What is a Dog DNA test? Are they accurate? Are they worth it? Find out our experience and results.
Back in October I went into Petsmart on a Saturday. The first rule of Mom Club is "Don't go into Petsmart on a Saturday (especially with kids)", unless you are ready to bring home a friend. This is the day that all of the adoption centers have their animals front and center. For someone with a soft heart like me, it is also the day that I brought home a brand new family member.
Stitch was marked a "hound mix" puppy. He was about 4 months old at the time. This little guy stood out because he was asleep...like a rock...in the middle of Petsmart. My kids climbed in with him and he didn't move. This guy was a champ. After a little while I knew I didn't stand a chance and he came home.
Stitch's paperwork was clear that he was the "runt". He had been bottle fed and was working hard at gaining weight. This was not a problem once he was home. This "hound mix" is now 1 year old and close to 100 lbs.
We noticed that Stitch is obsessed with playing fetch, has a tendency to scare easily, likes to steal left shoes, and works VERY hard at not biting EVERYTHING. (Ok, we are working at teaching him.) Curiosity got the best of us and we had to know who Stitch really was.
What Is a Dog DNA Test?
Just like with humans, there are several companies offering Dog DNA tests. These tests unlock the secrets in your dogs DNA to tell you what breed, any health issues, etc.
While I am no Doggie DNA expert I did do a little bit of research. I wasn't going to spend my money on a test that didn't seem to be accurate or trust worthy. After reading many reviews and a ton of info I decided to go with the Embark Dog DNA Test.
Embark offers two versions of their test. One is strictly for determining breed. The other unlocks health information as well. If you choose to go with only the breed you can upgrade later without retesting.
Current Pricing (July 2020)
We got our kit in the mail a couple days after I ordered it. I read the directions and read some tips online.
The rules are
- Wash your hands
- Swab your dogs cheek before they eat/drink/lick anything (preferably first thing in the morning)
- Swab for 15 - 30 seconds inside cheek.
- Place back in tube.
- Seal & Send.
Seems easy enough. Of course getting a dog not to lick you and say "hi" first thing in the morning is a little tough, but we did it. Sealed up the kit and mailed it off back to Embark.
Patience is not my strong suit. We kept checking back in because it said you could have your results in as early as 2 weeks. Well, I think quarantine has everyone finding new ways to entertain themselves because they had a higher wait time. We waited roughly 4 weeks.
Each week we received an email from Embark with a little tidbit of info, and letting us know that our DNA was being processed and what step it was in. It helps break up the wait and lets you know that they are still working.
Well today was the day. The results are in. Our "hound mix" has no hound at all. Stitch is a Pitt Bull/Retriever mix; mostly. He does have Chow Chow, Rottweiller, German Shepherd, and even some Weimaraner in the mix. I will have to admit the Weimaraner surprised us, but we can totally see it in his size and the way he runs.
We also got a family tree so we can see exactly how each of these breeds makes up our dog.
Another fun perk is seeing DNA relatives. I would have never have guessed that we would have found one of Stitch's siblings! TOO COOL! They also give you an option to message the other dog owners and connect if you choose to. We are waiting to hear back from Luna's family.
Some people question the accuracy of these tests. I can't speak for everyone but I feel like our results were very accurate. Stitch shows traits from each breed that came back in his test. The retriever is very apparent! We did not upload a photo or any personal information prior to having his result so it didn't skew the choices.
We love Stitch regardless, but it is nice to know what breeds he is to help train him and understand where his traits come from. I personally feel that this Embark Test was totally worth it and a great way to get to know our dog better.