Best dog DNA test: Top-Rated Brands and Comparisons

You’re sure to have heard of the DNA test, but are probably still not sure of what exactly it’s all about, and how it works. While it’s generally spoken of or used in the context of confirming paternity, a DNA test is actually much more, with benefits extending beyond paternity verification. So much so that you’ll now find DNA tests available even for animals, including your pet dog. 

In cases of DNA testing for pets, verification of paternity is hardly ever the reason for getting a DNA test done. Instead, it is the health and other benefits attached to such testing that is sought after. Fortunately, you don’t need to go to a canine clinic to get this test done on your pet. You can simply go online to search for the best dog DNA test that you can do on your own. And the results of such a test will leave you more than amazed.

To get you started, let's go through each DNA kit, one by one:

Product Reviews: The Top 4 Dog DNA Test

The popularity of the Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 2.5 Breed Identification DNA test kit suggests this is one of the best dog DNA tests available. It’s said to be a simple test that you may find useful in figuring out the mysteries of your pet canine’s behavior, appearance and health requirements, including prevention of reactions to certain drugs, exercise regime and suitable choices in diet and nutrition.

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Things We Liked

  • Provides direct testing for multi drug sensitivity (MDR1 gene)
  • Helps in adult weight range prediction
  • Test encompasses 321+ markers, considering all the pedigree trees possible in the last 3 generations
  • Covers 250+ breeds, types and varieties, including all those recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC)
  • Official Ancestry Report provided by company
  • Easy testing procedure, with kit including DNA cheek swabs, drying insert for swabs and pre-paid return shipping box

Things We Didn't Like

  • Accuracy is low for dogs descended from highly mixed breeds
  • Kit doesn’t clearly mention requirement of different tests for different breeds
  • Report is somewhat sketchy and not very detailed

Another simple DNA testing kit for use at home, the DNA MY Dog kit is a good choice to consider if you’re looking for a detailed report specifying all breeds found in your pet’s DNA by percentage. Apart from at-home use, this test is believed to be quite useful at animal shelters and veterinary offices. It provides information about the general health issues and personality traits about all the breeds found in your pet’s genetic profile.

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Things We Liked

  • Includes canine breed analysis certificate and breed determination report
  • Uses the simple cheek swab DNA method
  • Easy, painless testing method, requiring less than a minute
  • Report in less than two weeks
  • Database of 84 breeds

Things We Didn't Like

  • Several complaints of inaccurate test results
  • Database is quite limited
  • Report is vague and ambiguous

If you’re interested in checking your mixed breed dog’s ancestry back to its great-grandparents, the Wisdom Panel 2.0 Breed Identification DNA test kit may suit your needs. 

It works through a simple method to help you discover the genetic traits that are responsible for your dog’s behavior, appearance, and health-related requirements.

You can use it to plan your pet’s nutrition and diet also, using the adult weight range prediction provided in the report. This also helps in planning your dog’s training program. Or you may simply like to do it for fun and to satiate your curiosity.

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Things We Liked

  • Method is the simple cheek swab type
  • Provides breed certification and genetic diversity level for pure-bred dog
  • Gives certification for designer dog
  • Mapped to 321 markers used in the test
  • Safe to use at any stage of your dog’s development

Things We Didn't Like

  • Questions raised about the accuracy of the test
  • Can be difficult to handle alone

Conclusion: Which DNA Test for Dogs To Pick?

Whether to satisfy your curiosity or out of need, a dog DNA test can be a useful thing to do. If done properly, following the simple method provided with the kit, such testing can easily be managed at home, without necessitating the extra cost involved in taking your pet to a veterinary clinic.

All kits for dog DNA testing come with some basic features that allow ease of use. However, if you’re looking for a kit that’s more reliable than the rest in ensuring the best dog DNA test, the Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 2.5 Breed Identification DNA Test Kit does seem to be more popular than the other models reviewed her.

The main factor that gives the Mars Veterinary an edge is the accuracy level the test report is said to come with. Unlike the other tests, this one appears to have fewer complaints of inaccuracy, and complaints it does receive seem to be limited to dogs coming from highly mixed breeds, which, understandably, can be tough to figure out. Not only does this test provide clues to your pet dog’s genetic makeup, thus facilitating an understanding of its appearance, behavior and health/exercise needs, but it also gives information on multi drug sensitivity. The database of 250+ breeds also enhances the reliability of this test. It does look like a kit worth trying out.

Buying Guide: What to Consider Before Buying a DNA Test for Dogs

What is a dog DNA test?

The principle and the process of a dog DNA test are the same as a DNA test for human beings. Both are used to identify the unique DNA code sequence in the subject, and both are quite simple to conduct. The dog DNA test works by checking your dog’s DNA sample against a database of breed-related genetic markers. Naturally then, the wider the database the better your chances of ascertaining the mix of breeds that go into making the ancestry of your dog. And that, again, is the same principle that operates in human DNA testing.

General benefits of dog DNA test

The need for getting a DNA test done on your dog stems from the benefits it entails, although some people do it out of simple curiosity. So if you’re wondering why your dog is the way it is, a DNA test can help resolve the mystery. Once you’ve got the test done, you could be better equipped to understand the nuances and idiosyncrasies of your dog’s behavior and personality, so next time you find him unwilling to act a certain way, you’ll have a little more understanding of his resistance.

DNA testing also makes your choice of a dog as a pet much easier. Armed with the knowledge of your dog’s breed composition, you’ll know whether it’ll fit into your lifestyle or not. Or alternatively, whether you can adjust yourself to its lifestyle or not! Another advantage is that a DNA test can help you ascertain the nature of your pet’s litter and find suitable homes for them. A DNA test will tell you a whole lot of things you, and the prospective owner should know about the puppy.

Health benefits of dog DNA test

Dog DNA tests are emerging as a useful tool in learning about the health issues pertaining to your pet. So, apart from giving you a clue into what kind of an animal your pet dog will grow up to be (in terms of height, physical experience and so forth), these tests are a good way of finding out about their exercise needs and health issues. As far as exercise goes, though individual needs may differ, broadly speaking, certain breeds of dogs are known to require more exercise than others.Thus, you can keep your pet suitably exercised, depending on its specific requirements.

DNA tests also give a fair idea of the kind of health problems your dog might face in the future. Of course, the findings in this context may not be 100% matched to your pet’s genetic makeup (again, individual health features may differ), but the premise culled out from a DNA test is found to be correct to a large extent. You can use this knowledge to be better prepared to handle your dog’s health problems, and perhaps even to take precautionary measures in some cases.

Should you do dog DNA testing at home?

While it’s not at all difficult to handle the testing procedure at home, the accuracy of the same may be suspect. Also, the companies managing the database of genetic profiles of dogs also have their own error margins, considering the limitation of the database. Having said that, DNA testing of your dog at home is usually more convenient than going to a clinic. Whether done at home or at the clinic, a dog DNA test can yield useful information that you can use to take better care of your pet. In any case, with most mixed-breed dogs in developed countries belonging to certain specific ancestries the chances of the test throwing up incorrect results are not significant.

Things to be considered

If you’ve decided to go for DNA testing of your pet dog at home, here are a few things you should keep in mind before picking out the best dog DNA test. The first step is to understand the process; this usually involves waiting for some period after your pet has eaten and then swabbing the inside of its cheek with the swabs provided in the kit. Then pack the swabs with the saliva samples in a small container, also provided in the kit, and send the container to the lab at the earliest. The report usually comes in about three weeks. There’s also the option of a blood DNA test type also, but those are a little more complex in terms of procedure and hence not usually done at home.

In choosing your kit, it’s a good idea to bear in mind the costs of the various alternatives available online. The cost is usually quite high but varies depending on the brand and testing method you’ve chosen and with the cheaper kits, the reliability may be questionable. The type of test (swab or blood), the expanse of the database, the turnaround time, the reliability/accuracy factor – all these are things you may like to take into account before choosing a specific DNA test for your pet.