At home dog DNA testing is a quick and easy way to find out which breeds are in your pet's ancestry.
DNA testing for dogs isn't a new process, but simple at-home test kits have only become available to pet owners in the last few years.
Before these tests, it was impossible to know which breeds were in a mixed-breed puppy's family tree, unless you knew for a fact who his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with the element of 'surprise!' :)
You can have a lot of fun guessing where Fido's coat color, curly tail, short legs or long muzzle come from, but there are some serious reasons for learning what your pup's genetic make up is....
The at-home dog DNA tests featured on this page contain everything you need (including easy-to-follow instructions) to get a sample of your pet's dna and then mail it to the lab in the pre-paid envelope.
Once your dog's dna (easy cheek-swab) sample reaches the laboratory it's compared to the appropriate database of breeds to determine which ones appear in parents, grand-parents and great-grandparents.
The larger the database the more accurate the results.
About 3 weeks later you'll get email notification that your results are ready and available to be downloaded from the company's website. It's just so quick and easy!
These results include an individual Ancestry Report which shows the most significant breeds in his ancestry and give you breed-specific information on each one.
You also get a lovely family tree certificate that you can display in a frame, or just keep for future reference.
The test for mixed breeds is available from some retail stores and dog training establishments as well as online, but the purebred, designer products are only available online.
Widsom Panel dog dna testing kits are considered to be the 'gold standard' when it comes to this type of product, and that's why I've chosen to feature them here. (Wisdom Panel isowned by Mars Veterinary, a division of Mars Inc, the candy company).
They have the largest database of breeds and this means a higher level of accuracy when testing, but it's not necessarily perfect.
Research has shown that this type of dog DNA testing has been 99% accurate in trials, but there is no guaranteed percentage given by the companies involved.
This is partly due to the fact that the dna material supplied by owners isn't always of the best quality.
So, in order to get the best possible dna sample from your dog, it's important to follow the instructions very closely.
That way you'll be less likely to be sending an incomplete, or contaminated sample, which means a more 'spot on' result!
One other point about accuracy with the mixed-breed dog dna test, is that the number of breeds in your pup's genetic make-up plays a part.
If your dog is the product of more than a dozen different breeds, it can make it trickier for the test to identify them all!
But you'll still get specific information on the most dominant breeds in his family tree, and as that is most likely where his health/behavioral characteristics will come from, these are valuable insights.
And of course it's just nice to know what genes your puppy-of-mixed-parentage has hidden away under that adorable exterior :)
Wisdom Panel 2.0 is the most basic mixed breed dog DNA test kit, and can identify up to 200 different breeds.
Sensitive and accurate, this kit will show the most significant breed/s in your pet's genetic background, plus intermediate and minor breed info. too.
You can buy this kit online (usually the best prices are online) and some large pet retailers also sell it.
The Wisdom Panel 3.0 dog dna test kit is one step up and can identify approximately 250 breeds (including wolf/coyote bloodlines) plus the MDR1 genetic mutation test and other genetic traits.
It's available online only.
Once you know which breeds are the most dominant you can tailor diet, exercise and veterinary care to your pet's specific needs - which will keep him happier and healthier long term.
The original test kit for purebred dogs is currently unavailable.
The 'Optimal Selection' Dog DNA kit is available directly from wisdompanel.com for breeders who want to screen potential breeding stock for certain hereditary diseases in addition to many genetic traits.