tell which analysis is actually correct through further physical examination.
A study was conducted with a group of breeders who were asked to figure out the breeds inherent in a variety of mixed breeds. It was revealed that less than 50 percent could correctly identify the breeds that a dog DNA test had identified. At the time of the study, dog DNA tests had an 84 percent accuracy rate.
Canine DNA testing is more precise than the visual analyses of professional breeders as dog DNA testing follows a scientific approach. Manufacturers of DNA tests for dogs typically test thousands of dogs and carry out evaluations of millions of genetic markers. Testing many dogs from the same breed over and over again makes it possible to determine the genetic markers that are unique to a particular breed. The percentage of a dog’s DNA that can be accurately attributed to a specific breed can be attained when a dog is tested for these genetic markers.
Is dog DNA testing right for my dog?
If you have a mixed-breed dog and you are curious about its heritage you can go ahead with a dog DNA test. You can purchase a dog DNA testing kit for around £60 and find out the breeds that compose your dog. In comparison to the other costs associated with dog ownership, a dog DNA test is an inexpensive method of getting to know your dog better and satisfying your curiosity.
Knowing the breed of your dog could have some health benefits as well. If you are getting a dog DNA test done, it would be a good idea to find out about the possible diseases your dog could contract because of their breed or mix of breeds. If you discover your dog’s breed is susceptible to a particular condition, it’s also worth noting that they could pass this susceptibility on to their puppies. For instance, Great Danes have a higher than average likelihood of suffering with hip dysplasia, some Dobermans are predisposed to bleeding disorders like haemophilia, and boxers have a propensity to develop cancer.
In addition, herding breeds like collies and shepherds typically carry a flaw in the MDR1 or multi-drug resistance gene, which increases the likelihood of the dog having adverse reactions to some frequently prescribed medications. Where provision of care is concerned, knowing if the dog has a MDR1 gene defect could help to determine the potential for unfavourable reactions.
In cases like these, canine DNA testing could result in catching an ailment before it starts. Being aware of these potential risks and having your vet specifically keeping an eye out for them could save the life of your dog. Ultimately, taking your dog for an annual visit and having a good relationship with your veterinarian is the best method of keeping your dog healthy.
Other features of dog DNA testing
The ultimate size of your puppy can also be determined through dog DNA testing. Some owners of mixed-breed dogs are stunned when their dog turns out bigger or smaller than expected. Based on the breeds in the ancestry of your dog, the final size of your dog could be predicted through a dog DNA test.
Additionally, a dog DNA report could help in predicting certain behavioural issues. Each dog is definitely unique, however, particular breeds will typically have similar behavioural problems. Knowing about these can assist both you and your dog. You will be able train your dog more effectively before a real issue surfaces.
With these features in mind, it’s interesting to point out that curiosity is still the main reason individuals purchase DNA testing for dogs!
Pricing and availability
The price of dog DNA test kits range from £40 to £80. They are available at many pet supply stores and they can be purchased online. The increased price for higher-end brands stems from additional analyses for widespread disease-causing genetic mutations. Some companies also claim to have more dog breeds in their database, which enables them to determine genes from even more obscure breeds.
Pretty much every kit tests DNA through a cheek swab sample. The swab is then placed inside a protective sleeve and sent by the pet owner to the lab of the company from which the kit was purchased. After a few weeks, the pet owner will receive a report through the mail or via email. The report will detail the breed or breed-mix of the dog. There is also a more expensive version of the test which entails blood testing at the veterinary’s office.
Similar to most services, dog DNA tests are not equally created. The more breeds a company has in its database, the greater the probability of accurate results. It is also important to note that the DNA tests from companies with the most dog breeds on their database are typically more costly.
Normally, these DNA tests can identify most canine breeds with remarkable accuracy. However, if a mixed-breed dog has small DNA contributions from multiple breeds, the test may not be able to identify all of the contributing breeds. Dogs with a purebred parent or grandparent typically produce results of higher accuracy.
One of the most popular dog DNA testing companies is Wisdom Panel, they use a set of more than 1,800 markers and DNA samples to assist with their analyses, and have more than 250 breeds on their database! Wisdom Panel is also one of the most highly rated dog DNA testing companies that DNA Testing Choice list, testimonials for their services can be found on our Wisdom Panel review page.
Using canine DNA testing to determine a good dog-dog owner fit
Ensuring you have the proper facilities and personality for a dog you are about to adopt, based on their needs, is a vital part of dog ownership. Even though this is often overlooked, it is essential to creating harmony between dog owners and their fuzzy friends. Similar to mixed-breed dogs, every pet owner is different, having unique lifestyles and personalities. Some dog owners have kids, lead an active lifestyle, travel and go on frequent outdoor adventures. Conversely, there are other dog owners who are more sedentary, only travel occasionally and do not often participate in outdoor activities.
Based on their lifestyle, active dog owners typically prefer a rugged dog that loves sports and can play the role of a guardian. Less active dog owners could go for smaller lap dogs that love to be pampered. Knowing the breed composition of the dog will enable you to figure out the personality and temperament of the dog before it is fully grown.
In addition, some dog breeds need a liberal amount of exercise daily. As such, you will need to have a lot of space in which they can roam or frolic to fulfil their genetic needs. An individual who is older and less active might not be a good match for a Labradoodle. A Schoodle, which is a cross between a Toy Poodle and Mini Schnauzer, could be a better fit.
Another purpose of dog DNA testing is puppy placement. If your dog has a litter of puppies, knowing the mix of breeds you have to offer will make it easier to find pet owners who are willing to give them a home. A canine DNA test will make it possible for you to describe the puppies you will be handing over to new owners. Therefore, the test will assist you in getting your prized puppies into proper homes. Additionally, you will rest easy knowing that the chance of the dogs ending up in a pound or shelter will tremendously decrease.
Animal shelters can also benefit from using DNA testing for dogs. A recently published study has revealed that 50 percent of the dogs classified as pitbulls in Florida shelters are devoid of DNA associated to American Pitbull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers or any other breed typically lumped into the category of pitbull breeds. Conducting DNA testing on shelter dogs will prevent shelters from unnecessarily placing a stigmatised label on dogs, which makes it harder for them to be adopted into families that prefer not to own pitbulls.
Kits for canine DNA testing are ideal for individuals who have adopted a shelter dog and are curious about their genetic makeup. Perhaps you’ll be able to find out whether your dog’s strong swimming talents come from a Labrador Retriever forefather! Or maybe you’ll discover that the bearded face of your furry friend stems for its Airedale ancestry…
In certain areas, there is a widespread problem with unscrupulous dog owners who do not clean up after their dogs whilst they are out for a walk. As such, many individuals have argued that a DNA library should be kept of dogs whose owners or designated walkers do not clean up after them. It was further suggested that repeat offenders should be subjected to higher fines. Currently, there are councils and housing associations that keep genetic samples of the canines within their areas to match to droppings that are left behind by inconsiderate dog owners.