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Dog DNA Tests: Why Your Mutt’s Makeup Matters

Discovering your mutt’s background is easier and less expensive than you think.

Testing the DNA Tests continued...

“It was pretty easy,” says Belzer of the collection process. After he sent the completed test kits back to each company, results came within two to four weeks (Wisdom Panel was the quickest; both of the others took about a month). DDC and Canine Heritage findings came in the mail, and Wisdom Panel’s results were emailed.

Two of the three companies’ results validated Belzer’s hypothesis: that Girl was a Siberian Husky/German Shepherd mix. Wisdom Panel, which tests against more breeds than the other two, suggested Girl was part Border Collie. “That was something I would have never considered,” says Belzer, who doesn’t question the accuracy of the test. “The results were a little out of line with what the other two found, but it’s certainly not a breed that I would rule out.”

All of the companies contain disclaimers that the test is for informational purposes only, and most owners order dog DNA tests solely for the curiosity factor. “It answers hypothetical questions and can validate your assumptions,” Belzer says. “It’s also a great conversation piece at the dog park.”

Why Test Your Dog’s DNA?

Once predominant breeds are established, owners can take their results to their veterinarian to discuss potential health issues associated with specific breeds. “Boxers are prone to getting cancer, and Dobermans sometimes have bleeding disorders similar to hemophiliacs,” says Bernadine Cruz, DVM, associate veterinarian at California’s Laguna Hills Animal Hospital. Knowing these potential risks ahead of time, and asking your veterinarian to keep an eye out for them, can save lives.

Other potential reasons for dog DNA testing include wanting to know how big your puppy will get, or knowing in advance that if a dog’s predominantly terrier, for instance, it’s going to have an abundance of energy, Cruz says.

Mars Veterinary, makers of the Wisdom Panel dog DNA test, is considering using their results to create food specialized for specific breeds. So dogs predisposed to arthritis, for instance, might eat a diet containing ingredients that protect against the progression of the disease, Cruz says.

In addition, the affordability factor means it’s a somewhat small investment that will only make pet owners more informed about their pooches. “Your dog is a member of your family, and it’s nice to know something about where it came from,” Sutter says.

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Reviewed on March 23, 2010

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