Do dog DNA tests work?

DNA testing offers all of us a chance to connect to our heritage and family history in a fascinating way. You may find intriguing surprises or interesting tidbits you knew nothing about in the results, but what about dog DNA tests? Do they work, and why would your dog do one? Let’s take a closer look.

Dogs need answers

DNA tests work by taking a sample of DNA, often procured via a swab of the mouth and saliva, and then being tested against a database of known DNA samples. Each part of the DNA of any living animal tells a story about that creature’s origins but testing it is reliant on two very distinct aspects; how good is the sample, and how good is the database?

Anyone who’s ever tried to get near a dog’s mouth while expecting full cooperation knows that this is usually a fool’s errand, but if you can get a clean swab, and you can return it to the lab without contamination, you should be fine here. Just remember that you mustn’t touch the swab or you may well find out that your dog is half Dalmatian, half Rottweiler, and half the Jones family from 36 Railway Cuttings, Sheen.

But is the database any good? Well, typically, like with many things in life, you get what you pay for. The higher in price the test, the higher the likelihood that the company will have an extensive database that includes even wild dogs like wolves and dingos. If your dog is from common breeds, this won’t matter too much, but if your magnificent mongrel is a medley of numerous different breeds, this can come into play.

But do they work?

Yes, effectively. As mentioned, with a clean sample and a good database to work from, these tests can accurately determine the DNA of your dog and which breeds it comes from. The question you have to ask yourself, before spending any real money on this sort of thing is; do you care? Will it be exciting news to discover your dog is 5% Chihuahua or 10% Great Dane? It can be interesting, but often times, it really won’t be.



Enjoy this blog? Let's stay connected ;)