The 4 Best Dog DNA Tests That Dig Into Breed, Health, and History
We know so much about our beloved furry friend: her favorite dog food brand, go-to squeaky toy, preferred pillow on the couch. And while we can go on about who she is and what she loves, there's a lot to uncover when we think about the oh-so-special genes that make our dog truly one of a kind.
The best dog DNA tests demystify just about everything we should know about our dogs to find out who they really are. (Spoiler alert: 100-percent good dog.) With a simple swab of their cheek, you can find out your dog's breed, health, and traits after it's been analyzed by a laboratory.
"DNA testing is very beneficial to learn what breed of dog that you have," says Sara Ochoa, DVM at Senior Tail Waggers. "This can help you know what disease(s) that your pet is predisposed to. You can then monitor them for these conditions and even start preventative measures to help prevent these issues."
If you're ready to learn what breeds make up your adorable pup or just want more information on their health, here are the best dog DNA tests in 2022, ranging from budget-friendly basics to in-depth kits.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Embark Dog DNA Test Breed & Health Kit ($159)
- Best for Mixed Breeds: Wisdom Panel Premium ($160)
- Best for Purebreds: Embark Dog DNA Test for Purebred Pets ($159)
- Best Budget: Wisdom Panel Breed Discovery ($80)
Best Overall: Embark Dog DNA Test Breed & Health Kit
Ochoa's top pick for best overall dog DNA test, this comprehensive test from Embark provides you with a whole new insight on your pup—from her breed and ancestry to genetic health risks and traits. It analyzes over 200,000 genetic markers and looks at over 350 breeds and 210 genetic health risks and traits to help you learn all about your pup's genetic makeup. You can even trace back your dog's ancestry and find her relatives if they've used the same test! Results are delivered two to four weeks after testing.
Best for Mixed Breeds: Wisdom Panel Premium
If you've always wondered what combination of breeds make up your adorable dog, this test will pinpoint her breed mix down to one percent with 98-percent accuracy. With over 20 years in the industry, Wisdom Panel has the largest database of dog DNA and screens for over 350 breeds, types, and varieties. "They will be able to detect some of the more rare breed types in these mixes," Ochoa says. The test screens for more than 200 genetic conditions and over 35 traits as well as 25+ medical complications, including medication sensitivities.
Best for Purebreds: Embark Dog DNA Test for Purebred Pets
This test captures 220,000 genetic markers (the most out of any DNA test!) and breaks your pup's results down into five categories: research, health, breed, traits, and relatives—and presents them in a specific way for purebred dogs. You'll learn everything from your dog's "wolfiness" (i.e. ancient genetic variants), genetic age, and any inherited conditions to their physical traits and behavior. Have questions about your results? Embark veterinarians and geneticists are there to help. It's highly encouraged to share your results with your vet so you can make a customized care plan for your furry friend.
Best Budget: Wisdom Panel Breed Discovery
If you're simply looking for your dog's breed without the additional health info, this is the option for you—and at ruff-ly half the cost of others! This DNA test screens for over 350 breeds with breed reporting down to 1 percent and results that are 98-percent accurate. This DNA kit also tests for medication sensitivities.
What To Look For
Learning all about your dog's breed, genetics, and even family members with a simple cheek swab? Is that even possible? Ochoa reminds us that "some of these tests may not be 100-percent accurate [and] with dogs who are very mixed, the test may be inconclusive."
When browsing tests, review the company's accuracy results and read reviews for reassurance. With something as complicated as DNA via cheek swab, it's best to keep in mind that it'll likely be at least 90-percent accurate but maybe not completely accurate considering various factors like the sample quality, testing method, quality control, etc.
Always follow the swabbing and handling directions from the company to ensure the most accurate results.
Because these are DNA tests you can use from the comfort of your home, there are some limitations associated with the type of test you're using, particularly when it comes to health. "While they can give you genetic markers for certain diseases, they cannot tell you if your dog will ever develop these issues," Ochoa says.
While they might be a little more expensive and don't come with an aesthetically pleasing breakdown like the at-home kits, your vet could be able to perform a DNA test in their office.
"There is blood testing that is a little more accurate than the cheek swab," she says. "Your vet will also be able to fully examine your dog to see if they detect any health issues on their exam that you should worry about."
If you do go with an at-home test, don't forget to share the results with your vet so you can come up with the best preventative care plan for your pup.