Dog DNA Test: How Canine Genetic Testing Can Improve & Extend Your dog’s life? (we asked a vet)

dog dna test
Let’s face it: domestic dogs are products of human interference within an ongoing and evolving process. While we may never know the exact reason why these noble souls allowed us to domesticate them, I’m eternally grateful for this event.
First looked into genetic testing of these adorable pups when I read a recent study indicating that many humans can’t accurately identify a dog breed on appearance alone which has a huge impact on their welfare.
From a veterinary standpoint, I’m always interested in maximizing my patient’s health and welfare to which end, I reasoned that DNA testing may help. How many times has someone taken home a “mutt” promised to stay tiny and suitable for living in a small apartment only to discover that their pup is double the size expected?!
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Dog DNA Explained
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines purebred dogs as those who are members of a recognized breed or kind without any outside “blood” over numerous generations. Mutts on the other hand, are any combination of multiple breeds which often produces the most adorable fur-babies with the biggest brown eyes that can melt even the most hardened of hearts.
DNA also known as Deoxyribonucleic Acid is the genetic material passed down from parent to offspring. DNA is composed of Nucleotides which group together into base pairs that form genes and ultimately make up the Genome; The genetic Code that makes you who you are and your pup a much better “person” than we can ever hope to become.
The Canine Genome is made up of approximately 3 BILLION of these base pairs, but almost 99.9% of this is similar between individual dogs. In fact, a lot of this genome is made up of “junk” or “nonsense” DNA that doesn’t appear to produce genes with any meaningful function. Investigations into the dog genome have identified areas on the genome that code for disease propensity and also the variability between individual dogs.
Research in Cornell University determined a greater degree of genetic variation among so-called “village” dogs than among purebred dogs which is unsurprising in my opinion.
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Canine DNA tests examine certain areas on the genome that have been shown to have the highest amount of variability between dogs.
While dogs have only been more intensively bred since Victorian times, these dogs were bred for particular physical traits and appearances.
Since the canine genome was first sequenced we’ve discovered that many genes for appearance also encode for some diseases or even resistance to them.
For example, Duck Tolling Retrievers are descended from ancestors that survived two outbreaks of canine distemper (a nasty disease), but because of their highly reactive immune systems this breed are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases – a double edged sword.
These tests can thus give us an indication of what breeds make up our perfect little “mutts” and also may give indications of propensity toward certain illnesses.
One example is the many cancers that sadly, claim many of our fur-babies; the test may be able to provide you and your veterinarian with information BUT you must remember that just because your pup has a gene linked to a certain cancer or other disease doesn’t mean that your pup will develop it; but it can help us to actively eliminate some other risk factors from your pup’s life.
These may include avoiding certain foods, medications or including supplements in their diet to maximize their ability to fend of some diseases.
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Statistics

There are over 700 confirmed heritable diseases in our fur-friends. A recent study found that within 8 breeds where breeders made conscious decisions about breeding from DNA results for heritable diseases, there was a reduction in these diseases of over 90%.
These results may be an indicator of how we can use these tests to maximize the health and welfare of our canine companions.
Over 120 pure breeds have at least one such DNA test available.
One important reminder about these tests are that there are other very important factors when selecting potential mates for your pet including temperament, conformation, health status etc..
Another recent study found that approximately 5% of shelter dogs tested were actually not mixed breeds but had only a single breed heritage which may help shelters and potential paw-rents to find their perfect pup.
Astonishingly, the canine DNA testing company “Embark” recently revealed that 0.4% of their tested samples had non-domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) heritage.
The most common heritages found were wolf (Canis lupus) and coyote (Canis latrans) which perhaps hints that not all of our domestic pooches are as far removed from their historical ancestors than we thought.

Health Conditions

Health Conditions
One of the more important reasons to consider DNA testing from a professional standpoint is determining the risk of your pup developing certain genetic diseases, especially if your pet doesn’t look at all like any of the breed’s that went into making that adorable derp face!

Discovering a gene related to certain diseases doesn’t mean your pup will develop the disease but we can try and reduce the risks.

Consider the disease Hyperuricosuria (HUU) which is often seen in Dalmations and some other breeds; this leads to increased amounts of urate crystals and stones forming within the kidneys and bladder.

These crystals are irritating to the body and increase the risks of urinary tract infections and even life-threatening blockages.

If we know that your pup has a propensity for this disease you can manage the risk through lifestyle and dietary management.

As a veterinarian, prior to these tests becoming more popular, I always advised establishing a baseline of organ function in my patient’s before we commenced any major medical interventions in order to be fully able to interpret subsequent tests.
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Medication Sensitivities

dog dna testing - Medication Sensitivities
Certain breeds can have mutations in certain genes that can increase their risk of adverse reactions to certain medications commonly used.

One example of this is the MDR1 gene which codes for multi-drug resistance; generally, herding breeds are at increased risk of nasty, even fatal reactions to some medications such as Ivermectin (commonly used anti-parasitic treatment) or Vincristine (a chemotherapeutic agent used for cancer patients).

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Dog DNA test for Mixed Breeds

dog dna test mixed breeds
Determining your pet’s breed mix can be a tricky maze. I’ve experienced people bringing their beautiful black and white, short-haired puppy with a long snout and proudly declaring that the little furball of zoomies is a collie-mix despite the parent’s not appearing to have an ounce of collie blood in their system.
One such pup had a painless saliva DNA test performed (under the wriggly annoyance of the little tyke) which revealed he was actually a mixture of Retriever, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Malamute!! That was a jaw-dropping moment!
A shelter study found that up to 95% of their cuddly canines looking for their forever homes have multiple breeds within their heritage.
Testing these pup’s DNA to determine their parentage may help these shelter’s and prospective fur-parents to select the best home for each one.
Some people reading this may wonder, “Why would I care about what breeds make up my fur-baby; I love them all the same?!”.

Some authorities or housing management require proof of your dog’s breed heritage for the purposes of eliminating certain breeds from the area or building such has happened in New York City in 2015.

dog dna testing - breed mix
This commonly requires that each dog has less than 50% of a “banned” breed within it’s heritage. These “banned breeds” vary from small dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers all the way through to larger breeds such as Pit Bulls or Great Danes; and the reasoning behind this as varied as the breeds themselves.

If you’re considering moving with a dog, make sure you know if your new home will require such a certified test.

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Dog Breed DNA Test

dog dna test types
Dogs have been selectively bred by humans for thousands of years, initially for a specific function such as hunting and guarding but as humans evolved more sophisticated cultures these criteria were changed to suit local circumstances and requirements. The American Kennel Club (AKC) defines a dog breed as one that “breeds true”. Essentially this means that if two dogs of the same breed produce offspring, those pups should be instantly recognizable as that specific breed. Following on from this, each breed has a specific “breed standard” which sets out the ideal physical traits and temperament for dogs within that breed.
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dog breed dna test
In 2004, the canine genome was sequenced in the hope that we could improve our understanding of the complex evolution that occurs to determine the genome and help identify genetic contributions to health.
Part of how this worked was that dogs are often more inbred than humans, which can simplify the identification of disease related genetic mutations.
This degree of inbreeding helps with determining what breeds make up your pup; most purebred dogs were developed from a small number of “foundation dogs” thus producing large swathes of similar genes within their offspring’s DNA.
These areas can be used by laboratories and compared to known breeds to determine what breed heritages play a part in making up your canine side-kick.
As these tests become more available and with the advent of so-called “designer breeds” which are usually a particular mix of two or three dog breeds, some Breed Societies and Kennel Clubs may require DNA breed tests proving your pet is the breed registered for breeding purposes.
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What does dog DNA testing reveal?

Size

dog dna test - size
Here’s another area that DNA testing can help with; ascertaining your pet’s adult size. Some test companies will average the component breed sizes that genetically make up your new fur-baby but others will assess the 17-plus genes that are known to impact size, which is arguably more accurate.

The obvious caveat to this is that it can’t be 100% accurate; remember genetic tests indicate potential but not necessarily the reality of your pup’s life.

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Breeding risks

Breeding risks
DNA testing can also give us information about the potential genetic diseases that a dog may pass onto their offspring. Choriodal hypoplasia is a common eye disease that can lead to retinal detachment and blindness in collie breeds.
If your pet is a carrier of such a disease, then you may choose to not breed from them, in fact some Kennel Clubs may require that you neuter the pet to prevent passing on such diseases
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Traits

traits
Is your pup destined to be the agility champion of the world? Are you destined to spend the rest of your life coated in a smattering of dog hair? These are also genetically determined to a degree, so DNA testing can give us even more information about your pet’s potential!

Dog DNA tests help with obedience training

Your pup is a product of both their genes AND environment so traits like personality, obedience etc. are not solely influenced by genetics. Having said that, learning about your pooch’s breed heritage can make suggestions regarding their behavior and how to harness their energy to reduce chaos.

Terriers tend to be energetic with a high prey drive and can be quite stubborn while collies are energetic with a strong need for social interaction and are quick to learn, getting bored easily. Discovering what breeds make up your fur-baby can help you to direct their training appropriately, but don’t forget all pup’s are individuals.
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Dog DNA testing and Human Disease

Dog DNA testing and Human Disease
Dogs and humans are more similar than we ever thought! When the National Human Genome Research Institute launched their Dog Genome Project, the focus was to locate genes involved in canine cancer and also physical traits of our modern canine side-kicks.
Many of the diseases that affect our best buddies can also affect us humans, which has provided insight into human health.
Not only that, but the same or similar genes are responsible for some of these diseases which can significantly contribute to the understanding of both human and canine genetic diseases.

The NHGRI Dog Genome Project has a primary focus on the genetics of health in domestic dogs, particularly identifying genes that may be involved in cancer and over 350 other inherited diseases. This research in turn, may actually help further our understanding of human diseases so it’s a win-win situation!

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Dog Poop DNA Testing

Dog Poop DNA Testing
Poop testing for DNA is possible and actually relatively easily carried out albeit quite expensive. Some local authorities use DNA testing of abandoned dog poop to track down irresponsible dog owners.
These pilot schemes have been rolled out in both the UK and USA as up to 40% of pup-parents don’t pick up after their pets’ have done their business.
Aside from being stinky and unsightly; dog poop can present a health hazard to the general public and other animals in these areas.
The DNA is extracted from cells that are shed from your pup everytime they poop. This allows for the fining of these naughty owners. The main drawback to this scheme is that these pet owners need to register their pup’s DNA with the authorities database.
One company in the UK offers some incentives to pet owners including permitting the DNA to be used if a pooch is lost or stolen.
Though uncommon, microchips can be removed from these pets while their DNA can never be changed.
These companies also hope that this resource may be used to track down dogs involved in attacks on other animals and humans and to assist in prosecution of illegal puppy farms.
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How do Dog DNA Tests Work?
So what exactly happens to find out these amazing results?! This is a 6-step process which sounds a lot less complicated than it actually is.

Step 1: Collect the Sample

Samples are usually cheek swabs or blood samples.

Step 2: Bursting the cell

Once the laboratory receives your sample, the first step is to break open all the cells in the sample in order to expose the genetic material (DNA) within. There are a number of ways this can be done including using enzymes to break the cell walls.

Step 3: Separating the DNA

Once the cells have been lysed (broken apart) there is a lot of debris and other cell contents which could damage the DNA so a purification process is undertaken. This essentially removes all contaminant materials leaving a pure sample of DNA (which is an incredibly small amount) to test, but not quite yet.

Step 4: Copying the DNA

The amount of DNA contained within samples is so small, the lab will then essentially photocopy it using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology. This is a rapid method to produce millions of DNA copies for testing.

Step 5: Testing

The DNA is now “searched” for specific genetic markers that identify the risks of developing certain diseases or that are related to breed etc..

Step 6: Matching

Technically, this is part of step 5, but this is where the magic happens; these genetic marker areas are now compared to other markers from known breeds, diseases and traits etc.
A lot goes on while you wait impatiently by your email account to find out exactly what makes up your perfect pooch!
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How long does it take to receive Dog DNA results?

The UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory aims to have results returned to clients within 5-10 working days while others may take 2-4 weeks for results to be reported.
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Getting Your Dog's DNA Sample

Dog Saliva DNA Test

Dog Saliva DNA Test
You can do the test at home with your pet completely relaxed in their normal environment. You will receive a sterile brush swab or card to collect the cells. The tricky bit is getting it into your pups mouth and collecting the cells over 30 seconds without them trying to chew it all up leaving you with nothing. Once you have the sample you replace it in the packaging provided and send it off to the lab.
Some risks with these home tests are the possible contamination of the sample or not managing to collect large enough sample to undergo the extraction and testing processes.

Dog Blood DNA Test

Dog Blood DNA Test
These tests can be slightly more expensive with the added cost of a veterinary consultation. Your veterinarian will have to take a blood sample from your pup, a relatively quick and minor procedure to send to the lab.
The perks of this sampling are that the risks of contamination and inadequate sample sizes are almost completely eliminated.

The Cost of Dog DNA Testing

The Cost of Dog DNA Testing

The price will vary depending on what company and tests are selected but tests start from around $60 to over $200. Some other factors that will play a role when you’re choosing which test are:

  • How big is that laboratory’s Database for your selected test?
  • What type of sample will be required?
  • How long will it take to receive the results?
  • How will the results be interpreted and reported to you?
Definitely do some research on exactly what information you want and chat with your veterinarian for their recommendations.

The Risks

dog dna test - the risks
These tests open a door to a vast amount of information about our pup’s genetic potential but should we be concerned?
Finding out your dog’s breed heritage may lead you to learning about what diseases they may be prone to which can be a significant source of anxiety. The internet is full of horror stories about pets put to sleep unnecessarily through incorrect or inaccurately reported results; though there have been heartwarming stories of lives saved too.
You know best about how much you can cope with, but you should consider the possible negative impact of such a test.
As mentioned earlier where some housing districts have “banned breeds” or some areas have ownership restrictions on certain breeds. Testing your pet and finding out that they have over 50% of such a breed’s genetic markers may place you in a difficult situation.
You may need to relocate or may be restricted from moving into some areas with your pup and it could even impact your home insurance premiums.
Mistakes can be made, human error mixing up samples, poor sample quality etc. can lead to inaccurate reporting of results. Care must always be taken when making any lifestyle or health decisions based on these results. Speak with your veterinarian and follow their advice.
Some further tests for diseases can be unpleasant and invasive for your pup while being completely unnecessary in some situations and your veterinarian will give you and your pooch the best personalized advice. Remember your pup’s not just their test results!

Dog DNA Registration

Dog DNA Registration
Registration of your pup’s DNA is not a legal requirement for people at the moment.

The AKC have a DNA registration program in place to primarily verify parentage or the genetic identity of a pup; these test’s do not identify breed. Registration is compulsory for some stud dogs and imported breeding dogs but pet owners are urged to have their pet’s DNA added even if breeding is not planned.

Some property management companies require their residents have their pet’s DNA registered for a number of reasons. These include targeting owners of un-scooped poop and also to protect property and encourage resident’s compliance with local rules.

This protects both responsible paw-rents and landlords who may be fined for pollution by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Tips To Pick the Best DNA Test for your dog
There is so much variability between laboratories regarding the information compared for each test means that interpretation can be very different with different companies.
We’ve compiled some important points to think about when researching the test that best suits your pup’s requirements.
  • How many genetic markers does the test use for comparison?
  • What scientific research have they used to support their tests and results?
  • Are the company a Genetic Test Provider (GTP) participating in the Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs?

Suitability of the Test

When selecting a test, know what you’re hoping to find out about your fur-iend. Is it just what breeds mashed-up to create your pooch or do you want to know their genetic propensity for barking?
One study actually determined that one of the available commercially patented DNA tests for hip dysplasia in dogs is actually unsuitable.
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Interpretation of results

Without going into too much science jargon, some of these markers give simple yes/no answers while others are indicators of a dog’s carrier status or probabilities of developing certain diseases.
If your pet has a gene for a specific disease this does NOT mean that your pup will develop that disease; in fact these tests are designed for making prudent breeding choices rather than life choices about your pet.
Your veterinarian will be able to help you maneuver through these sometimes emotional reports and make informed decisions.

Dog DNA Test Accuracy

Dog DNA Test Accuracy
Not all DNA tests are created equal, one company states that they compare your pet’s sample with over 200,000 genetic markers while others may compare just 2000 genetic markers, or even less which would explain the wide differences in accuracy, and even contradictions between test results.
There’s no doubt that since dog DNA tests were first commercialized in 2007 their accuracy has significantly improved as advances in the results interpretation and database sizes have developed.
Contradictory to this however is the lack of regulation within the dog DNA testing market! Technically, companies can operate without quality control or appropriate research to support their results.
In order to prevent inaccurate and unethical testing practices while maximizing our canine side-kicks’ health and welfare, The International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD) developed the initiative for Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGDT).

The goal of HGDT is to improve standardization and robusticity of these tests.

Accuracy of these dog DNA tests can also depend on human error and the size of that breed’s genetic database within the company performing the test.
The number of genetic markers examined will also impact on a test’s accuracy. Some inference using genetic markers similar to those of other breeds may be formed if the database doesn’t contain an exact match for your pup’s gene.

One way to ensure an accurate test is to check the DogWellNet (IPFD) laboratory search function provided by the IPFD.

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DogWellNet: Guidance on genetic testing in dogs

DogWellNet is a publicly available resource from the International Partnership For Dogs (IPFD) to provide information about dog breeds and genetic testing to maximize canine health and welfare.
The IPFD is a not-for-profit organization and DogWellNet has been designed to build a “community feel” to share information and open dialogue between members around important topics relating to canine health.
The site even includes a searchable database for genetic testing laboratories and counselling resources, found here. Even better: membership is free!
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Understanding your dog’s DNA test results requires a little knowledge of the science of genetics.
These test results can help with making informed and responsible breeding decisions. Each dog will inherit DNA from both it’s dam and sire; one copy of each gene from each parent.
If the status of the dam and sire is known then probability predictions can be calculated for the resulting puppies health.

This can improve genetic diversity and thus reduce the incidence of certain heritable diseases within a population. There are two types of heritable conditions that we will discuss here:

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1. Autosomal-dominant Conditions

Dogs affected by a dominant disease need only receive a single abnormal copy of a gene. Each dog has one of three statuses for this disease – clear; heterozygous affected; homozygous affected.

Clear

This dog has no abnormal copies of the gene in question and can only pass on a normal copy to its puppies. Breeding this dog with another clear dog will produce clear offspring but if bred with a heterozygous dog some puppies may be affected. Breeding with a homozygous affected dog will only produce affected puppies.

Heterozygous Affected

These dogs have one abnormal copy and one normal copy of the causative gene and could pass on either copy to their puppies. Breeding this dog with a clear or other heterozygous affected dog may produce affected puppies. Breeding such a dog with a homozygous affected dog will only produce affected puppies.

Homozygous Affected

These dogs have two abnormal copies of the gene and will only pass on an abnormal copy to any offspring. These dogs shouldn’t be bred if possible as they will only produce affected puppies through the one abnormal gene they will pass on.
dog dna testing - Homozygous Affected

2. Autosomal-recessive Conditions

Dogs affected by a recessive disorder must have received two abnormal copies of the responsible gene; one from each parent. A dog can have one of three statuses for a disease – clear; carrier; affected.

Clear

A clear dog is one that has no abnormal copies of the gene involved in causing the specific trait. These dog’s can only pass on a normal copy of the gene and can be used in any mating programme without producing any affected puppies.

Carrier

A carrier has one normal and one abnormal copy of the gene and will not be clinically affected by the disease. Carriers can pass on one normal copy OR one abnormal copy of the gene and should only be mated with clear status dogs. If a carrier dog is mated with another carrier then some puppies may develop the disease.

Affected

An affected dog has clinical signs of the disease and carries two abnormal copies of the causative gene. These dogs can only pass on abnormal copies of the gene and should only ever be mated with a clear status dog (if safe to do so); if mated with a carrier or another affected dog then the health of the offspring is at risk, compromising their welfare.

DNA linkage Tests

DNA linkage Tests
Another method of testing for a disease is using DNA linkage; this is usually performed when a specific gene is not known to cause the disease, but the region on the dog’s chromosome that is associated may be known.
Genes that lie close to each other on a chromosome are often inherited together so if scientists look for genes in the region and identify these genetic markers then some degree of confidence we may know the genetic status of the dog.
Not as accurate as direct gene tests, the results of these need to be interpreted carefully.
Reading and interpreting your pooch’s DNA test results can be daunting; each company providing the tests reports their results in different ways so there’s no one sure fire way to understand all the possible results.
Most companies will provide some graphs and tables with the results of the tests (Breed, trait, certain disease) and often a small paragraph explaining these results. We strongly recommend that you discuss the results with your veterinarian, particularly if you have any concerns over your pup’s health.

Remember! Just because your best friend has a certain disease-related gene doesn’t mean they will develop the disease. Never make a life-changing decision based on genetic results!

Veterinary Programs offering Canine Genetic Tests
Some universities offer genetic testing for dogs, primarily related to health status rather than breed heritage. These laboratories tend to be genetics research focused with an underlying mission to improve canine health and welfare through responsible breeding and improving our understanding of the genetics of diseases.
The list below is not exhaustive, but includes some respected laboratories and veterinary programs.

UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory

Based under the auspices of UC Davis in California, USA, this laboratory provides the following genetics services:
  • Parentage
  • Traits including coat color
  • Health conditions including breed specific disorders
All their tests can currently be performed on cheek cell samples which can be done by you, the owner at home with your pup in their normal, relaxed environment. This laboratory provides tests for some of the more common breed specific conditions such as Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE) and Narcolepsy in Labrador Retrievers.
The website found here, is clear, easy to navigate with clear pricing and instructions about the testing procedures. Once the samples are received, the lab endeavors to return results within 10 working days.
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NC State Veterinary Hospital DNA testing

This laboratory is part of North Carolina State’s Small Animal Hospital providing genetic tests relating to health conditions in both cats and dogs. Swabs for sampling can be requested from their website here, with a strong focus on cardiac disease screening; There is even a free genetic counselling service available for clients.
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WSU Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory

Washington State University’s laboratory specializes in testing for multi-drug sensitivity in dogs. As mentioned before, many breeds (particularly herding dogs) are more likely to have adverse drug reactions which are genetically determined. Blood or swabs are accepted for testing and the website is a fantastic resource on the genetic propensity of certain breeds to have sensitivities to certain medications. Also, this laboratory is part of the HGTD initiative.
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OFA – The Canine Health Information Centre

Coupled with the University of Missouri and UC Davis, the OFA acts as a medium between owners and the laboratory to certify genetic health results. Samples are easily taken using cheek swabs or even blood samples (considered the gold standard sample) Their website provides a comprehensive list of genetic tests available including those for dilated cardiomyopathy and Fanconi syndrome. Client’s can also opt in to the development of their canine DNA respository for future research to help improve the health and welfare of humans’ best friends.

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What do Vets think of DNA Testing
Dog DNA testing has some major positive aspects for both animal and human health;
however, the lack of regulation within the industry at this point is a major concern. One end of the spectrum is the fun to know and helpful breed and trait tests that shouldn’t have a huge impact on yours or your fur-baby’s life; except in those instances regarding banned breeds in certain areas or housing districts.
There are hundreds of tests to choose from across the world of varying accuracies, so individual research for what test will suit your needs is important.
The larger area of caution is within the genetics of disease. Some diseases such as the recessive bleeding disorder, von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) have a simple genetic component; other diseases such as hypothyroidism which results from autoimmune thyroiditis develop from a compounding of both genes and environmental factors for which these tests cannot account.
The combination of poor regulation in genetic testing with the complexity of interpretation for these tests leaves a large room for error which may negatively impact the lives of pups and their fur-parents.
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Final Thoughts

dog dna test - final thoughts
Science is advancing, at a pace faster than ever before and we are learning more and more about the inner workings of our best fur-iends. The developing field of dog DNA testing has exploded in popularity since the first commercial test was launched in 2007. While regulation of this industry still needs to catch up with the scientific breakthrough, there are still benefits to reap for pet owners.
Dog DNA tests can be used to determine if your gorgeous black “Lab-mix” is actually just that, and if they are, exactly what went into the “mix”. In fact, many of these “Lab and Collie mix” pets have neither Labrador nor Collie heritage in their parentage. Your pup’s stubbornness may be explained by some Jack Russell genes which may also explain all those holes dug in your garden.
These DNA tests can also be used to make responsible breeding decisions to improve the overall health of specific breeds. Healthier pets means longer and happier lives with our beloved fur-babies!
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