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Should I Test My Dog’s DNA?

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Richard Hill
Should I Test My Dog’s DNA?

Testing your dog’s DNA is the process of gaining valuable health information about your dog through genetic testing. This is done by collecting a DNA sample (such as saliva) and testing it using a certified laboratory. DNA testing makes it easy to learn the associated genetic risks, health, nutrition needs and habits of your dog for costs ranging from $80 to $150.

DNA testing for dogs is even court-admissible evidence and is often used in cases. For example, DNAffirm used DNA testing to prove that a dog that was to be euthanized for being a pit bull, in fact, did not have any pit bull DNA.  

For interested owners, walk through the process of DNA testing in dogs, its accuracy, the types of tests available and five key advantages of getting your dog tested.

How to Test Your Dog’s DNA?

Most of the DNA testing kits designed for dogs follow the exact same testing procedure as they do for humans. The five steps below describe how to carry out a DNA test for your dog.

  1. Choose the right test, pay on the website, and receive the testing kit within one to two weeks.
  2. Procure a DNA sample of your dog using the cheek-swab method.
  3. Once you’re done, seal the swab inside the protective sleeve you received with the kit.
  4. Send it back to the lab.
  5. Review the results in a few days or weeks.

Are Dog DNA Tests Accurate?

Depending on the percentage of human error and the volume of breed information used by a company, the accuracy of the dog DNA test can vary from 95% to 99% (genetic testing in dogs is never 100% accurate).

To get accurate results when testing your dog, pick a service provider with a comprehensive list of medical tests and breed information.

What are the Types of Dog DNA Tests?

Every genetic testing website features different offerings for testing dogs’ DNA. However, the important thing to keep in mind is the total number of breeds analyzed by the laboratory, preferably over 300 varieties. Keep an eye out for the estimated turnover time for testing, including the delivery of the kit too.

You also need to find a test that fits all the specific health queries you have about your dog.

The following describes the three standard DNA tests for domestic dogs you can choose from.

Tests for Autosomal-Recessive Disorders

When your dog has an autosomal-recessive disorder, there are two mutated genes inherited, one from each parent. This is the most common DNA test that checks for inherited diseases in domestic dogs.

Results of the autosomal-recessive disorder can be any of the following: Affected, Carrier or Clear. Here, ‘affected’ means that the dog is carrying two mutated genes and ‘carrier’ describes dogs with one abnormal gene. ‘Clear’ means that there are no mutated genes of this type in your dog.

Tests for Autosomal-Dominant Disorders

One abnormal gene inherited from a parent is sufficient for the mutation to surface as autosomal dominance in the offspring. There are many DNA tests for identifying dominant and co-dominant mutations in dogs.

Results of autosomal-dominant conditions are described in the following ways: Homozygous affected, Heterozygous affected or Clear. Here, ‘homozygous affected’ means that the dog is carrying two mutated genes and ‘heterozygous affected’ refers to a dog being a carrier of one mutated gene. ‘Clear’ refers to the absence of abnormal genes in your dog.

Tests for DNA Linkage

DNA linkage tests determine the genetic status of a dog based on the other two tests. While DNA tests search for problem-causing genes in dogs, finding genes that are linked to the problematic genes helps too.

5 Reasons to Test Your Dog’s DNA  

Finding the percentage of breed varieties in dogs is one of the most popular reasons that people choose to do these DNA tests. With most genetic testing packages including family tree and health information, the benefits of getting your dog tested are multifold.

The following points outline five such advantages to dog DNA testing.

Assessing Growth and Ancestry

How big can your dog get? Does your pup have mastiff DNA? Why does your dog drool when it’s a Borzoi? DNA testing can answer many such questions of curious pet owners.

From determining the growth of your pet to unraveling his/her ancestry, DNA testing can help dog owners pinpoint many characteristics they did not otherwise know about their dog.

This test is ideal for pet owners and breeders alike.

Insights into Behavior

DNA testing helps to understand the personality of your dog by decoding breed percentages in his/her DNA. With genetic testing, you can figure out the reasons your dog behaves in a certain way based on its ancestry. It gives an insight into their habits, routines, and behavior using the genetic makeup of your dog based on its ancestors.

Dog owners can also create a comprehensive training plan designed specifically for their dog as a result of DNA testing too.

Recognizing Genetic Health Risks

Science has found breed-related genetic risks such as cancer, bleeding disorders, heart conditions, diabetes, and other common disorders by testing the DNA of dogs. It helps you know more about the disorder and how to care for your pet appropriately.

Gene testing also helps pet-owners learn more about the specific health needs of their dog. Following a DNA test, making lifestyle changes to prevent health risks for your dog is now possible.

Creating a Balanced Diet

Another important part of testing your dog’s DNA is building a better understanding about the nutritional needs of your dog based on their breed makeup and percentage. Once you do, adjusting your dog’s diet to prevent genetic risk factors is easier.

The best part is that you can customize your pet’s diet with breed-appropriate food once you know more about them.  

Responsible Breeding

One of the key benefits of DNA testing for dogs is to find out about the dog’s capacity for breeding. It’s not recommended to breed affected and carrier dogs, and poor breeding choices can lead to the spread of defective genes.

Informed breeding helps with identifying and breeding healthy pets to create healthy offspring.

Conclusion

Genetic testing for dogs is popular because it helps owners figure out traits, behavior, and health risks for their pets. Using a simple swab test, you’ll be able to find out a wealth of information that’ll help you enhance your dog’s health and lifestyle in an instant while aiming for a long and happy life.