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How to Check Your Dog's DNA

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. April 10, 2018
How to Check Your Dog's DNA

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Dogs are considered one of the most genetically diverse species on the planet. The never-ending list of dog breed types and subtypes might seem frustrating to a dog owner who wants to identify the breeds making up their dog. However, the recent advent in dog DNA testing makes such identification possible. Dog owners can now learn more about their mongrel’s different breeds with the help of a Dog Breed DNA test. Keep reading AnimalWised if you want to know more about how to check your dog's DNA.

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Pug, Chow Chow, Boxer or Mastiff? What breed is your dog?

Dogs come in different shapes, colours and sizes, not to mention personalities. Yet some people still try to guess their dog’s breed based on look and behaviour alone. Whether adopted from a dog sanctuary, a friend or the streets, the origins of mixed-breed dogs can remain a mystery. Selective breeding has been practised since prehistory and continues today. This results in dogs being the only mammal with such a wide variation in size, appearance and behaviour.

Have you ever wondered why your puppy has such large paws or long ears? Perhaps one of their parents is a Great Dane or Basset Hound. Who knows, it could even be as common as a Labrador. Many owners of mixed-breed dogs still don’t know how to answer when strangers ask them, “Hey, what breed is it?”.

Five categories

Dog breeds are usually categorised by their function. Although the list of breed types and subtypes is never-ending, most dogs tend to fit into the five main categories of companion dogs, hunting dogs, herding dogs, working dogs and guard dogs. But which function or type does your dog best fit?

For those intrigued by this question, ponder no more as the answer may simply be in your dog’s genes. With the recent advent of dog DNA testing, it is now possible to accurately establish your canine’s background.

How to Check Your Dog's DNA - Five categories

What are the requirements for a dog breed DNA test?

Getting to know your dog’s full breed composition is now possible with dog breed identification DNA testing. All that is required is a mouth swab sample of the canine in order to establish from which breeds they inherited their DNA. The dog owner needs to gently rub the swabs against their dog’s inner cheek. The rubbing procedure takes less than a minute and is completely painless.

Once the dog’s DNA samples are received in the laboratory, scientists compare them against the DNA of popular dog breeds to assess the strength of the DNA match. These types of laboratories normally have access to vast databases which contain DNA profiles of the main dog breeds.

Choosing a company that has a reputable name for performing dog DNA testing is making the right choice. The more breeds a company has in its database, the more accurate your test results will be. It is recommended you pick carefully where to send your dog’s information since not all companies offer tests that are equally accurate.

The test results typically involve a breakdown of the key breeds detected and their historical background, appearance and behaviour. The dog breeds that form the largest percentage of the dog’s DNA are usually indicated as the ‘primary breeds’ or ‘Level 1/2 breeds’. The dog in question will carry physical and behavioural traits from these breeds. Those breeds which form a smaller part of their DNA would be indicated as the ‘secondary breeds’ or ‘Level 3/4 breeds’. The remaining breeds with the smallest percentage are usually indicated as ‘tertiary breeds’ or ‘Level 5 breeds’. It is important to note that these tiers are not standard across different dog breed DNA tests.

How to Check Your Dog's DNA - What are the requirements for a dog breed DNA test?

So, to get tested or not get tested?

Like anything else, there are pros and cons of taking this type of test. The following is a list of dog-related topics one may wish to consider:

  • Curiosity: if you are so curious about your mongrel’s background, why not go ahead and eliminate your doubts with a dog DNA test?
  • Health: by discovering your dog’s full breed composition, you will get a better understanding of the health risks associated with their breeds. Taking preventive steps against certain diseases will help you ensure the well-being of your pooch.
  • Legalities: the breeding or possession of certain dog breeds is considered illegal in some countries since these breeds have a reputation of being dangerously out of control. Breeds such as the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro are all banned in the UK. To establish whether a dog has certain genes in their family tree, one may want to opt for a dog DNA test.
  • Accuracy: a dog breed DNA test is able to test for major breeds. However, if your mongrel comes from a background of several breeds then it will be more difficult to determine the exact nature of the primary breeds. This may leave you speculating about your dog as much as before. Therefore the more pure breed dogs present in your dog’s ancestry the more accurate will be the test results.

What about pricing?

Overall prices for most dog DNA testing services are relatively cheap starting from as little as $70 to $100 for testing factors such as breed and allergy. When one takes into account how much information can be gained from such tests, the price appears to be very reasonable.

Dog DNA testing in general

DNA testing for dogs might still be in its early days. However, the most advanced technology around is already providing astoundingly accurate results. Mixed-breed dogs can be either complex or simple, but one of the best known ways to learn more about your pooch is through dog breed DNA testing.

How to Check Your Dog's DNA - Dog DNA testing in general

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