Do you want to learn about DNA testing for mixed breed dogs?
Have you ever sat and studied your mixed breed dog’s features and wondered just what kind of breeds are in his genetic background?
You might suspect one or two breeds, or even know what type of dog the mother is, but what else is in there?
Now, thanks to DNA testing, you can find out about your pup’s family tree.
Why DNA Testing for Dogs is Important
For the last 15,000 years, breeders have been striving to create dogs that fit their needs…hunters, herders, guard dogs and companion animals. This has produced more than 350 diverse dog breeds, each with their own physical and behavioral characteristics. Scientists have been determined to find out how this wide assortment of breeds, all descended from wolves, developed in such a relatively short period.
Researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom conducted extensive studies on the DNA of more than 13,000 dogs. As a result, they have been able to pinpoint differences in many breeds and ways to use that information to trace your dog’s genetic makeup. It is hoped this information can help answer questions about a dog’s health, temperament, and trainability.
It is also information that can help both dogs and their owners. Many of the genes that can cause health disorders in dogs can also be the cause of similar diseases in humans. Studying the canine genome can help us better understand human diseases that are otherwise difficult to study.
Understanding your dog’s genetic makeup can help you to prepare and prevent health issues that may arise as a result of their DNA, and can also help you with any behavioral traits that may become a problem.
DNA Testing for Mixed Breed Dogs – How to Get Your Dog Tested
Presently, there are two different types of dog DNA tests available. One of them involves a blood test, drawn at the veterinarian’s office and sent to a lab. This type of test is most likely more accurate and comprehensive, but it is invasive and most likely involves a higher cost depending on what your vet charges.
There is also a less invasive, less expensive way to test your dog’s DNA. You can purchase a dog DNA kit and swab the inside of your dog’s mouth. Mail the swab back to a lab and get the results in 2-6 weeks. This test is less extensive and can be less accurate, particularly when there are numerous breeds in your dog’s DNA. Here are a couple of different tests you can buy and try out for yourself:
The Wisdom Panel Breed Identification DNA Test Kit can recognize mixed breed, purebred or designer dog breed ancestry back to their great-grandparents and can recognize more than 250 breeds. It scans more than 1,800 predetermined genetic markers and includes the potentially life-saving MDR1 drug sensitivity screening. This tests your dog for multi-drug sensitivity, which can assist in the prevention of serious drug reactions.
The Embark Dog DNA Test is one of the most accurate dog breed identification tests available to buy. It tests over 200,000 genetic markers and is made by experts at Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine. It is also certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, and trusted by professional dog breeders & veterinary hospitals. This test is more expensive, but it will give you the most comprehensive picture of your dog’s genetic health and ancestry.
Whichever test you use, you will get findings in three categories: primary, secondary and trace breeds. It is rare to find a “primary breed” marker in a mixed breed dog unless at least one of its parents was a pure-bred. The secondary breed is more telling, but usually makes up less than 50% of the dog’s genetics. Trace breeds may be gifts from as far back as great grandparents and don’t usually have a strong effect on your dog’s traits. In some tests, these will just show as “mixed breed” which is not as helpful.
Should You Have Your Dog’s DNA Tested?
There are some compelling reasons to have your dog’s DNA tested. Of course, many people do it simply to satisfy their curiosity. Others feel it will help them better plan for their dog’s future and may help them prevent or lessen health problems prone to specific breeds. It may also help lead to a better understanding of your dog’s behavior and help you to train your dog the right way.
Others feel that the tests are not yet accurate enough to be useful. That the information is too broad to be relevant. Opponents believe you can probably learn as much from observation and books about various breeds that you suspect are in your dog’s background.
The decision to test or not test is up to you. Make sure you discuss it with your vet so you can make an informed decision. If you decide against testing, what will you say when people do a double take when looking at your pup and ask, “What kind of dog is that?” Just smile and say, “The best kind!”
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