Collecting a DNA Sample
The first thing to do is to visit the Embark website and register your kit.
Here, you'll fill out some basic info about yourself and your dog, and enter the number found on the tube and the code from the tag. This way, the lab knowns whose DNA they're testing, and who to notify once they finish. The kit also comes with a list of useful info and a step-by-step guide to performing the test.
Now it's time to swab your dog for a DNA sample. Make sure you do so before they eat anything. The swab is soft and sponge-like, and it collects saliva. You need to hold it on your dog's lower gums for 30-60 seconds.
The tube for the swab comes filled with liquid. Once you finish swabbing, you put it inside, seal it, and shake it. Then you put the tube in a plastic bag that was provided in the box and ship it back to Embark.
You don't need to pay or add any stamps for shipping the box back, as everything is already included in the price. Once the box arrives at the lab, they'll email you.
How Fast Do the Results Come Back?
The kit will arrive in 2-3 days packed in a neat little box. However, once you send the sample, you'll need to wait for 3-6 weeks to get the results. This waiting time is longer than with other companies, such as Wisdom Panel, which tend to send you the findings in 2-4 weeks.
What Do the Results Include?
The canine genome is mapped like the human genome, with hundreds of papers to prove so, which means that the science behind dog DNA testing is legitimate and accurate. Embark goes in detail in the following categories:
Embark identifies over 250 unique breeds, which is excellent for mixed-puppy owners. They recognize the breed by looking at over 200,000 genetic markers.
Genetic Health Testing
Besides breed, Embark examines your dog's DNA for any markers associated with approximately 170 diseases common for dogs.
These markers don't mean your dog is sure to get a condition, but it's useful to speak to the veterinarian about them and learn how to prevent them.
This data is the most interesting for those testing puppies. Embark gives you information related to the genetic traits - their coat color, muzzle shape, estimated weight, and more.
Interpreting the Results
You'll receive another email when your results are ready for viewing. Then log on to their website to view the results. There will be four tabs for you to read through.
The first tab deals with your contribution to canine genetic research. You don't get data about your pet from it. Instead, it allows you to assist in pet science.. If you stick around on the Research panel, you may fill out surveys to help them improve further research. The topics relate to your dog's behavior, looks, and traits.
The Health tab contains the results of the test for possible genetic conditions. You'll see the diseases your dog is at risk from, and those it carries. On the website, there will be explanations of all these conditions. Carefully read those related to your dog, and check out others if you're interested, too.
Plus, you may print out a Vet Report to take to your next appointment. It will serve as useful information for developing a health maintenance plan for your pet.
The Breed report is an estimated makeup of the dog's DNA based on what they found in the sample. If your pet is mixed-breed, you'll like the percentages they show here. The breed panel also shows you an estimated hereditary line of parent dogs that could've been bred to create your puppy.
The Advanced panel is chock full of information for anyone looking to dive deep in dog genetics. You'll find the percentage of your dog's inbreeding, the chromosomes which came from which breed, and more. Besides, you'll learn about the predictions of your dog's physical attributes based on the DNA sample.
Embark is super accurate. It fares best when it comes to potential health issues related to genetics. The breed determination is consistent, too. Most people who used this service see both the physical and behavioral traits mentioned in the results in their pets.
Some owners may feel that the information on the Advanced panel is unnecessarily detailed, and too much to swallow. However, taking into account the scientific background of the company, it makes sense that they'd be so precise.