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Embark DNA Dog Testing Kit Review

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Denis Law

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    Have you been toying around with the idea of DNA testing your dog? You may have heard that they are unnecessary or unreliable. While some are, Embark at-home genetic testing kit for your dog is the real deal.

    The recent scientific advances allowed Embark, founded in 2015, to offer the most accurate dog DNA testing available at home. Alongside breed identification, they will tell you the genetic health risks your pet may suffer.

    Embark is a company founded by scientist brothers who've spent years studying dog genetics. They partnered with Cornell University and their College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as Spencer Wells, to combine pet care with cutting edge-science.

    As such, it features the most extensive base of dog breeds. This breadth makes their test one of the most accurate for breed determination.

    Besides, they will check the DNA for signs of genetic medical conditions, where they cover 170 most common ones. They do so by checking for over 200,000 genetic markers. Knowing the genetic history of your dog can help you avoid potential health risks, medication, and even let you know how big your puppy will get.

    Today, we're taking an in-depth look at what they have to offer.

    Embark DNA: Pros and Cons

    You may be wondering whether this service is the best one for you, especially considering its price. So, we will reiterate the positive and negative sides of Embark DNA to help you decide.

    Pros:

    • The breed test runs the DNA through a base of 250 breeds.
    • The genetic information they offer is 100 times more comprehensive than those from competitors.
    • The genetic mutation test checks for over 175 dog health conditions.
    • The test procedure maintains raw DNA on every sample.
    • Live chat and email are available if your results are too complicated to interpret alone.
    • Embark DNA does charitable work with animal shelters.

    Cons:

    • Results take 4-6 weeks to arrive, which is slow in comparison.
    • The health and genome sequencing tests are quite expensive.

    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:

    Breed Ancestry

    Embark identifies over 250 unique breeds, which is excellent for mixed-puppy owners. They recognize the race 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.

    Genetic Traits

    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.

    Research Panel

    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 the company's growth. 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.

    Health Panel

    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.

    Breed Panel

    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.

    Advanced Panel

    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.

    Accuracy

    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.

    How does Embark DNA Protect Your Privacy?

    Besides the items you need for testing, you get a tag for your dog's collar. The badge comes with an Embark logo and a URL where people can look up your dog's genetic info. Furthermore, the site allows people to contact you in case your dog got lost, and they found it.

    Except for this situation, the only case when they disclose your personal information is with your consent. In that case, they will contact you beforehand.

    Matching With Relatives

    Embark DNA will provide you with an estimated lineage of your dog three generations back - the less breeds your dog is mixed with, the more accurate the information. Who knows, maybe you find out your little golden puppy has a Golden Retriever for a grandmother?

    Embark DNA’s Value

    There are three kits you may order from the website, all differing in prices. We must say that Embark charges more than most dog DNA tests, but their detailed reports justify the fact.

    The kits include:

    • Breed Identification Kit is the cheapest option at $129, which tells you about your pet's breed and ancestry.
    • Breed + Health Kit will cost you $189.00, but it will include essential data for the welfare of your pet.
    • Whole Genome Sequencing is the most expensive one, at $349. This kit is for genetics enthusiasts and those looking to learn all they can learn about their pets. It is also useful for dog breeders.

    To lessen the price, Embark offers several discounts. First of all, there's a $30 discount for the second kit on the list above available for Canine Journal readers. There's another promo code you may use at checkout for an additional $20 off for all packages.

    Purchasing an Embark kit is most straightforward on its official website. The package is pricey, but you need to do it only once in your life. Plus, as Embark learns more information about dog genetics, they send free updates from the DNA they collected from your pet.

    Summary

    Embark is one of the most recently developed companies in this market, with only a couple of years of history. However, it hasn't stopped the customers giving it their full trust. It is indeed a passionate, professional dog DNA testing company.

    The tests you will get with Embark are marvels of modern genetic science. They will serve not only the dog owner but to breeders and veterinarians alike. The brotherly tandem who started up Embark DNA is doing all they can to ensure dog well-being.

    Embark is here to stay. The prices may be a bit high, but the results you get for them are astonishing. Again, remember that you only need to do this test once in your life - why not do it with the best?