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September 23 – 28 is National Dog Week and to celebrate, I decided to share our dogs' recent dog DNA results. Today, we’re going to focus on Scout, the family comedian.
What is a Dog DNA Test?
Dogs are our family, our children, so it's no surprise that those of us who vow to adopt and not shop are curious about the breed makeup of the mutts we bring home. My favorite part of learning my dogs' lineage is seeing evidence of breed traits in my dogs. For instance, some breeds are known for their herding drive and seeing that drive mirrored in one of my dogs is exciting.
There are many dog DNA tests on the market, and they generally provide pet parents with a tool to take a cheek swab that is sealed in a package and mailed to a lab. A few weeks later, you'll receive the results.
Why Would Someone Invest in a Dog DNA Test?
Everyone that I see posting about their dog's DNA test results initially invested in the test out of curiosity. But that's not the only reason to have your dog's DNA tested. A few other reasons include:
- Proving that your dog is or isn't a breed (or breed mix). In some areas of the country, having a bully breed or wolfdog hybrid is going to cost you, and a DNA test may serve as a way to protect your dog.
- Confirming that the breeder was honest. If you purchased a puppy from a breeder that you suspect wasn't being 100% honest about their dogs' lineage, a DNA test could confirm if you have a purebred dog or a mixed breed.
- Does your dog have a drug sensitivity? There are some breeds that have a hard time with anesthesia, which is something a veterinarian needs to know before surgery or other procedures. Some dog DNA tests will let you know if your dog has an MDR1 sensitivity while others will give you a list of potential health issues your dog may develop.
- Figuring out how big your dog will get. Scout and Zoey's parents weighed 35 and 45 pounds; Scout weighs 77 pounds, Zoey weighs 67 pounds. Rodrigo and Sydney are also bigger than their mom.
Are Dog DNA Tests Accurate?
In my research, I've found that there are mixed opinions on the accuracy of dog DNA tests. I tend to agree to disagree because I treat these tests as a fun project. However, if we're paying for something that claims to deliver accurate results, we should get what we pay for – right?
I read that the more data (genetic information) a company has, the more accurate and expensive the dog DNA test. This is why we see tests that range from $60 to $200, the tests that cost the less have less to offer, or so some believe. I've also been told that we should go with a company that has data on most, if not all, of the breeds recognized by the AKC. These tests may not be the most expensive, but they will be the most accurate.
When I was shopping for a dog DNA test, I went for a test that made sense for my budget and my goal to satisfy my curiosity – were the first tests accurate? As you read the results for each of my dogs, you can come to your conclusion on whether or not dog DNA tests are accurate.
- AGE: Almost 5 years old
- WEIGHT: 67 pounds
- QUIRKS: Very vocal, sleeps on a queen sized bed by herself, loves to play games, and an expert hunter.
What We Thought Zoey's Breed Mix Was
- Australian Shepherd / Blue Heeler / Catahoula Leopard Dog Mix
We met Scout and Zoey's parents. We were told that their mom was a Blue Heeler / Catahoula mix and their father looked like Rodrigo, but he was a pure breed Australian Shepherd and not a Border Collie.
First Dog DNA Test by International Biosciences
In 2016, I received four Dog DNA tests to review from International Biosciences. I was excited to learn what Zoey's breed was and what other breed mixes were in our home. We were stunned by the results.
Zoey's test results came back as:
- 71% Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
- 20% Border Collie
- 9% Border Terrier
Unlike with our other dogs, I thought these results were spot on! 1 in 4 is good, right?
Second Dog DNA Test by Wisdom Panel
Zoey's test results came back as:
- 25.0% Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)*
- 12.5% Australian Shepherd*
- 12.5% Collie*
- 50.0% of the following breed groups (Sporting, Herding, Guard, Companion)
The (*) are the breeds Zoey has in common with Scout.
These were the only results that I didn't question. This made absolute sense to me. And because Scout and Zoey are littermates, I want to share his results from both sets of DNA tests again…
- 35% Australian Shepherd
- 35% Chinese Shar-Pei
- 15% American Eskimo Dog
- 15% Border Collie
Scout's Wisdom Panel results were:
- 12.5% American Staffordshire Terrier
- 12.5% Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
- 12.5% Australian Shepherd
- 12.5% Collie
- 12.5% German Shorthaired Pointer
- 12.5% Labrador Retriever
- 12.5% Siberian Husky
- 12.5% of the following breed groups (Herding, Sporting, Companion, Terrier)
Why I Chose Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Tests
I chose the Wisdom Panel dog DNA tests because they were less expensive than Embark and because a friend who uses Wisdom Panel regularly recommended the tests. So did my veterinarian. And, I've also used Wisdom Panel in the past with great results, so trying them again was a no-brainer for me. Wisdom Panel’s dog DNA tests cover 99% of the AKC recognized breeds, so I figured they would be able to dive deep into my dogs’ breed history.
Do I believe my dog’s DNA results?
To be honest, I don’t know. Given my lack of knowledge about DNA, it's hilarious to admit that I can argue that this is correct and I can poke holes in the results as well. Zoey tested negative for a multidrug sensitivity (MDR1); this was a helpful piece of information that I didn't receive from the first set of DNA test results. The rest of the information Wisdom Panel provided was for entertainment purposes only, and I've been entertained. I feel satisfied that my hunch that the first test wasn’t correct was spot on.
The best part of the Wisdom Panel dog DNA test, as compared to the service I reviewed in 2016, is the detailed report I received that included breed descriptions and a family tree (image above).
Now that I've shared the DNA results for all of my dogs, what do you think?. Are Dog DNA Tests accurate or are they a lark?