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The 4 Best Dog DNA Test Kits

The 4 Best Dog DNA Test Kits

In the realm of canine companionship, dog DNA testing has piqued the curiosity of pet parents everywhere. It’s not just about the thrill of discovery or solving the mystery behind peculiar, lovable traits of your mixed breed. 

Instead, it’s a journey into understanding your dog’s roots, providing insights into their health and wellness. Of course, it can also help answer that frequently asked question at the dog park: “What breed is your dog?”

Imagine pinpointing the exact dog breeds that make up your beloved pet or understanding the combination of genetics that create your dog’s unique personality and appearance. From purebreds to the most eclectic mix, understanding the genetics of our pets offers pet owners information about their heritage and potential health predispositions.

This guide will take a close look at the four best DNA kits to ensure you can get the most accurate information about your dog. 

How Does Dog DNA Testing Work?

To many, swabbing your dog’s cheek might seem like a simple task. However, the science behind it is fascinating. With just a quick swab from the inside of your dog’s mouth, you can learn several key pieces of information. How does this all work?

When rubbed against the dog’s cheek, the cotton swab collects skin cells. These cells contain the DNA sample necessary for the test. DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is like a biological blueprint. It’s a set of instructions that determine everything from a dog’s physical traits to their potential health predispositions. 

Central to DNA testing are what scientists refer to as “genetic markers.” These markers are specific sequences in the DNA that can be identified and analyzed, helping breed identification and uncovering potential health risks.

While the process might sound complex, it’s as easy as swabbing, sealing, and sending. Once the lab receives the sample, experts extract and analyze the DNA, focusing on thousands of these genetic markers. 

The result? A comprehensive report detailing breed makeup, health screening, and even information on drug sensitivities or specific genetic mutations (MDR1 testing). Through these tests, pet parents can discover everything from their dog’s breed heritage to critical insights about their wellness. 

What Is MDR1 Testing?

MDR1 testing for dog DNA refers to the evaluation of the Multi-Drug Resistance 1 gene, also known as the ABCB1 gene. This gene is responsible for producing a protein that plays a crucial role in the blood-brain barrier, regulating the transportation of various medications across this barrier.

Certain dog breeds, such as Collies, Australian Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs, and several others, can carry a mutation in the MDR1 gene. This mutation can result in increased sensitivity to certain drugs, including some commonly used medications like Ivermectin, which is used to prevent parasites. Dogs with the MDR1 mutation may experience adverse reactions and toxicity to these drugs.

MDR1 testing is done to identify if a dog carries the MDR1 mutation, allowing veterinarians to make more informed decisions regarding which medications are safe to administer to the dog and at what dosages.

What Are the Top 4 Dog DNA Test Kits?

When choosing a dog DNA test kit, it’s important to look for companies prioritizing research and high-quality products. 

This section will examine the top four dog DNA test kits. 

1. Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test

Wisdom Panel is synonymous with accuracy and a vast breed database. They offer two primary products for pet parents: the Wisdom Panel Essential and the Wisdom Panel Premium.

Wisdom Panel Essential is a fantastic starting point for those looking to learn their dog’s genetic lineage. It provides breed identification from a robust database, making it a solid choice for those with mixed-breed dogs curious about their pet’s ancestry.

But the Wisdom Panel Premium is your go-to if you’re looking for a more comprehensive view. Beyond breed identification, it dives deep into health screenings, analyzing your dog’s DNA for potential genetic health conditions. A standout feature is its MDR1 screening, which tests for drug sensitivities — vital information for any pet parent.

Wisdom Panel sets itself apart with its large breed database and rigorous scientific approach. Whether you’re a curious dog owner or seeking in-depth health insights, Wisdom Panel offers a tailored solution.

2. Embark Dog DNA Test

Embark is not just another dog DNA test kit. It’s a collaboration with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Their breed breakdown is incredibly in-depth, making it a favorite among pet parents keen on uncovering every branch of their dog’s family tree.

The Embark Dog DNA Test is comprehensive. Besides breed identification, it provides a relative finder feature, a unique tool that connects you with other dogs with the same DNA. With this tool, you can locate your dog’s cousins around the country.

Embark also conducts thorough health screenings, highlighting genetic health risks that could be pivotal for a pet’s wellness planning. Understanding these genetic diseases and predispositions allows pet parents to work closely with vets, ensuring their dogs get the best care tailored to their genetic makeup.

With its blend of scientific rigor, in-depth breed breakdown, and a commitment to holistic dog wellness, Embark truly stands out in the canine genetic testing landscape.

3. Orivet Dog DNA Test

For those on the hunt for a comprehensive health and breed identification kit, Orivet offers an impressive lineup. While it might not have the widespread name recognition of some competitors, it makes up for it with its detailed tests and actionable insights.

The Orivet Dog DNA Test focuses heavily on health tests, seeking out potential medical complications and genetic mutations in your dog’s DNA. Their health screening is expansive, analyzing everything from common genetic diseases to breed-specific health concerns.

In terms of breed identification, Orivet boasts a substantial breed database. Whether you have a purebred or a mixed-breed dog, Orivet’s analysis clarifies your pet’s genetic heritage. Additionally, its results delve into physical and personality traits, giving a rounded picture of why your dog might act or look a certain way.

For pet parents keen on an all-encompassing snapshot of their dog’s health and heritage, Orivet is an outstanding choice.

4. DNA My Dog Test

At the heart of DNA My Dog is a commitment to straightforward, easy-to-understand results. It’s the ideal choice for those who want a quick glimpse into their pet’s genetic diversity without being overwhelmed by excessive information.

The primary offering focuses on breed identification. By analyzing your dog’s sample, DNA My Dog provides a breakdown of the different breeds that make up your pet. This is particularly fascinating for mixed-breed dog owners, giving insights into the blend that makes up their dog.

Alongside the Breed & Health kit, they offer a health screening that checks for common genetic health conditions. While it might not be as exhaustive as some other kits on the market, it gives a solid overview of potential health issues.

In the world of dog DNA test kits, DNA My Dog offers a balance of simplicity and depth. It’s perfect for pet parents who want clear, actionable insights about their dog’s genetic story without more technical reports.

How Can You Decipher the Results of a Dog DNA Test?

While many pet parents dive into dog DNA testing out of curiosity about their pet’s lineage, the results provide much more. Beyond breed breakdown, these tests offer insights into your dog’s health, wellness, and personality traits.

Understanding genetic health conditions and predispositions allows you to tailor care to your pet’s unique needs. Awareness of breed-specific health issues or drug sensitivities, like the MDR1 mutation, can be lifesaving. Moreover, recognizing certain genetic traits can explain behavioral quirks, shedding light on why your dog might exhibit particular behaviors.

Conclusion: Navigating the World of Canine Genetics 

Navigating canine genetics has been made incredibly accessible with the evolution of dog DNA test kits. These kits are not merely tools of curiosity — they open a window to understanding our pets on a deeper level. 

From tracing ancestry to uncovering potential health risks in their genes, the best dog DNA test kits empower pet parents with knowledge. They demystify the blend of breeds that contribute to our pet’s unique personalities and looks while offering vital insights into health and wellness. 

For the modern pet parent, conscious of the joy and responsibility of caring for a dog, these kits are a tool for understanding and care. But it’s important to remember that these tests are not a replacement for regular wellness screenings with your veterinarian. 

For more information about pet health and behavior, check out the ElleVet blog. We strive to offer resources and tools for all pet parents looking to support their pets’ health and wellness. 


Canine genetics research | College of Veterinary Medicine

Preventing genetic diseases in dogs, our best friends | University of Cambridge

Frequency and distribution of 152 genetic disease variants in over 100,000 mixed breed and purebred dogs | NIH

Exploratory content analysis of direct-to-consumer pet genomics: What is being marketed and what are consumers saying? | NIH