How much does a dog DNA test cost?
The recent boom in the DNA testing industry has spread to our furry friends. Self-professed dog ‘parents’ are investing in finding more about the genes that make up their furry friends, and there are a number of reasons why you might want a DNA test for your pup. But with the sheer number of providers out there catering specifically to pets, it can be difficult choosing the right one. How do you know you’re not paying too much? The short answer is that dog DNA tests start from less than £100. However, the long answer is that there are a few factors to take on board when it comes to understanding the difference in price between tests.
Why do you need a dog DNA test?
In the same way that you might want a DNA test for yourself, you may want to find out similar information about your dog. Getting a dog DNA test can get to the bottom of any concerns you might have about your beloved pooch, including their breed, susceptibility to certain illnesses, and even (in some cases) their personality traits.
The type of DNA sample you need for the test also affects the price. Some providers require a cheek swab to complete the test, whereas others require a blood sample. You’ll have to visit a veterinarian for the latter, meaning you’ll need to factor in travel costs and the vet’s fees too.
The results you want also affects the price of the dog DNA test. For example, Easy DNA offers a dog breed test for £58, while a paternity and ancestry test from the same provider can cost between £129 and £199, depending on whether you’re testing both parents or just one. So, if you do want a dog DNA test, it’s important to think about what you’d like to find out.
Find out the true breed of your dog
Many people find it easy to name dog breeds just by looking. But when it goes beyond the obvious breeds, like a dalmatian, it can start getting confusing, and even more so if your pet is a mixed breed. These dogs—sometimes known as a mutt—differ from crossbreeds, which are intentionally bred to create a designer breed. These breeds include cockapoos (cocker spaniels and poodles) and Labradoodle (labradors and poodles).
Mixed breed dogs can be a blend of any number of different breeds, and in some cases, there are no known purebred ancestors. This means that the dog is likely to feature various characteristics from a number of different breeds, making it difficult to identify a dog’s breed purely by its appearance. If you just want some peace of mind about the breed of your dog, or if you’ve adopted from a shelter, getting a mixed breed DNA test could answer any questions you may have.
Even if you think you know what breed your dog is, or at least the breeds of their parents, a DNA ancestry test for dogs can still be worthwhile. Puppies randomly inherit 50% of the genes from each parent, so each pup in a litter can have completely different breed compositions. Even if your dog looks like a specific breed or mix, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right. A dog DNA test will confirm your pup’s ancestral line and give you a better understanding of how best to care for them.
International Biosciences offers a dog breed DNA test for £58, which analyses the DNA to identify any breeds present in your pet. This also highlights the genetic heritage as well as any unique traits. If you want to discover whether your dog has specifically wolf, fox, or coyote ancestors, DNA My Dog offers this exact test for a slightly more expensive cost of £68.90.
Discover if your dog is prone to diseases
In the same way that humans can inherit diseases and illnesses, like cystic fibrosis or Marfan, dogs can suffer from hereditary diseases too. Breeds like corgis and dachshunds are more likely to suffer from intervertebral disc problems in their spines, so if you have a mixed breed dog with one of these breeds, they could suffer from spinal problems later in life. Breeds like German shepherds, rottweilers, and Bulldogs are predisposed to suffering from hip dysplasia, which can require costly surgery.
A dog DNA test can help to determine the chances of your pooch suffering from any of these hereditary illnesses. By tracking the ancestry, you will be able to see if there are any breeds mixed in which may cause issues for your pet down the line. There are specific tests available to check the genetic makeup of your dog, allowing you to assess whether they’re likely to develop any neurological or physical conditions. If you do find that your dog has a high chance of developing any illnesses, you can take the necessary precautions to either prevent it from happening or lessen the negative effects. This could include something as simple as not letting your pup jump down from furniture if they’re predisposed to developing spinal issues later in life.
Affinity DNA offer inherited disease testing for dogs, with one test analysing the likelihood of developing an inherited neurological condition and another test to determine whether they are likely to develop Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC). These tests also check to see if your dog is a carrier of the genes and the likelihood they’ll pass these diseases on. Both cost £49 each.
Understand your dog’s traits
Just like humans inherit traits from their parents, puppies inherit their looks from parents. Things like coat length, coat curl, and coat colour can all be tested and help you understand what traits of your dog are genetic. A coat can change slightly as a dog matures from puppy to adult, and having the DNA tested can minimise any risks of a surprise.
The nature vs nurture debate is perhaps most common when discussing dog behaviour—especially with dogs that may be a little violent. The truth is that temperament, personality, and behaviour are all hereditary, but the way your dog has been raised can also have a big impact on its behaviour. Heritability coefficient is the term given to measure how much variation you see in a certain trait and how much it can be attributed to genetic variation, and can be used to figure out how much of your pet’s personality is genetic.
Studies have found that your dog’s temperament is split 40/60 between genetics and environment. So even if they are predisposed to being scared or nervous around other dogs, the way they’re raised will have a bigger impact on their social skills. If you know the way the parent behaves, you’ll be able to mould the way you train your puppy. Easy DNA offers a test that analyses the genes to identify the unique traits in your puppy and costs £58.
Profile your dog to produce a unique ID
Being able to identify your dog is crucial, as you’ll you want to be able to prove ownership should it run away or be stolen. You may even want to prove their parentage or pedigree, so using the DNA to create a specific permanent ID you can easily draw upon is ideal for this. DNA profiling is also helpful to check whether a DNA sample used for testing does, in fact, apply to the dog being tested, helping to avoid any confusion.
The standard for dog profiling consists of STR (short tandem repeats) markers, which is used in molecular biology to compare specific loci on DNA from genetic samples. The DNA profile for a dog is made up of two alleles per marker—one inherited from the mother, and one from the father. The order of these STR markers is unique to each dog, so forms the unique ID.
DNA profiling may be the ultimate form of ID for your pooch, as it’s a ‘tamper-proof’ method of proving identity, in the same way that humans have a fingerprint. DNA Diagnostics Centre offers Canine DNA Profiling for just £29.09 and uses 16 markers for accurate identification for your dog.
DNA testing for your dog is affordable for specific tests. However, this cost can quickly add up if you want to test everything for your dog. Testing provider Embark, however, offers a dog DNA test that screens for over 165 health conditions, tests the breeding information, and offers accurate breed identification for £137.04. Completing one test for multiple results is much more affordable, and studies the DNA from a cheek swab, eliminating the need to pay for a blood sample.