You want to know everything there is to know about your dog — including exactly what type of pup they are. However, it’s not always easy to tell just by looking at them, which is where DNA tests come in.
These exams can analyze a variety of genetic markers in your dog’s DNA, revealing everything from their breed to any potential health issues that may lie in store for them. All you have to do is take a sample (usually a cheek swab) and mail it in, and the company will mail you your results in due time.
Of course, not every DNA testing service is equally good. Some provide much more detail than others, and some can give you more precise information than their counterparts. In the reviews below, we’ll help you decide which test is best for you, so you can finally learn all the secrets your dog’s been hiding.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Wisdom Panel 3.0 Breed Identification||
|Best Value||DNA My Dog||
|Premium Choice||Embark Detection Dog DNA Test Kit||
|Paw Print Pedigrees||
|GenoPet 5.0 DNA Test||
The 7 Best DNA Tests for Dogs – Reviews 2021
1. Wisdom Panel Breed Identification Dog DNA Test – Best Overall
If you want to learn as much as you can about your pup’s heritage, then Wisdom Panel 3.0 is your best bet for comprehensive results.
Each kit will reveal your dog’s genetic breakdown back to the great-grandparent level, so you can finally prove just how purebred (or how much of a mutt) your dog is. The system detects over 250 breeds, including virtually all of those officially recognized by the AKC, so you should have a much better idea of your dog’s heritage once you’re finished.
However, it doesn’t always list every single breed individually. You may see one or two breeds on your dog’s report, and then a certain percentage that’s simply labeled “other breeds.” That can be frustrating, especially if it was those other breeds that you were curious about.
The test does more than just provide you with trivia about your pup. It can also check for things like the gene that’s responsible for causing adverse reactions to prescription drugs, potentially saving your dog’s life.
You’ll also get a chart that compares your dog to other animals with a similar makeup so that you can see how your pup stacks up to their kinfolk.
While it’s not perfect, the Wisdom Panel 3.0 is the best DNA test we’ve found so far, which is why it finds itself at the top of these rankings.
2. DNA My Dog DNA Test Kit– Best Value
All you need to do is take a swab of your pup’s cheek, and the DNA My Dog kit will tell you what’s going on inside their genetic code. Best of all, it’s one of the most budget-friendly options on the market, making it our choice for the best DNA test for dogs for the money.
The swab is easy to use, even if you have a skittish dog on your hands. Getting the sample shouldn’t be an issue.
You won’t have to wait long for your results, either, as in most cases, they’ll email you the information within two weeks. They’ll also mail you a paper certifying your results that you can frame in case you’re particularly proud of your dog’s results.
The report doesn’t just list the different breeds, but it will also tell you what percentage of each breed is inside your dog. This lets you anticipate various health issues and other concerns that might come along with owning a certain breed (or a percentage of a certain breed, as the case may be).
You have the option of including a photo of your dog with the swab, and doing so may increase the accuracy of the results. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, but you can always choose to skip the photo if you so desire.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to learn about your pooch’s heritage, the DNA My Dog system is one of the most budget- (and user-) friendly models on the market.
It’s one of the pricier options out there, but if finding out as much about your dog as you can is important to you, then the Embark Detection Kit may be the way to go.
The test analyzes over 200,000 genetic markers, giving you one of the most in-depth reports you’ll find anywhere. This allows it to trace your dog’s family tree back to their great-grandparents, and it can even be used to find your dog’s relatives if they’re in the system.
It will recognize over 350 different breeds, and it can pinpoint over 190 potential health conditions that could affect your pup.
The company keeps in touch throughout the process, including emailing you as soon as they receive your results. This keeps you in the loop so that you’re not wondering if your test got lost in the mail. They’ll also notify you as the test progresses through their system.
Some of the health information they include feels a little useless, as most of it includes disclaimers about not relying too heavily on the data they provide. We understand that they likely have to cover their backsides for legal reasons, but the information feels about as useful as what you could find by googling your dog’s various breeds.
Still, you’re unlikely to find a test as thorough or accurate as the Embark Detection Kit, so if you’re willing to fork over a fair bit of cash, you’ll learn more about your dog than you ever thought possible.
4. Paw Print Pedigrees Dog DNA Test Kit
Using Paw Print Pedigrees is like having your very own lab on call. It’s not an ancestry kit, but if you already know what kind of dog you have, it can tell you more about that breed than you ever thought possible.
Each report is analyzed using two independent methods to ensure you have the most accurate information possible. Those results are reviewed by both a geneticist and a veterinarian before being passed on to you, so you’ll have plenty of sets of well-informed eyes on your dog’s data.
Of course, having your own lab on hand isn’t going to be cheap, and this is one of the most expensive reports you’ll find anywhere. It also doesn’t do well analyzing mixed breeds, so save your money if you own a mutt.
They’ll give you a discount on multiple dogs, though, so it’s a good way to test an entire litter (or just all the unrelated pups in your house). They’ll also save leftover DNA for no additional cost, making it cheap and easy to order additional tests down the line.
If you want to learn all you can about your dog’s health, there’s no better way than to have a professional lab analyze your pup’s DNA — and that’s exactly what Paw Print Pedigrees offers.
5. GenoPet 5.0 Dog DNA Test Kit
The GenoPet 5.0 does a whole lot more than explain to you the various breeds floating around inside your dog’s genetic code. It can help you map out your dog’s entire life.
The company provides something called a Life Plan that helps you direct the course of your dog’s life according to their genetic makeup. This helps you figure out everything from their diet to recommended activity level so that they can live their best life based on their natural proclivities.
In addition to your results, you’ll have access to an online report that includes the Life Plan as well as some other information. Unlike many other tests, though, you can update this report over time to reflect your dog’s current health status. It can also track vaccines and other health information to ensure your dog doesn’t miss any important shots or checkups.
While the online report is a good idea, the implementation is a little clunky. The interface is often buggy, and you may find yourself needing to enter in the information multiple times before it takes.
This kit is also very expensive, but it’s unclear what it really offers that the Embark Detection Kit does not. As a result, it’s hard to justify paying the additional price.
All in all, the GenoPet 5.0 is a good test with a lot of clever bells and whistles, but it’s hard to recommend it when there are better, less-expensive options out there.
6. PRA-PRCD DNA Test
The PRA-PRCD Test is a very specialized DNA screen. All it does is check for the genetic markers associated with progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and progressive red-cone degeneration (PRCD).
As such, it’s very limited in its results. You won’t learn what breed your dog is or whether they’re at risk for any diseases other than the two listed above.
However, the test is incredibly precise, especially when compared to ancestry kits. The results are incredibly trustworthy, and you won’t be scratching your head wondering why the kit said that your 150-pound dog has mostly Chihuahua DNA running through their veins.
It’s also fairly inexpensive compared to most ancestry kits, although it’s not exactly what we’d call “cheap.” If you’re planning to breed your dog, though, the information is certainly worth every penny.
Unfortunately, the test doesn’t work for all breeds (Dachshunds are one of the more notable breeds that aren’t compatible with the test). It’s also dodgy for use on mutts.
The PRA-PRCD Test isn’t for every dog, but if you’re worried about your pup’s ocular health, it may be worth it for the peace of mind it provides.
7. Orivet Dog DNA Test Kit
If you have a mutt that you’re curious about, the Orivet DNA Test is one of the best ways to find out about their heritage. It’s specially-designed for mixed breeds, so you’ll learn about every single ingredient in your dog’s genetic soup.
In addition to letting you know what breeds are swimming around in your pup’s veins, it will also make certain predictions about your dog’s future based on that information. They’ll guess at everything from your dog’s adult weight to how they might behave once fully-grown.
The company promises to get your results back to you within 2-3 weeks, but it often takes longer than that. Also, they ask you to fill out a survey beforehand, and this survey asks for lots of the information that you’d expect the DNA tests to reveal, which calls the whole exercise into question.
Even if you get all the results you want, it only shows breeds that register up to 12.5% of your dog’s DNA. That means any breed that has smaller traces in your dog’s makeup will only show up as “other” on the exam.
If you want a basic test that will give you a good amount of information on your mutt, the Orivet DNA Test is a good option. It’s far from the best model on the market, though, which is why it finds itself at the bottom of this list.
Buying a DNA testing kit for your dog may seem like a lot of fun, which is why many people don’t give much thought to which kit to purchase. However, buying the wrong one can be a big mistake, as they don’t all offer the same information — much less the same degree of precision.
In the guide below, we’ll show you what questions to ask before you make a decision so that you can get the kit that will work best for you and your pooch.
What Types of DNA Kits Are There?
There are two basic types: ancestry kits and health screeners.
Ancestry kits will let you know all the different dog breeds that run through your pup’s veins. They’re great for learning about your mutt’s heritage or ensuring that the purebred pooch you paid top-dollar for is actually purebred.
Health screeners, on the other hand, analyze your dog’s genes to determine if they’re at risk for certain diseases. There are certain genetic markers or mutations that increase your dog’s odds of contracting some health issues, so knowing if your dog has those markers will help you keep an eye out for problems before they start.
Of course, just having the marker or mutation isn’t a guarantee that your dog will develop the associated disease; it merely increases the risk. Still, it can be helpful, as it gives you (and your vet) an idea of what to look out for as they age.
Some DNA tests involve blood samples, but these are usually done by vets, so you don’t have to worry about pricking your pup with a needle. Samples derived from cheek swabs are just as reliable, though, so don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.
Why Do I Need a DNA Kit for My Dog?
You likely don’t need one, but they can be a lot of fun — especially ancestry kits. You’d be surprised how many different breeds could be mixed inside your dog, and once you have an idea of what’s in there, you’ll likely start seeing your pup in a whole new light.
Health screeners can be more useful, but they’re still not essential. They’ll give you a head-start on spotting certain issues, but they may not help to actually prevent those issues, and you can likely get much of the same information simply by scheduling regular checkups with your vet.
You can also get some idea of potential health problems your dog may face by using an ancestry kit. Certain breeds are more likely to suffer from certain conditions than others, so once you know what’s inside your dog, you can be on the lookout for those issues.
Some pet insurance companies require DNA tests before they’ll cover your dog as well. This allows them to know exactly what they’re getting into so that they can tailor your coverage to your dog’s exact makeup.
How Do They Work?
Virtually every at-home test kit involves taking a swab of your dog’s cheek with a Q-tip or similar device. You then put the swab inside an envelope and mail it to the company for analysis.
The company will then take the sample and run tests on it. This process usually takes a few weeks, and once the results are complete, the company will send you a report via mail or email.
Each company has a unique database with information on a certain number of breeds (the size of the database varies from company to company and is a key factor in determining which tests are better than others). They can then match your dog’s DNA with others they have listed.
The report that you’ll get will also vary from test to test. Some merely list the various breeds present in your dog’s DNA, while others will issue predictions on their weight, health, and other factors.
Are They Safe?
Yes, these kits are completely safe. Again, all you’re going to do is swab your dog’s cheek with a Q-tip.
However, you shouldn’t draw too many concrete conclusions from the results. Don’t take action based on their health report; for example, these tests should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your vet.
Why Does My Dog’s Results Sheet Show Unknown DNA?
Many tests are only precise to a certain degree. If there are slivers of a breed’s DNA under that threshold, the test won’t be able to identify them. These breeds are usually lumped together under “unknown.”
Different tests have different thresholds. More precise tests will be more expensive, but they’ll also identify the less-obvious breeds inside your pup.
How Do I Know That the Results Are Reliable?
Unfortunately, the only real answer we can give you is that you don’t. Not really, anyway.
However, you can compare them to what you already know about your dog to test their reliability for yourself. For example, if you have a tiny dog and the results claim that there’s a lot of Mastiff DNA in them, you can rightly call their accuracy into question.
If, however, they largely line up with what you already believe about your dog, then it’s much more likely that they’re trustworthy.
One issue that many owners have with some of these tests is that a few of them ask for pictures or other information about the dog ahead of time. These owners feel that the companies use this information to guide their predictions, rather than actually analyzing your dog’s DNA.
There’s no evidence to support these beliefs, but neither can we prove that they’re not accurate. If you’re suspicious of a certain test, then you should either find one that doesn’t ask for information ahead of time or resign yourself to viewing the tests as more of a novelty than anything.
Our favorite DNA test is the Wisdom Panel 3.0, as it provides information dating back to your dog’s great-grandparents, as well as informing you of potentially problematic genetic mutations.
If you’re looking for an excellent option that will help you save some money, consider DNA My Dog. It provides results quickly, and it offers nearly as much detail as tests that cost many times its price.
Finding out more information about your dog is extremely fun and rewarding, and the DNA tests featured in the reviews above can give you more facts about your pet than you ever thought possible. They’re useful for more than just trivia, though — some may even help save your pup’s life.
Featured Image Credit: Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 7 Best DNA Tests for Dogs – Reviews 2021
- Buyer’s Guide