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Which dog DNA tests are best?

Dog DNA tests used to be exclusively performed by veterinarians, which was not only costly but time-consuming. These days anyone can learn about their dog’s genetic makeup using simple at-home swab tests that you send away to be analyzed.

The most basic DNA tests can help you identify your dog’s breed, but many are much more comprehensive. For example, the Embark Dog DNA Test Kit also provides you with information about potential health conditions they may be susceptible to and even what kind of personality traits you can expect them to develop. Armed with this information, you can make lifestyle or training decisions to ensure your dog is as happy and healthy as possible.

What to know before you buy a dog DNA test


Accuracy should be your most important concern when choosing a dog DNA test and there are a couple of factors that influence this. Companies with larger databases will generally provide you with more accurate results since they have more information to analyze. Those with the largest databases have tested millions of dogs and can identify 99% of breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The number of genetic markers tested also plays a role in accuracy. The most comprehensive tests look for more than 200,000 genetic markers, while lesser-quality tests may only look for a fraction of that. 

How to perform the test

Performing a dog DNA test is a simple and painless process but it does require cooperation from your dog. Every test kit should include detailed instructions on how to proceed that need to be followed closely, otherwise you risk not getting a usable sample. The testing process generally includes swabbing your dog’s cheek or inner lip with an included swab, and then placing it inside of a sterile container or bag before sealing it to send away to the lab. Most test kits come with at least two swabs in case you mess up on the first try.

Features to look for in a quality dog DNA test

Health screening

Along with determining a breed, one of the most important things a dog DNA test can do is provide you with information on potential health problems your dog may be susceptible to. This allows you to make changes to their diet and activities that may help prevent these issues from ever developing. Some can also provide you with a list of medications that your dog is sensitive to, so you never accidentally give them something that they may react poorly to.

Trait identification

The trait identification can include both personality and physical traits. These can be very helpful for puppy owners who are wondering how their little furry friend will grow up to look and act. If you own an older dog, it may not be worth spending additional money for a test that includes this since you already know about your dog’s looks and personality.

Ancestry detection

Dog DNA tests with ancestry detection can provide you with some information on other dogs that yours might be related to. These usually have a canine relative finder feature so you connect with owners who have dogs that may be part of your dog’s family tree. 

Turnaround time

The turnaround time varies from test to test, but most take a minimum of two weeks to provide you with results. Some may take up to one month.

How much you can expect to spend on a dog DNA test

Most dog DNA tests cost between $65-$150.

Dog DNA test FAQ

Does the price of the test also include any lab fees?

A. Nearly all dog DNA tests include the cost of lab processing fees as part of the initial purchase.

Can a dog DNA test tell me how large my puppy will get?

A. Some DNA tests that provide physical trait results also provide a somewhat reliable estimation on how large your puppy will grow. If you want this information, make sure to carefully read the test’s details on what kind of physical traits it will provide. Some common ones are body size, coat marking and coat type.

Can I feed my dog before a DNA test?

A. No. Your dog should not have anything to eat or drink for at least one hour before a DNA test that involves a cheek swab. They should also not be allowed to eat or drink from the same bowl as another dog for at least two hours before the test to reduce the chances of cross contamination.

What is the best dog DNA test to buy?

Top dog DNA test

Embark Dog DNA Test Kit

Embark Dog DNA Test Kit

What you need to know: Testing more than 220,000 genetic markers, this is one of the most accurate and comprehensive kits on the market.

What you’ll love: It can identify more than 350 dog breeds and 200 health conditions so you’ll not only know what your dog is, but also what types of medical issues they may be susceptible to.

What you should consider: You need to swab your dog’s cheek for 60 seconds, which can be difficult on rambunctious canines.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.

Top dog DNA test for the money

DNA My Dog Canine Breed Identification Test

DNA My Dog Canine Breed Identification Test

What you need to know: If your main concern is learning your dog’s breed, this simple but reliable test is a good choice.

What you’ll love: It offers basic health and trait screening for a more affordable price than competing tests.

What you should consider: It doesn’t provide any ancestry information or medication sensitivities. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.

Worth checking out

Wisdom Panel Essential Fundamental Dog DNA Test

Wisdom Panel Essential: Fundamental Dog DNA Test

What you need to know: The Wisdom Panel Essential relies on a database of more than 2 million dogs to provide you with highly accurate results.

What you’ll love: In addition to breed, this test can also tell you if your dog has sensitivities to certain medications and what personality traits they are likely to exhibit.

What you should consider: Some dogs find the bristles on the test swab to be irritating.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.

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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.


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