Are you the proud pet parent of an adorable “Heinz 57” mutt and find yourself wondering, “What breed is my dog?” Well, it’s time to solve the mystery of your pup’s roots. With a dog DNA test, or dog breed identification test, you can finally discover exactly what breeds your dog falls under, plus other valuable information about their ancestry.
There are currently a variety of breed identification tests to choose from depending on your budget, your pet and what information you are looking to learn. This can make choosing a dog breed identifier test difficult.
To make the selection process easier, I tried out three dog breed identification tests on my dogs and evaluated them based on the testing method and the results received. I hope it helps you decide which one is best for you and your mystery blend pup.
Test 1: Embark Breed Identification and Genetic Traits Dog DNA Test Kit
The first test I used was the Embark Breed Identification and Genetic Traits Dog DNA Test Kit on our dog Layla. This dog breed identification test is very comprehensive, which can be seen in both the testing process and the results.
The results for the Embark Breed identification test are packed with information. Most tests will identify the breeds that make up your dog and their ancestry. This test not only does the aforementioned, but it also tests your pup’s genetics for 160+ diseases. Plus, the results isolate individual breed traits that cause your mixed breed dog to have his very unique look.
In order to have this mammoth amount of information on your pup, results tend to have a waiting time of approximately two months. The results are delivered by e-mail, which you can then access by going through Embark’s website, which is desktop- and mobile-friendly.
Embark is very good about sending email updates each step of the way. Embark also allows you to share your dog’s information with your vet as well as your friends on social media.
If you’ve ever done a human DNA ancestry test, you will find that you have to shake your saliva up into a solution that is then mailed to the company and tested. Well, that was the same process for Embark’s test, except you use a large cotton swab in your dog’s mouth to capture the saliva (since asking a dog to spit into a tiny container would be rather challenging).
After getting the sample from Layla, we shook it up, put it in a little baggie and shipped it off back to Embark’s headquarters for the results.
Layla’s health results came back before her dog breed identifier results. The good news: Layla is 100 percent all clear for all the potential diseases that Embark tests for!
So, what about the breed results? Well, we’ve told everyone over the past almost nine years that Layla is a Border Collie and American Staffordshire Terrier mix—and we were wrong! Layla is 46.5 percent Boxer, 34.7 percent Labrador Retriever, 15.3 percent Australian Cattle Dog and 3.5 percent Bulldog. Also, Embark guessed her weight perfectly at 57 pounds (let’s be honest, sometimes she creeps up to 60 pounds, but we don’t need to talk about that).
Embark also has something called a “wolfiness” score, which simply measures the similar genetic markers to wolves—not that she has any wolf bred into her. They declared her wolfiness score to be 1.5 percent.
Embark will also share dogs previously tested that resemble Layla’s breed composition. This is where it got interesting: All of the breeds in Layla’s results had short hair, but Layla is a long-haired dog. After reaching out to Embark about this anomaly, they had a scientist review Layla’s results for further clarification. They then determined that she carries a genetic TT trait, which gave her the one in a million lottery win of getting long hair! How cool is that?
You can spend hours on Embark’s site reviewing your dog’s maternal and paternal haplotypes, advanced results and breed families. If you’re interested in really diving deep into your dog’s ancestry and health, then Embark is the way to go.
Test 2: Wisdom Panel 3.0 Breed Identification DNA Test Kit
Next, I tested the Wisdom Panel 3.0 Breed Identification DNA Test Kit on our dog Pippin. Wisdom Panel 3.0 is a happy medium of doggie DNA testing.
Wisdom Panel gives you the breed identities and ancestry of your pooch three generations back. They also test for the MDR1 genetic mutation, which can cause dogs to have an adverse reaction to commonly prescribed drugs, like heartworm medications and sedatives. The MDR1 gene, according to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University, has been found in a variety of herding breeds and mixed breed dogs. Through the results, you’ll be able to see if your mixed breed dog is at risk.
Wisdom Panel also keeps your dog’s DNA in their database so you can choose to opt in for various other services later, such as the full Wisdom Panel Health test that looks at 140+ different genetic health issues.
To use Wisdom Panel, it’s pretty straightforward and just takes about 10 minutes of your time. In order to do the testing, you are collecting cheek cells from your pooch by rolling around swabs in your pet’s mouth for about 15 seconds each. After you’ve gotten those little cells from your pooch’s slobber zone, you will place them in the box to dry for five minutes before shipping them off for your results.
Once you register your test and mail off your sample for Wisdom Panel, you will only have to wait about two to three weeks for the results. Once the results are ready, you will receive an email with all the answers you’ve been waiting for.
We thought that Pippin was an American Eskimo Dog and a Shiba Inu crossbreed, otherwise known as an Eskie Inu. We got about half of that right! We found out that Pippin is indeed 50 percent American Eskimo Dog, but he is also 12.5 percent Boxer, 12.5 percent Chihuahua, 12.5 percent Chow Chow and 12.5 percent mixed breed, which includes the groups of sporting, terrier, Middle Eastern and African, Asian and hound.
After this breakdown of breeds, Wisdom Panel 3.0 provides a family tree that shows the best estimate for which dogs came from where and which breeds were bred together. After reviewing the tree, Wisdom Panel 3.0 takes you through each breed and their qualities; Pippin seems to have gotten a lot of his personality from the American Eskimo Dog, his ears from the Chihuahua, his tail from the Chow Chow and his body and agility from the Boxer.
Wisdom Panel 3.0 accurately estimated Pippin’s weight as being between 26-44 pounds (Pippin is 38 pounds).
Additionally, Pippin was cleared of the MDR1 gene mutation, which helped put our minds at ease.
The Wisdom Panel dog breed identifier will tell you more about the breeds and genetic traits that make up your pooch. If you want to know more about your pup’s great grandparents or find out if your dog’s personality is truly that of the American Eskimo Dog (like I wanted to know), I recommend this test to you.
Test 3: DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test
Last, but certainly not least, we used the DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test on Sneaux. DNA My Dog’s test is the most budget friendly of all the tests and only takes a few minutes to administer.
DNA My Dog will email your results, which includes a certificate authenticating your dog’s breeds and gives you a lab reference number. You will also receive a full breakdown in a PDF that goes through each dog breed found in your dog.
DNA My Dog determines dog breed breakdown by “levels.” For instance, a Level 2 Breed would indicate that the dog has the most of that breed in it, and a Level 5 breed would indicate that there is just a trace amount of that breed. You will see with DNA My Dog that the results are in a range, so a Level 2 may indicate that your pooch is 37 percent to 74 percent of one breed. Each breed is then described and their respective major health concerns are listed.
You will also be able to register for the DNA My Dog Life Plan with the lab reference number on your certificate. The DNA My Dog Life Plan can help you keep all of your pet’s info all in one place, including all your veterinarian, groomer and doggy daycare contacts. You can even set alerts to remind you about important information regarding your pet, like routine care items and health alerts.
There are a few other services that DNA My Dog offers that are unique, such as the ability to do a dog breed identification test on a deceased dog by using items that have their saliva, such as toys, toothbrush or blankets. DNA My Dog also now offers a separate test that determines if your dog has any wolf, fox or coyote DNA present.
One of the reasons that DNA My Dog is budget friendly is because they do not elaborate on the genetic health of your pooch. If you want further genetic health information, you can add that with a basic Health Plan screening.
Similar to the previous test, you take two swabs and swish inside your dog’s mouth. After swabbing your pet, you will put the swabs into an envelope and let them dry for 25 minutes. After that, you ship your results. Generally, you will only have to wait two weeks for your results.
We tested Sneaux and were not surprised to find that our big white marshmallow of a dog was an American Eskimo Dog, of course! The testing did show there was a possibility of English Setter, which may explain why he is a bit on the larger side compared to most Eskies.
If you are interested in a budget-friendly way to find out what breeds are in your pup, DNA My Dog is one of the more economically-friendly dog breed identifier tests.
So, are you finally ready to answer the question, “What breed is my dog?” We are so glad that we were able to learn more about all of our dogs, their breeds and why they are the way that they are. We even got to be more educated on genetic traits, health and more from doing these tests.
Whether you are all in and looking to learn about every part of your dog’s DNA or you just want to get an idea of what your pup is made of, there is a dog breed identification DNA test out there for you!
By Kiersten Relyea