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I've been hearing about Embark Vet breed identification tests for years and a year ago I finally broke down and tested all of my dogs – all five of my dogs. I was resistant to try because this is an investment. Who wants to spend $1,000 (or more) just to satisfy their curiosity about their dog's breed? I certainly didn't. I'm not a rich woman. So I waited until a discount brought the price down to a more reasonable point and I made my purchase.
So, is the Embark Vet Breed Identification Test worth it? Long story short, yes. Hell yes! And in this post, I'm going to explain why you should consider taking advantage of their specials when announced.
What Makes Embark Vet Different?
Embark Vet offers two tests, one will identify a dog's breed or breed mix and their second test includes information about a dog's health. Over the years, I've tested my dogs three times and compared the results from an unknown kit, Wisdom Panel, and Embark Vet to determine which dog DNA kit is the best. I learned that the DNA results I received from Wisdom Pane and Embark Vet were similar, however, because Embark has a larger database (350 breeds vs. 200 breeds), I was provided with a more detail. Also, Embark Vet is constantly adding DNA and health information to their database, providing updated information after the initial results. Plus, the health option that Embark Vet provides makes is a useful feature.
Breed Identification Kit
Embark Vet compares or dogs DNA to a database of 350 breeds to identify what our dog's breed makeup is and what percentage of each breed lives in our dog's DNA. But that's not all. Embark Vet also connects us to a dog's relatives (the ones who also invested in a breed identification test), allowing us to meet siblings, cousins, and distant relatives. Connecting with our dogs' relatives is a cool feature because we can compare notes on personality, behavior, and health history.
Breed + Health Kit
I purchased the Breed + Health Kit for my dogs to learn their breed mix and their health markers. Embark Vet has a database of over 190 health conditions, more than 20 physical traits, plus a database of 350 breeds. The bonus of this kit is that we learn which health markers are in our dogs' DNA – multi-drug sensitivities, exercise-induced collapse, and breed-specific genetic disorders.
Embark Vet Health Kit Results
The DNA results weren't that surprising. Three of our dogs are a mix of a few herding breeds and one of our dogs is 50% Siberian Husky, 50% Golden Retriever.
The health results were more interesting for me. While Embark Vet doesn't predict cancer in our dogs, it does give us a heads up about other health conditions that we can share with our veterinarian with a click of a button.
Our Dogs' Health Results
Rodrigo will be 11 years in a few months. He is at high risk for multi-drug sensitivity, which has been detected in herding breeds. He only has one copy of the gene, which means that he's not as at risk as dogs with two copies of the gene, however, it's important that his veterinarian knows about these results. The MDR1 gene means that the normal dosages of drugs can result in side effects, some severe, like vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or coma. I'm not sure if it's related, he's very sensitive to anti-anxiety medication and a smaller dose than what's prescribed works fine with him.
Other than MDR1, Rodrigo didn't show any issues with genetic (or breed related genetic) health conditions.
Our other dogs' health kit results came up clean. All of the dogs did show anomalies, but these were due to breeding (or poor breeding in our case) and don't mean that our dogs will develop the health condition, but one of their relatives may.
Embark Vet Trait Results
The traits aren't much of a surprise. How could it be when we're the ones who live with our dogs and see them daily? But it was fun going through the results to confirm the traits that aren't common (or seemingly common) in our dogs. For example, Rodrigo is a border collie mix that is on the larger size. I've been told by many people that he's overweight, but that isn't the case. While the breed combination can explain his larger size, it's nice to have it confirmed by science. But that's not all.
Embark Vet dives deep into our dogs' coat color and other traits (like length, texture, and shedding), body features (muzzle, tail, dewclaws, eye color), and performance (food motivation and altitude tolerance, both of which are normal for Rodrigo).
What I learned is that it's normal that my dogs are so big (all of them are larger in size than their parents), that heavy shedding and seasonal shedding is to be expected, and despite having three herding mix dogs, only the Husky/Golden mix is prone to have partially blue eyes.
Not crucial information, but fun.
Embark Vet Relatives
And, finally, Embark connects us to our dogs' relatives. I have yet to meet any siblings, but I have met a cousin and the list of connections is filled with cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. While this is fun, there is a benefit to keeping in touch with siblings and I wish that we had created a social media group for our puppies to keep in touch and keep up with how the other dogs are doing – this has the potential for giving us a heads up on many health conditions, including cancer. While Sydney's hemangiosarcoma was more than likely due to age, if any of her siblings had contracted this type of cancer, I would have gotten a heads up. Due to our experience with Sydney, we've made changes to Rodrigo's diet to increase his chances of surviving a cancer diagnosis.
Embark does not give us access to the health details of other dogs; this is something we have to request from the owner.
Is Embark Vet Worth It?
In my opinion, YES! The Embark Vet Breed Identification and Health test kit is worth the investment. As I stated, it's nice to know our dogs' breed and I love the potential to connect with my dogs' siblings and other relatives; but the health portion was the most useful. While my dogs are healthy, it's nice to have one less thing to worry about and I hope that as science continues, we'll soon see markers for digestive issues, sensitivities, and cancer.
Don't Miss These Holiday 2020 Specials
The following Embark Vet specials extend through Monday, January 4, 2021
- Offer: $50 off an Embark Dog DNA Breed + Health Kit | Reg $199, Sale Price $149
- Code: HOWLDAY50
- Breed ID Offer: $14 off Breed ID Kit | Reg $129, Sale Price $114
- Code: FROSTY14