Dotdash Meredith and Yahoo Inc. may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.
Our top pick is the Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Collection Kit
In a world of constant connectivity, DNA tests are wildly popular amongst humans who want to know more about their heritage and ancestors. But swabbing for DNA samples isn’t just for humans — our fur babies can benefit from knowing more about where they come from, too. Dog DNA tests can share accurate information about breed makeup in mixed breeds, provide breed verification in purebreds, and test for other important aspects such as genetic disorders, personality traits, medication allergies (including MDRI drug sensitivity), and inbreeding.
According to Dr. Amanda Takiguchi, a veterinarian and founder of Trending Breeds, which is dedicated to tips and guidance on various dog breeds, including purebreds and mixed breeds, a dog DNA test is considered more of an extracurricular but can be beneficial nonetheless. “In general, a DNA test is only necessary when you breed your female to two males and use DNA to sort out which puppies were sired by which male so that you can register the puppies,” she explains in context to breeding processes. Although a dog DNA test is optional for your pet, some owners might find it worthwhile, as doggie DNA kits can identify breeds — which those with adopted and mixed-breed fur babies might find valuable — and some can also provide more insight into a dog’s health and screen for hereditary diseases. Similar to human DNA tests, many dog DNA tests also provide ancestry and share family tree information for a pup, as well as connect owners with their nearby relatives. Dog DNA tests can also prove to be invaluable to purebred owners, as they can share insight on inbreeding levels and important health factors, empowering dog parents to take a more informative approach to their dog’s health. With this information in mind, we spoke with veterinary and DNA testing experts and conducted our own testing to determine how to pick the right dog DNA test.
Read on for PEOPLE’s top picks for the best dog DNA tests for breed verification, health markers, inbreeding levels, and more.
Best Overall: Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Collection Kit
Registering your dog in the profile system, collecting the sample, and mailing it out is super easy
The test does a thorough breakdown of breeds, complete with percentages
It goes a step further by breaking down potential health concerns (though we recognize that this should not be treated as a diagnosis)
Instead of a swab, the tool collection tool was a spoolie-like bristled brush, which some dogs might not like
Not as great for purebred dogs since this test focuses more on different breed identification
Overall, the best dog DNA test is the Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Collection Kit. Ideal for pet owners looking for comprehensive breed identification, this test checks your dog’s DNA against a database of over 350 breeds and reports results down to 1 percent, making it one of the most accurate dog DNA tests available. After testing out this DNA test, we found that it was not only easy to collect samples (though, we wish that the tool used to collect was a cotton swab instead of a spoolie-like brush, which our dog didn’t enjoy) and mail off, but we also received results much faster than the expected two to three weeks.
In addition to its accuracy and ease of use, we love that the Wisdom Panel test also looks at ancestry and other important factors, including potential health complications and possible allergic reactions to medicines, which, while not a diagnosis, is still helpful to know and then ask our vet about. On top of that, it is licensed to provide an MDR1 mediation sensitivity test, which can tell you whether or not your dog might experience extreme reactions to common drugs. The breed identification test also provides valuable insight into the ideal weight range for a dog, based on their DNA results, which can contribute to their overall health and help owners maintain their pup’s weight at a level that is more accurate and suitable to them.
Price at time of publish: $74.99 (orig. $99.99)
Result delivery: Around 3 weeks, although it arrived sooner for us | Breeds in database: 350+
Best Budget: Wisdom Panel Breed Discovery Dog DNA Collection Kit
Despite costing around $80, the test doesn’t skimp on quality
The kit and website database is super user-friendly, making it possible to get a successful sample collection and accurate results
Wisdom breaks down the breed identification into percentages, providing thorough insight into a dog’s genetic makeup
While this kit might be budget-friendly up front, some of the deeper insights are locked behind a paywall — so this is a better choice for anyone who is just needing the essential data
Dog DNA tests aren’t exactly cheap, especially if you want a high-quality and accurate one; however, you can still find ones at more cost-effective price points. The most affordable dog DNA test worth buying is the Wisdom Panel Breed Discovery Identification DNA Test for Dogs. With a database of over 350 breeds, this kit breaks down a dog’s genetic makeup in precise percentages, which we loved. Additionally, the kit was super easy to use for sample collection and the website was user-friendly as well. While we love that the kit also tests for medical sensitivities (including the MDR1 test), we found that some of the deeper insights found in the results get locked behind a paywall, so if you want to save on a kit, it means that you won’t get as much extra insight beyond breed identification and some medical insights. Nonetheless, we were impressed by the overall accuracy of the test and the low cost for the more common data you may be searching for.
Price at time of publish: $79.99 (orig. $84.99)
Result delivery: 2 to 3 weeks | Breeds in database: 350+
Best Investment: Embark Dog DNA Test Breed & Health Kit
The instructions were clear and the account set-up was simple
It tests for over 230 health risks and provides actionable insights based on the findings
The results show not only dog breed and health information, but also connect you with nearby relatives
It is nearly double the cost of other DNA tests, however, we found that it was worth the investment considering how extensive the breed and health risk database is
If you want a lot of insight on your dog’s DNA and don’t mind splurging a little more for a dog DNA test, we recommend the Embark Dog DNA Breed & Health Test Kit. Albeit a little pricey compared to other tests, we found this to be well worth the investment, especially since it provides such extensive information on a dog’s genetic and health history. With a database of over 350 breeds and 230 health risks, the test kit looks not only at what breeds make up your precious pooch but also lets you know if they are at risk of anything health-wise. In addition to breed and health information, the results also show physical traits and can connect you with family matches, too. This test is an excellent way to understand your dog better and gain insight and knowledge of what they are made of so you can be better prepared for their care and future.
Price at time of publish: $159 (orig. $199)
Result delivery: 2 to 3 weeks | Breeds in database: 350+
Best for Mixed Breeds: Embark DNA Test Breed Identification Kit
It’s very easy to collect a sample and the kit comes ready to use
You get exactly what is advertised, which means no surprises or let downs
We didn’t get information on our dog’s age, which we would have liked (although this was expected)
The test does not include more extensive information, including behavioral traits
Dog owners with mixed breed companions are likely most intrigued by DNA tests, as the results can give them answers about their dog’s heritage, ancestry, and more. After testing dog DNA tests, we found that the best option for mixed breeds (after our best overall, the Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Collection Kit) is the Embark Breed Identification Kit. The kit comes ready to use with a cotton swab that makes collecting a sample and mailing it back to the company a total breeze. Plus, the company has a database of over 350 breeds, providing plenty of data to determine what your dog is mixed with. As a research partner of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, this Embark DNA test is able to provide a user-friendly experience to dog owners with clear insights on what the genetic makeup of your dog is. While there weren’t a ton of details provided (including our dog’s age and more extensive information like behavior), we appreciated all of the great insight on the different breeds, which helped us understand our pup a little better.
Price at time of publish: $109 (orig. $129)
Result delivery: 2 to 4 weeks | Breeds in database: 350+
Best for Purebreds: Embark DNA Test for Purebred Dogs Ancestry & Health
The company has excellent attention to detail and the sample collection instructions were very clear and color coordinated
If your dog is a purebred, the company gives you a certificate stating so.
While the results took a little longer than expected (about four and a half weeks), we received lots of updates and notifications at every step of the testing period
While the company connected us to family members, the relationships weren't super clear
The test results had some discrepancies around coat colors, markings, and build
If your dog is a purebred, you likely already have a good idea of what their breed results will be. However, if you’re looking for breed verification, a DNA test is a great idea. For the best dog DNA test for purebreds, we recommend the Embark Purebred DNA Test because, in addition to verifying breeds, the test also looks at other important factors for purebred dogs, including genetic health risks, ancestry, physical traits, and inbreeding levels. We also like that, in addition to its vast breed database, the company also tests for over 215 genetic health risks (such as MDRI drug sensitivity and glaucoma) to determine whether or not a dog is at risk or a carrier of a genetic disease. The test also looks at genetic diversity, which can indicate levels of inbreeding and give owners the insight necessary to take a more informed approach to their dog’s health.
Through Embark’s ancestry results, owners can also match their dogs with relatives and connect with those nearby, similar to human DNA tests, allowing pups to meet and bond with their family members. That being said, there is a bit of a flaw to this feature as we received ancestry results that noted relatives who could either be siblings or cousins, so it wasn’t very clear. Additionally, the test results we received didn’t have super accurate results for physical traits, including coat color, markings, and build. Overall, however, the test boasts excellent attention to detail with clear sample collection instructions. And, if your dog is in fact a purebred, the company sends you a certification.
Price at time of publish: $159
Result delivery: 2 to 4 weeks | Genetic health risks tested: 215+
Best for Age: Embark Dog Age Test
Using DNA Methylation, this test provides extensive insight into how age is tested and calculated, which gave us more confidence in the results
Test results provide age in years and months and can even estimate a dog's birthday
There is no other information on dog breeds, health, ancestry, or physical traits
Takes longer to get back than other DNA kits we tested
If you have a rescue dog or aren’t sure when your pup’s actual birthday is, the Embark Dog Age Test can help you gain insights, which can be helpful for their overall health and well-being (especially as they get older). After testing the Embark Dog Age Test, we were incredibly impressed by how extensive these test results are. Despite not providing any additional insight on breeds, health, ancestry, or physical traits, the Dog Age Test gave us thorough and thoughtful results, sharing that insights from over 100 breeds and mixes were used to help determine our dog’s age. The company uses DNA Methylation to identify biomarkers of aging within a dog and narrow down not only a pup’s age in years and months but an actual birthday, too.
Price at time of publish: $159
Result delivery: Within 8 weeks | Breeds in database: 100+ breeds and mixes
Best for Health Screening: Dognomics Dog DNA Test Kit
Kit provides extensive information on dog breeds, including insights on shedding and appetite
Offers lots of insight into your dog's behavior traits based on their breed(s)
Test results showcase health markers and potential risks, which you can then share with your vet for further evaluation
Over 200,000 DNA makers are tested
You have to swab your dog's mouth for 60 seconds, which may be tricky for some
While dog DNA kits receive a lot of buzz for their ability to detect breeds, you can also use them to gain insights on your dog’s health (though, it is recommended to take this information to a vet and seek the insight of a professional based on your results). If you’re looking for a health screening test, we recommend the Dognomics Dog DNA Test Kit, which tests over 200,000 DNA markers and provides comprehensive insights on health markers and potential health risks, based on personal test results. Upon testing, we were ultimately pleased with the results and found all of the health information fascinating and helpful. Additionally, we were impressed by the extensive information on dog breeds, which includes insights on shedding and appetite, as well as all of the behavioral data, which tells you not only certain behavioral traits of different breeds, but also how they all connect into one mixed breed.
Price at time of publish: $127 (orig. $147)
Result delivery: Around 2 weeks | DNA Markers: 200,000+
Things to Consider Before Buying Dog DNA Tests
One of the most important things about a DNA test is accuracy, otherwise, there’s just no point in spending the money on it. When shopping for a dog DNA test, consider what factors into a test’s accuracy. For example, the Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Collection Kit has over 350 breeds in its database — which is a key aspect of DNA test accuracy — and can report breed mixes down to 1 percent. Embark Breed Identification Kit also has a large database of 350 dog breeds, which helps ensure it provides accurate results as well.
Purebred vs. Mixed Breeds
Dog owners with mixed breeds might be more inclined to test their dog’s genetics in order to learn what their pet’s breeds are. However, purebred owners can also benefit from doggie DNA tests as those specifically created for purebred pups can not only validate purebred status but also share more insight into genetic markers, including potential hereditary diseases. While those with purebred dogs could technically use most of the popular dog DNA tests, one that is specifically dedicated to purebreds — like the Embark Purebred DNA Test — is highly encouraged as it provides more value with more of a health focus.
For the most part, dog DNA test kits can take up to three weeks to get results back. However, some kits have faster and longer result timeframes. If result time is important to you, be sure to look out for information on how long it takes for DNA results, as this could potentially save you frustration and give you a clear expectation during the process. The Embark Breed Identification Kit takes around 2 to 4 weeks for results, while the Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Collection Kit takes a more standard 3 weeks for results. The Embark Dog Age Test, however, can take up to 8 weeks to process results.
Health Markers, Personality Traits, and Ancestry
While the purpose of dog DNA tests is typically to identify dog breeds, many kits come with additional features, such as health markers, personality traits, and ancestry. If these features are of interest, consider purchasing a kit with additional perks. The Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Collection Kit is an excellent choice for those who want to know more about their pet’s ancestry, potential medical complications, and potential aversions to medications. With a focus on purebreds, the Embark Purebred DNA Test tests for ancestry, breed validation, and health markers, and also looks at genetic diversity, providing more insight into a dog’s level of inbreeding.
How We Tested
Before testing dog DNA tests, our PEOPLE Tested team first interviewed veterinarian Jenna Stregowski of Daily Paws to help outline our methodology. With that information in hand, we set out to test 12 different dog DNA tests to see how they performed against these four attributes: ease of use, comprehensiveness, result time delivery, and value. First, we read the instructions specific to each DNA test we were evaluating to see if they were easy to follow and how detailed the brand gets about their testing process. We then registered our pets online and downloaded apps where applicable.
After submitting our dogs' DNA samples using the instructions provided, we waited for the results; once delivered, we noted how long it took to receive the results and the genetic insights they provided, plus any other additional features such as the dogs’ family tree and breed identification. After all dog DNA tests were evaluated fully, we rated each kit on a scale of 1 to 5 against each testing attribute. The dog DNA kits that received the highest averages earned a spot on this PEOPLE Tested list.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are dog DNA tests worth it?
Dog DNA testing can provide a wealth of incredible information on a dog’s breed(s) and other genetic information and is definitely worth it if you’re wanting to find certain information out about your dog. It’s worth noting, however, that Dr. Takiguchi says they are not 100 percent accurate, though some are more accurate than others. “Do your research and choose a reputable product, or ask your veterinarian for a product recommendation before purchasing a test kit,” she advises. The reason not all tests have the same accuracy comes down to differences in technology and reference databases used, says Annette Louviere, a data and veterinary genetics manager at Wisdom Panel. She explains that other factors like laboratory quality control guidelines can also play a role in the accuracy of a test and might be the reason why not every company will foster the same results.
Can a vet do a dog DNA test?
A veterinarian can definitely do a dog DNA test, however, Dr. Takiguchi says it can be done by a pet owner, too. “Some veterinarians prefer to submit a blood sample for assurance that large amounts of DNA are present,” she explains, adding that the blood sample process is not harmful to dogs.
Can a DNA test show inbreeding?
Some DNA tests — such as the Embark Purebred DNA Test — can show indications of inbreeding through a test called genetic diversity (aka, heterozygosity). According to Louviere, this is “a measure of commonality within a range of inherited genes from each side of the family.” Although it won’t exclusively provide inbreeding levels, measuring for genetic diversity can provide an indication of inbreeding levels in an individual dog. “A high genetic diversity score indicates a wide variety of different traits, while a low score indicates a lesser variety,” Louviere explains.
How long does a dog DNA test typically take?
The process of conducting a dog DNA test is quick for dog owners, as it typically involves a mouth swipe using a cotton swab. Once the lab receives the swab, technicians start the process of extracting DNA by matching the chromosomal patterns of a dog’s DNA to a breed database, using a computer algorithm. “It can take up to six weeks or more to get the results back, depending on the service,” says Dr. Takiguchi. While most brands claim faster results, it’s best to keep in mind potential delays.
Why Trust Us?
Jessie Quinn is a contributing commerce writer for PEOPLE and has written for publications such as Byrdie, InStyle, The Spruce, NYLON, and more. (She's also a proud pug mom.) When researching the best dog DNA tests, Jessie spoke with Dr. Amanda Takiguchi, a veterinarian and founder of Trending Breeds, which is dedicated to tips and guidance on various dog breeds, including purebreds and mixed breeds, and Annette Louviere, a data and veterinary genetics manager at Wisdom Panel, for their expert insights and tips. She also looked at our PEOPLE Tested insights as well as the breed databases to gain better insight into the accuracy of tests, additional features like health markers, ancestry, and inbreeding levels, and how quickly results are delivered.
What Is PEOPLE Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.