We all know the saying, “Dogs are a man’s best friend,” but how much do you really know about your furry companion? For a mixed-breed dog, you might not know all the parts of your dog’s makeup.
You probably know all about their favorite treats, toys, and cozy spots for a snuggle. You’ll likely have a general idea of their breed or breed mix. And if you’ve done your homework, you will know how their breed can influence their behavior and personality.
But have you ever wanted to go beyond just the basics?
Thanks to dog DNA tests, you can learn just about everything you ever wanted to know about your pup – down to each chromosome. Some of the best dog DNA tests can tell you things like your dog’s level of genetic diversity, gene-specific health risks, and ancestral origins. You can even see an exact breakdown of their breed mix (sometimes down to as low as 1%, depending on the test).
These insights are invaluable regarding training, family integration, and planning for your dog’s future medical needs, whether your pup is a purebred from a breeder or a mixed breed from a shelter.
Best Dog DNA Tests To Show A Dog’s Genetic Makeup
- Best Overall Accurate Dog DNA Tests: Wisdom Panel Premium
- Best Dog DNA Kits for Breeders: Embark Dog DNA Test Kits
- Best Dog DNA Kit for Mixed Breeds: Koko Genetics Starter DNA Test for Dogs
- Fastest DNA Results: DNA My Dog Premium Breed Identification Test
How Does A Dog DNA Test Work?
In terms of process, most of the best dog DNA test providers follow similar steps. The first step is registering your test kit with the dog DNA test provider (typically done online). Then, submit a sample of your dog’s DNA. Most tests require a saliva sample. Your test kit will provide all the supplies needed to collect this sample. Follow the instructions carefully to reduce the risk of contamination, as this may cause your results to be inaccurate.
Once your dog’s DNA sample has been collected, it can then be sent to the laboratory for testing. A geneticist analyzes the DNA sample, determines your dog’s unique genotype, and compares it to their database containing millions of DNA samples from other pets. This is how they develop insights into your dog’s breed, physical traits, genetic diversity, and more. When your final results are ready (which can take several weeks), they’ll email you instructions for downloading your full report. They’ll also share some information on interpreting your results, which is handy for mixed-breed dogs.
Best Dog DNA Tests
1. Best Overall Dog DNA Kits: Wisdom Panel Premium
How it works
The Wisdom Panel premium testing process involves using a simple swab to take two DNA samples inside your dog’s cheek. Once the samples have been taken, they must be set out to dry for at least five minutes. Next, the DNA test must be activated by following the instructions in the test kit.
Once the Wisdom Panel premium test kit has been activated, the swabs can be reinserted into their protective sleeves and placed back into the box. Seal the box and use the prepaid envelope to send it to the laboratory for testing.
When your results are ready, you will receive an email notification from Wisdom Panel. The typical turnaround time is two to three weeks. Your results will include a range of insights about their breed, ancestry, relatives, health risks, genetics, and traits. The level of detail in your report will depend on the type of test purchased.
Here is a list of what’s included in a Wisdom Panel premium dog DNA test kit:
- Test swabs with protective sleeves
- Box with a prepaid mailer
- Dog DNA test results (available online)
- Free vet consultation available for pets with ‘at risk’ health findings (only included with Wisdom Panel Premium kit)
About Wisdom Panel
Wisdom Panel was founded in 2007 and is a division of Wisdom Health. Initially, Wisdom Panel’s pet DNA test kits were only available for veterinarians. However, the Wisdom Panel brand launched its first DNA test kit for everyday pet owners two years later in 2009.
According to the Wisdom Panel website, their dog DNA test kits are based on over 20+ years of research and data from over four million dogs. Their labs are also ISO-certified – meaning all DNA samples are handled by geneticists using human-grade equipment.
In addition to DNA testing for dogs, Wisdom Panel also offers DNA testing for cats.
- Screen for over 365+ dog breeds
- Test for over 260+ genetic conditions
- 4 million+ samples studied
- Free vet consultation available for ‘at risk’ health findings (Premium kit only)
- No specialist test available specifically for purebred dogs
2. Best for Breeders: Embark Dog DNA Test Kits
How it works
The testing process for Embark dog DNA tests begins with a swab of the inside of your pet’s cheek and underneath their tongue. Make sure to swab for at least 30-60 seconds.
Once you take the sample, place the swab inside the provided collection tube. The collection tube is filled with a liquid that helps to stabilize the DNA sample before processing. Screw the cap on tightly to prevent spillage. Then, gently invert and shake the test tube for at least 10 seconds. This helps to ensure that your pet’s DNA sample is mixed thoroughly with the stabilizing liquid.
Next, activate your Embark dog DNA test kit online (follow the link and instructions in your test kit). You can use the prepaid envelope to send your pet’s sample to the laboratory for testing to determine your dog’s breed mix.
Embark will notify you via email when your results are ready. The typical turnaround time for an Embark dog DNA test is two to four weeks.
Your results include a confirmation of your dog’s breed and/or breed breakdown, ancestry information, and insights into their geographic origin. Adding the health test will give you extra insights into your pet’s health, genetics, and traits. Your dog’s vet may find this useful when screening for a particular disease.
Here is a list of what’s included in an Embark Dog DNA test kit:
- Collection tube
- Sponge swab
- Prepaid envelope
- Dog DNA test results (available online)
Founded in 2015, Embark is a tech startup partnered with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Embark is solely focused on canine DNA testing and research. This commitment has led to multiple science-backed discoveries in canine health and genetics, thanks to Cornell University.
Embark offers a range of DNA testing products for dog owners, breeders, and veterinary practices. This includes tests for breed identification, genetic health, and age. The company also sells several supplements to promote good gut health in dogs.
- Screen for over 350+ breeds
- 250+ genetic health tests
- Soft sponge swab
- The company focuses solely on canines
- Fewer DNA samples in their database than other dog DNA test providers
3. Best for Mixed Breeds: Koko Genetics Starter DNA Test for Dogs
How it works
If you have a purebred dog, you know at least what to expect. But for a mixed breed, the questions keep compiling. To start testing with Koko Genetics, register your pet’s DNA test online by following the instructions in your kit.
Once your test is registered, take a DNA sample by swabbing across your pet’s mouth to the inside of their cheek. Two swabs are provided: one for the left side of your pet’s mouth and one for the right.
Next, place the test swabs inside the tube and repackage the kit according to the instructions. To send, print the prepaid label and attach it to the outside of the shipping bag provided.
You will receive an email notification from Koko Genetics when your results are ready to determine your dog’s breed mix. The typical turnaround time is four to six weeks. Your results will include a breed breakdown, a family tree, and information on your dog’s physical traits. You will also receive access to new features when they become available without submitting another DNA sample.
Here’s what’s included in a Koko Genetics Starter DNA test kit:
- Instruction booklet
- Test swabs
- Tube with preservative liquid
- Shipping bag with a prepaid label
- Dog DNA test results (available online)
About Koko Genetics
Koko Genetics was originally founded by experts at tellmeGen – an already-established human genetic testing company. Its mission is to build upon its experience in human genetic testing to improve the world of animal genetic testing.
A notable detail about Koko Genetics is its ability to screen for over 400 dog breeds – the highest we’ve seen in our research. This is particularly valuable for owners of mixed-breed dogs with potentially more diverse ancestries.
Koko Genetics offers two dog DNA tests: a starter kit featuring breed and trait-related information and an advanced kit with added health information.
- Screen for more breeds (400+)
- Health upgrade available
- Connect with other dogs who share similar DNA
- Updates and new features automatically included without sending additional samples
- Longer wait for results than other brands
4. Fastest Results: DNA My Dog Premium Breed Identification Test
How it works
To start testing with DNA My Dog, register your pet’s test online. The instructions and links for this are provided in your test kit.
Next, take a DNA sample. Remove the swab from its packaging and swab the inner cheek of your dog (making a circular motion) for at least 20 seconds. Once a sample has been taken, allow the swab to dry for at least 20 minutes.
Next, place the dried swab into the sample sleeve, seal it, and put it in the prepaid envelope provided.
You will receive an email notification from DNA My Dog when your results are ready. The typical turnaround time is two weeks. Your results include a complete breed identification breakdown and a separate wolf and coyote DNA analysis in your dog’s family tree. You’ll also receive information on genetic health risks, genetic age, personality traits, and practical tips for building a better bond with your pet.
Here’s what’s included in a DNA My Dog Premium Breed Identification test kit:
- Test swab
- Sample sleeve
- Prepaid envelope
- Dog DNA test results (available online)
About DNA My Dog
DNA My Dog was founded in 2008. The company’s original mission was to help animal shelters and owners of rescue dogs learn more about their pets’ breed makeup and background.
Since its foundation, DNA My Dog has been a leader in canine DNA testing, and the company prides itself on using customer feedback to drive the development of new, unique tests. One notable test is its DNA test for deceased dogs – the first to reach the consumer market.
In addition to DNA tests for deceased dogs, DNA My Dog also offers breed identification and canine allergy tests.
- Bonding tips for training and family integration
- Faster than average delivery times
- Screen for over 350+ dog breeds
- Separate analysis for wolf and coyote DNA
- No family tree or connect with relatives feature
How We Picked The Best Dog DNA Tests
Background and Reputation
When assessing the best dog DNA tests available, one of the first things we looked at was the background and reputation of each test provider. We combed through every provider’s website, “about us” page, and reviews section to gauge each brand’s credibility.
Many pet owners see a dog DNA test as an investment in their pet’s health and well-being, and we wanted to make sure that each test on this list was coming from a trustworthy, experienced company.
Size of DNA Database
We also examined the size of each provider’s dog DNA database. This information wasn’t publicly available for all test providers. However, Wisdom Panel did advertise that it has tested over 4 million pets (including dogs and cats), while Embark advertised that it has tested over 1.5 million dogs.
As more dogs are tested, the reliability of each database improves, making individual test results more accurate.
Types of DNA Tests Available
Another factor we considered was the different types of DNA tests available. We know that there is no one-size-fits-all DNA test for every dog owner, and we wanted to help clarify what you can learn about your dog through DNA testing.
Some tests only screen for breed-specific information, while others can screen for genetic health risks, allergies, predicted weight, and more. In this list, we’ve only chosen test providers that provide a clear list of the exact information you can expect to receive in your dog’s report.
How To Find The Best DNA Test Kit for Your Dog
Estimated Turnaround Time: When Do You Need Your Results?
Double-check the turnaround time when searching for the best dog DNA test for your pup. Some providers can take up to six weeks to process your results, while others only take two to three weeks.
Estimated turnaround time is especially important if you want to have your pup tested before their next vet appointment or training session. If you are a shelter owner, you may wish to use tests with shorter turnaround times to help speed up dog adoptions.
Sample Collection Process: How Sensitive Is Your Dog?
All providers in this list require a saliva sample. However, the type of mouth swab used and the sample collection process can vary. Some providers require two samples (one from the inside of each cheek), while others only need one from under the cheek and tongue.
Most providers use bristle swabs. However, Embark uses a swab with a softer sponge. This type of swab may be more suitable for dogs who tend to be more sensitive around the mouth.
Type of Information Provided: What Do You Want to Know About Your Dog?
What do you want to learn about your dog? Do you just want to determine your dog’s breed or breed mix? Or do you want deeper insights into their genetics and unique health risks?
Breed-only tests tend to be priced lower than health tests. However, the main advantage of a health DNA test is that it includes all the information found in a breed identification test plus added information on health/genetics.Performing a genetic health test early on in your dog’s life, enables you to spot health risks ahead of time and save money on their healthcare in the long run.
Support: Are You Looking for Additional Help With Your Dog?
When offering added support, some dog DNA test providers set themselves apart.
For example, Wisdom Panel offers a free vet consultation for dogs with “at risk” health findings in its Premium kit. DNA My Dog also offers individualized tips to help pet owners cultivate a better bond with their dogs based on breed mix. Some brands offer a feature to share your results with your vet.
If having access to extra advice is important to you, it’s worth taking a closer look at the type of support available when evaluating your options before purchasing.
What DNA Tests Can Tell You About Your Dog
Breed Mix & Ancestry
One of the key things you can learn from a dog DNA test is your dog’s breed breakdown. This is particularly useful for dog owners of rescues and mixed breeds. It’s exciting to learn more about who your dog really is, but it’s also helpful to understand how their breed mix can potentially influence some of their personality traits.
Owners of purebred dogs may also be interested in having a more detailed look into their pup’s breed, as a DNA test can delve much deeper into a pup’s ancestry beyond its pedigree records.
Many DNA test providers will uniquely map your pet’s chromosomes. This map shows how your dog’s breed information is integrated into their DNA. This feature is more for curiosity and helps dog owners visualize their pet’s genetic makeup.
Ideal Weight Range
DNA tests may indicate your dog’s predicted weight range as an adult. This information is particularly useful for owners of puppies who want to know how big their dog will get as it ages. It’s also useful for rescues and shelters, as it can help them more effectively place puppies in homes that are prepared to handle dogs of larger sizes.
Most dog DNA test providers have a feature where you can share your pet’s identity and find other dogs within their family tree. You can then connect with their pet owners, share photos and DNA results, and even arrange to meet for a real-life puppy playdate. If privacy is a priority for you, you can choose not to opt-in to this feature.
Genetic Diversity & Health Risks
DNA tests with an added health screen can provide information on your dog’s genetic health risks, genetic diversity, chromosomes, and carrier status for certain genetic risk factors.
This type of test can help dog breeders reduce the risk of inherited disorders. For dog owners, it can help flag potential health issues that your dog may be at risk of. Early detection is one of the best ways to reduce long-term veterinary care costs for both purebreds and mixed breeds.
Dog DNA tests can tell you everything about your pup’s physical traits, from their undercoat and hidden patterning to their body size, coat texture, and more. This can come in handy for coat care and grooming, and it’s also interesting to see first-hand how your pet’s DNA influences their physical appearance.
Dog breeds not only have distinct physical characteristics, but they also tend to have distinct personality traits. By knowing the breed mix of their pup, dog owners can more effectively bond with their dog, train them, and integrate them into the household. Shelter owners can also use this information to find homes and families well-suited to each dog’s personality and behavioral tendencies.
Are DNA tests safe for my dog?
Yes. Dog DNA tests are perfectly safe for your dog.
Most test providers use a mouth swab for DNA sample collection, which is relatively low-risk. To ensure your pet’s safety, always read and follow the instructions carefully when gathering your dog’s DNA sample.
If your dog is sensitive, reactive, or shows signs of aggression, it may be worth speaking with your veterinarian. They can provide more specific advice and testing tips for your pup – or they may be able to collect the sample for you at your next visit.
How long do dog DNA test results take?
Each test provider has their own estimated turnaround time. Each DNA test provider uses its laboratory; laboratory processes and workloads vary.
On average, turnaround time is around two to three weeks. However, some providers can take up to six weeks to deliver results. Always check the estimated turnaround time before purchasing if you’re on a tight timeframe.
Can purebreds take dog DNA tests?
Yes! In fact, some DNA test providers offer tests specifically designed for purebreds.
Purebred dogs also benefit from a genetic health test. This is due to the lower-than-average genetic diversity of purebreds, which may increase their risk of long-term health problems. By knowing this information, dog owners can prepare for and mitigate long-term health risks.
How many different breeds can dog DNA tests screen for?
The number of breeds that a dog DNA test can screen for will depend on the brand of test purchased. On average, dog DNA tests can screen for around 350 to 400+ different dog breeds.
Can dog DNA tests screen for wolf or coyote DNA?
Yes! Some dog DNA tests can detail your pet’s wolf, coyote, dingo, and “village dog” lineage. If this is an important feature for you, double-check the details of your test kit before purchasing.
How old does my dog need to be for DNA testing?
There are no age limitations for dog DNA testing. However, to ensure the comfort and safety of your puppy, most DNA test providers recommend that your pup is at least two weeks old.
When is the best time of day to take a dog DNA sample?
Most dog DNA tests require a saliva sample, and this sample can be taken at any time of day.
However, most DNA test providers recommend collecting your sample at least two hours after your pet has eaten. This helps to ensure that your sample is not contaminated with food remnants.
More detailed information on sample collection will be provided in your test kit. Always make sure to read the instructions thoroughly before collecting your sample.
What can I do with the information from my dog’s DNA test kit?
You can do quite a lot with the information from your dog’s DNA test!
Breed-specific information can be used for training purposes. For example, if your dog has a protection breed in its breed mix (such as German Shepherd or Great Dane), it indicates that it is highly trainable. However, they may experience problems with aggression and possessiveness. By understanding your dog’s breed/breed mix and ancestry, you are better equipped to encourage certain behaviors and discourage others, as well as gain insight into how to introduce the animal to new people.
Health-related information learned from a dog DNA test helps spot potential health risks early on. This is particularly important for certain breeds that tend to develop specific health issues later in life.
Can a dog DNA test be used to diagnose a health problem?
No. Dog DNA tests cannot provide a clinical diagnosis. However, they can determine if your dog is at an increased risk for certain genetic health conditions. Your vet can then use this information to help plan for your pet’s future health needs.
Find Your Dog’s Lineage With A Dog DNA Kit
Having your dog’s DNA tested has never been easier or more accessible. In just a few short weeks, you can uncover your pet’s unique genetic makeup – empowering you to see exactly how their DNA influences their health, physical traits, behavior, and more.
When finding the best dog DNA test for your situation, we recommend writing down a list of exactly what you want to learn about your pup. Do you just want to uncover your dog’s breed? Do you want to be able to see and connect with their relatives? Once you have a clear list of priorities, you’ll be in a great position to narrow your search and choose the best dog DNA test for your family.