DNA testing has blown up in popularity over the past few years. Not only can you get a glimpse into your heritage, but it offers the potential to discover if you’re at risk for any diseases through genetic markers. Who knew you could also test your dog?
Indeed, many people are extending DNA test kits to Fido, since genetic tests can also identify the breed. There is no way for owners to tell the breed of your dog unless the rescue group can identify the mother and father. However, even if the previous owners know the parents, puppies in a litter can have different fathers from each other.
Many dog owners choose to purchase DNA tests for their dog to see if their fur baby holds any genetic markers for diseases. These tests look for clinical traits that help you more clearly understand your dog’s predisposition to certain diseases and how you can help manage them if possible.
In Link’s AKC Holiday Gift Guide, the dog Callie was given a DNA test for the holidays (a great idea for next year)! Initially, her parents believed her to be a Border Collie mix. Since Callie was adopted three years ago, she has been identified by veterinarians as different breeds ranging from a Flat-Coated Retriever because of her markings or a Spaniel because of her ears. However, the results are in! Using Callie’s DNA Test process as a guide, we’ll show you how you can test and identify your dog’s DNA:
Taking the Test
After you order your DNA test online and receive it in the mail, you can go ahead and take the test! Using a q-tip device, you can swab the inside of your dog’s cheek and send it back to the testing service via a postmarked label. When the sample is received in the lab, you will get texts or emails with updates on the process. As each piece of information is finalized, you will be sent a personal link to a website where you can review the results.
The first section of the result is the Health category. The section gives an overview of the common conditions for each dog breed. Callie’s breed, for example, had a higher chance of MDR1 Drug Sensitivity, eight different blood diseases, five types of eye diseases, one multisymptom, three brain and spinal cord diseases, one metabolic, one muscular and one gastrointestinal disease. Thankfully, Callie wasn’t a carrier for any of these diseases. In all, the test searches for 147 genetic diseases for her breed types.
However, her results showed that she did test positive for one genetic mutation that was marked as “at risk” for dilated cardiomyopathy. For dogs, “at risk” predicts that the condition will affect her during some point of her life, but it’s not a diagnosis and does not predict when symptoms may occur or the severity. It’s important to learn about predispositions, so you can do your best to find an early diagnosis and treat the disease.
Finding out your Dog’s Breed Mixes
The most fun part of the test is finding your dog’s breed mix! Callie’s mix shows that she is: 21.6% Border Collie, 19% Chow Chow, 14.6% American Eskimo Dog, 11.7% Beagle, 10.2% Boxer, 9.4% Pekingese, 13.5% Supermutt (small amounts of DNA from Scottish Collie, Norwegian Elkhound, and Collie).
Of all the breeds, Callie looks the most like a Border Collie, so her owners were surprised to learn that she was almost equal parts Chow Chow. In the next section, her owners found particular traits from each dog breed in her admixture. They found it amusing that most of her personality traits — like being shy of strangers — was true for their dog.
It might surprise you, but dog DNA testing can also identify a family tree for your pup. Starting with Callie at the top, they were able to follow her family tree to her great-grandparents. One of her great-grandparents was a Chow Chow/Pekingese mix.
In this section, owners can view other photos of dogs with the same mix match as Callie. Photos are based on the same percentages that were also tested. A dog named Pepito matched 62% with all of Callie’s breed mix.
One of the most interesting aspects of a dog DNA Test is the insight it provides into ancient dog Haplogroups. The section reveals your dog’s ancient heritage. Each Haplogroup can be traced back to a male or female wolf living tens of thousands of years ago. Further, they can give you an idea of your dog’s specific ancestral route across the globe. Some Haplotypes are particular DNA sequences can indicate which genes are from the mother or father. Many breeds have DNA dominated by only one or a few Haplotypes. Callie’s Haplotype, for instance, B1/13 comes from Central and South America and the South Pacific region.
This section focuses mainly on the physical traits and genetic diversity of your pup. The results list shows you the different genes that your dog holds for traits like coat color, body features, or performance. The genetic diversity shows if there’s any inbreeding within their DNA. Callie’s DNA indications for her coat, body features –like marking and shedding tendencies — and size were consistent.
The last section identified Callie’s relatives. DNA companies analyze how much your dog’s DNA matches that of other dogs in their database. Since DNA is passed down through the generations, it undergoes a process called recombination (it’s the same for humans). During this process, DNA from each parent is transferred to offsprings as two chromosomes mix randomly. This is why some human siblings sometimes only share 50 percent DNA or less with one another. The same thing happens in dogs, but there is a higher chance that two dog parents are inbred because of the history of breeding practices.
The closest relative for Callie was a dog named Grace who shared only 5.6 percent of her DNA. Grace is 50% Border Collie as is classified as “extended family”; she is similar to what we would identify as a second cousin. If any of Callie’s other relatives are tested in the future, the dog parents receive updates. The more dogs who are test, the higher the chances of getting matches!
Test your Pup!
DNA testing isn’t cheap, but the information it provides you on your pup’s heritage and health status is worth it. Knowing if your dog is predisposed to a condition or disease means you have a better chance of preventing any diseases from getting worse. We hope you get your pups tested and enjoy the intriguing history behind your pup’s heritage in the process!