Should I DNA Test my Dog?

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If you happen to follow any pet owners on social media, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen updates detailing someone’s beloved pooch’s DNA makeup. You may find yourself wondering, why does anyone care that Fluffy is 31% Daschund and 42% Beagle and 27% Sporting Group mix? She’s cute and cuddly… isn’t that all matters?

Sure, it’s fun to know where your pup may have inherited his comically large ears, unusual markings, or curled tail, but does this information have any discernible value? Or did these pet owners just throw money away on “fun facts” and social media banter? 

In this article, we’ll discuss the potential benefits of canine genetic testing, as well as everything you need to know to DNA test your dog!

What Can a Canine DNA Test Reveal?

If you have a mixed breed dog there’s no question that you’ve spent time pondering which breeds created the genetic makeup of your perfect pup. While it’s certainly fun to guess at this, have you ever considered the advantages of actually knowing what your dog’s DNA consists of?

Dog DNA tests can reveal more than just your dog’s breed ancestry, they can also test a dog’s risk of hereditary diseases.

Though, even just knowing which breeds are part of your pup’s makeup can help you glean all kinds of useful information. 

Think About It…

Certain dog breeds are predisposed to certain genetic conditions, illnesses or ailments. For example, English Bulldogs are known for being prone to obesity which can lead to additional health complications. 

Knowing that your pup carries a percentage of English Bulldog DNA could help you be wary of your pup’s diet and prevent unnecessary weight gain before it happens. 

Similarly, Weimaraners run a higher risk for gastric torsion than other breeds. Armed with the knowledge that your dog carries Weimaraner DNA, you can be prepared to identify this potentially fatal condition before it’s too late.

In the same way, canine genetic testing can offer insight into your pup’s personality and behavior as well.

Dog DNA tests will reveal which breeds make up your dog as well as which breed groups your dog likely hails from. Dog breed groups consist of dogs that were bred for similar purposes and therefore share many similar characteristics ranging from personality type to physical appearance.

So, if you knew your dog’s DNA consisted of a large percentage of herding group breeds, many of his mannerisms may suddenly make sense. For instance, it’s no wonder why he is determined to herd your children and may feel anxious if the family splits up while on a hike! 

These types of insights help you make sense of your pup’s personality traits and may even make it easier for you to train him. After all, different breeds (or breed groups) have different motivations. 

How Accurate are Dog DNA tests?

While it is tempting to put a ton of faith in canine DNA testing, veterinary professionals caution that DNA tests are not black and white. While they do offer plenty of insights into our pet’s genetics, the DNA testing quality standards still have a long way to go.

Each dog DNA testing company has a different database of genetic information to work with. They will then compare your pet’s DNA against the rest of the DNA in their database to determine his genetic makeup and potential disease markers.

While these tests can trace your dog’s ancestry and even reveal potential genetic markers for hereditary disease, it’s important not to put too much stock in the results. In other words, just because a test reveals your dog has a potential risk of hereditary illness does not mean that he has a hereditary illness. 

The information you obtain from a canine DNA test should not replace the advice of your trusted veterinarian. If your dog happens to show markers for a potential illness be sure to ask for your vet’s advice about what to do. 

How Does Pet DNA Testing Work?

The process of conducting a DNA test for your pet couldn’t be easier. You simply order a dog DNA kit online from a reputable company. When you receive the kit, perform a couple of swabs of your dog’s cheek, then mail them back to the company.

Your dog’s DNA will be analyzed in a lab and within 2 or 3 weeks the results will be uploaded online for you to review – this may vary depending on the company you choose to use. 

How Much Does a Dog DNA Test Cost?

DNA test prices vary from company to company, but generally speaking, you may expect to spend between $60 and $200. Tests that include screening for hereditary illness risks usually fall on the higher end of the price spectrum.

Is it Worth the Investment?

While there is certainly fascinating information to be gleaned from canine genetic testing, it won’t necessarily revolutionize your life with your dog. However, if you’re simply curious about your dog’s breed makeup and want a little extra insight into his personality, a DNA test is a fun way to get it! 

It may be tempting to test your pup in an effort to be proactive about potential future illnesses he may face, but before you do, speak to your veterinarian. A good diet and exercise, plus routine and frequent checkups may be a more realistic alternative.

Ultimately, the choice to DNA test your dog is yours but we know you’ll love your pup just the same either way! 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.