Pure breed, cross breed, or mix breed. We love our dogs for exactly who they are, but doggy DNA test can tell us what other breeds of dog are inside our furry friends.
It might seem a bit silly to run a genetic test on your dog – after all, they’re not going to care about the results – but ancestry tests can also help you anticipate health concerns, and they’re great if you want to find out what breed is dominant in your adopted dog.
DNA is what makes your dog his unique self, but what is it, and how does it work?
The Kennel Club explains that DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is found in all known living things and acts like a set of biological instructions. These instructions make every breed, species and dog (apart from identical siblings) unique. DNA is found in nearly every single cell in the body, apart from red blood cells, and tells a dog's body how to grow, develop, work and reproduce.
The sum of a dog’s genetic material can be thought of as a cook book which is split into chapters containing recipes. These recipes are the dog's genes and the letters that make up each recipe is its DNA. Just as a recipe can be used to make a dish of food, a gene can be used to make a protein, a building block of a dog's body.
DNA tests allow you to better understand your dog’s genetics. These types of tests can tell you if your dog is likely to be affected by specific conditions or whether they may pass on the genes associated with these conditions if they're bred from.
If you're thinking of breeding from your dog, then knowing more about their genetics can help you reduce the risk of producing puppies affected by inherited conditions. Understanding whether your dog carries a particular disease-causing gene can help you know what to look for in a similarly DNA-tested mate.
You can test your dog’s DNA online. Most DNA tests require you to take a simple mouth swab from inside your dog's mouth (usually from their cheek). Some DNA tests may require a qualified person to take a blood sample from your dog, but these are rare.
Eric Griffith of PCMAG.com reviewed a selection of dog DNA testing kits for 2021 and says: “The typical desire with dog DNA kits is to pinpoint exactly what breeds of dogs are inside your mutt. It's a question that plagues some dog owners/guardians—and one that ultimately isn't that important, to be perfectly honest. A mixed-breed mutt's going to have fewer genetic problems, due to its lack of inbreeding.
He adds: “There's another goal, though, that is discussed less, yet is arguably more important. DNA tests can also check your companion animal for a variety of gene-specific diseases or disorders—in other words, genetic mutations. Your dog could be a carrier of these illnesses, or be at risk of developing the full-blown disorder. DNA tests can rule that out—or expose a disease before it's a problem.”
So, if you’re keen to go down the DNA route, there are plenty of kits on the market that are specially designed for the job.
The results include a page with a snippet of your dog’s unique DNA code. The next section then shows you your dog’s ancestry, followed by a little description of the breeds that make up your dog. The final section, titled “health and traits,” shows you if your dog has the genetic markers for multidrug sensitivity, exercise-induced collapse, and approximates your dog’s weight based on its breeds, and what your dog looks like according to the genetic trait markers.
It certainly has us wondering…