There are several different dog DNA tests on the market, but which is the best dog discovering your furry friend’s ancestry?
We will be objectively be reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of each dog DNA test kit on the market, with customer reviews used to help determine which dog DNA test kit is best suited for your needs.
When it comes to canine DNA tests, there are really only two legitimate options: Wisdom Panel or Embark.
In this guide, we’ll detail Wisdom Panel and Embark, as well as several other dog DNA test options available to owners (although as we’ll explain below, we don’t consider them valid contenders in the dog DNA competition).
1. Embark Breed & Health DNA Test Kit
Embark is a top-tier dog DNA test that displays its reports in a unique app format, giving you 24/7 access to your dog’s genetic health.
Owners who have used Embark, Wisdom Panel, and other dog DNA offerings note that Embark is heads and tails the best when it comes to the depth of analysis and information provided.
Where most dog DNA tests provide just a brief analysis of your dog’s breed composition, ancestry, and behavioral traits, Embark delivers heaps of information on all aspects of your canine companion!
Embark offers a wealth of features and benefits you won’t find with any other test, including:
- Research-grade data, partnered with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
- Get genetic info on 35+ physical traits, such as POMC, the ‘always-hungry’ gene.
PROS: Embark offers heaps of impressive features and the pride they take in their scientific methods and research really shows.
This dog DNA test truly goes the extra mile to provide owners with deep and valuable data about their dog’s genetics that simply isn’t found in any other canine DNA test kits.
CONS: The only downside to Embark is the price. At around $200, it’s more than 2x the cost of out #2 pick (which you’ll see below).
Embark also takes longer to deliver results, requiring as much as five weeks.
2. Embark Breed Identification DNA Test Kit
Embark’s Breed Identification test is their budget-friendly alternative to the full Breed + Health Kit listed above. This lower-priced option will only provide your dog’s breed info — you won’t get any of the health screenings provided in the full Breed + Health Kit.
But, if you’re primarily doing the test just out of curiosity to learn about your dog’s breed, this is a solid option.
You’ll still get access to Embark’s relative finder tool, and you can always opt to upgrade to the health panel access later on without doing a new test (since Embark already has your dog’s DNA, they’ll just add the health tests when you choose to unlock that option).
With the Embark Breed Identification Test, you get:
- Breed breakdown and confirmation, testing for over 350 breeds, types, and varieties.
- Meet your dog’s great-grandparents. Embark’s genetic analysis can reveal most dogs’ breed mix going back to your pup’s great-grandparents.
- Ancestry and geographic origin information. Embark can actually identify the routes and movement that distant canine ancestors took around the world before your pup arrived at your door.
- Access to Embark’s relative finder. See how much DNA your dog shares with others in Embark’s database — you can even reach out and say “hi” to your dog’s cousins and siblings!
PROS: Embarks’ Breed Identification Kit is an affordable way to access all the awesome tech Embark has at its disposal if all you really care about is finding out what breeds your dog is. We also like that you can always pay to upgrade and get access to health screenings too in the future, if you choose.
CONS: Obviously it’s always preferable to access health screenings and breed ancestry info. But for the budget-conscious, this is a good option.
3. Wisdom Panel Premium
Wisdom Panel Premium
Mars Veterinary's premium dog DNA test kit, featuring an in-depth breed analysis that screens for over 350 breeds, along with health insights that test your dog for a variety of genetic health conditions.
Explore your dog's physical traits, test for medication sensitivities, and even meet your dog's canine relatives within the vast Mars Veterinary database.
Wisdom Panel Premium is the latest in Wisdom Panel’s line of dog DNA tests. Wisdom Panel is our #2 pick when it comes to the best dog DNA tests.
Wisdom Panel Premium is Wisdom Panel’s most advanced DNA test kit option, screening your pup for over 350 breeds and testing for 210 genetic health conditions. This kit also tests for over 35 physical traits like coat color!
With Wisdom Panel Premium, you’ll also get access to:
- Screens for 350+ breeds. Test your dog’s breed ancestry against 350+ dog breeds in Wisdom Panel’s extensive breed database.
- Test for 210 genetic health conditions
- Find your dog’s relatives. 99.9% of the dogs tested match with a canine relative! You’ll be able to see photos and compare DNA results with your pup’s cousins and siblings!
- Test for 35+ physical traits. Get info about why your dog looks like he does, with tests for coat color, tail shape, and more.
- Discuss health findings with a vet. See something concerning? You can jump on a (free) call with Wisdom Panel’s licensed vets to discuss next steps.
- Test for medication sensitivities. Get the Multi-Drug Sensitivity (MDR1) test to evaluate your dog’s potential drug sensitivities.
- Trace your dog’s family tree back 3 generations. Meet your pup’s great-grandparents!
PROS: Except for just a few genetic health condition tests, Wisdom Panel Premium is basically on par with Embark’s Breed + Health Kit. It provides very accurate, reliable breed info along with over 200 genetic health screenings. It also tends to be a bit less expensive than Embark!
CONS: I find that the design and UI of Embark beat out Wisdom Panel, but only ever so slightly. There really isn’t much bad to say about Wisdom Panel Premium — it offers tons of doggie data, and the company has been around forever.
4. Wisdom Panel Essential
A more affordable kit, Wisdom Panel Essential offers an in-depth breed assessment as well as some basic genetic health screenings.
Wisdom Panel Essential is Wisdom Panel’s more budget-friendly dog DNA test option. With Wisdom Panel Essential, you’ll get access to a full in-depth breed report as well as some important genetic health tests — just not the entire slew of 210 genetic conditions the Premium option provides.
You’ll get access to:
- Screens for 350+ breeds
- Test for 25+ genetic health conditions
- Dog relative-finder
- Test for 35+ physical traits
PROS: Wisdom Panel provides plenty of info that will please most owners. It offers some handy data on your dog’s predicted adult size and weight, as well as a nice summary or your dog’s ancestral breeds and background. You’ll also get the MDR1 and EIC genetic tests for two diseases that can be quite harmful if not detected and treated, along with tests for other genetic health conditions.
CONS: Not as many genetic tests as the premium Wisdom Panel option.
5. Wisdom Panel Breed Discovery
Wisdom Panel's most affordable option, providing just breed ancestry info and one genetic health screening for those who primarily just want to know about their dog's breeds!
The Wisdom Panel Breed Discover kit is for owners who just want to know their dog’s breeds and not much else. It does still provide a genetic test for medical sensitivities (the MDR1 test), but that’s it.
With the Wisdom Panel Breed Discovery, you get:
- Screen for 350+ breeds
- Test for medication sensitivities (MDR1 test)
- Find your dog’s relatives
- Trace their family tree back 3 generations
PROS: The Discovery kit is ideal for owners who don’t want to spend a lot of money on getting their dog genetically screened. If all you’re interested in is your dog’s breed ancestry, this is a great pick.
CONS: Since the pricing isn’t all that different between this and the “Essential” option, you might consider just paying a bit extra for the additional genetic screening options.
6. DNA My DOG
DNA My Dog is a canine breed identification test where your dog’s breed ancestry is evaluated following a simple cheek swab test.
After submitting your dog’s DNA sample, you’ll wait two weeks for processing and then receive a report showing all breeds found in your dog’s DNA divided by percentages.
DNA My Dog breaks down your dog’s ancestry into levels. Level 1 is when a dog’s DNA shows a majority of a specific breed – in this case, 75% or more. This isn’t common to find in mixed breeds unless one of your mutt’s parents was a purebred.
Level 2 involves breeds that should, in theory, be easily recognized in your dog. These are breeds that strongly influence your pup, but each breed still makes up less than the majority of your dog’s DNA makeup.
Lastly, levels 3-5 involve breeds that are present in your dog’s genetic makeup, but have the least amount of influence. These breeds can makeup anywhere from 36% – 5% of your dog’s DNA (with 36% being closer to level 3, and 5% being closer to level 5).
The report will also show an outline of general health concerns and personality traits for the main breeds detected in your dog’s DNA. Understand that these are not genetic tests that are being run for various diseases on your dog’s specific DNA – it’s simply a list of general illnesses or issues associated with certain breeds linked to your dog.
Owners will also receive a custom certificate, featuring a photo and gold embossing detailing your dog’s breed profile.
PROS: We don’t have many good things to say about DNA My Dog. Still, despite lackluster reporting, plenty of users do still tend to be pleased with their results from DNA My Dog.
CONS: DNA My Dog is fine for a bit of fun, but anything more than that and it really falls flat. The breeds are broken down into very broad categories, and many users wished to see more breed specifics. Nearly all users who tried DNA My Dog against similar services like Wisdom Panel or Embark much preferred the latter options over DNA My Dog. Some users also report waiting over a month for their results, despite DNA My Dog advertising only two weeks to receive results.
Users who tried DNA My Dog and Wisdom Panel much preferred Wisdom Panel’s DNA test.
DNA My Dog also gives a wide range of breeds in their results – some users suspect they do this so that owners can pick and choose which breeds they like the idea of.
Some users believe that since DNA My Dog requires a photo of your pet when conducting their DNA test, they use visual clues to help evaluate breeds rather than relying on the validity of their DNA test alone. This does not seem to be the case – we talked with DNA My Dog and they confirmed that you don’t even need a photo of your dog to do the test.
We really don’t recommend DNA My Dog. Their business practices seem questionable, and there are plenty of other more reliable DNA tests on the market.
Consider purchasing Wisdom Panel Premium or Wisdom Panel Essential instead, which both offer physical trait testing and additional health condition screenings.
7. DNA Affirm Caine Breed Identification
DNAAffirm is another company that provides a dog DNA evaluation through their Canine Breed Identification kit.
As with other offerings, owners simply use a cheek swab to collect a DNA sample from their canine before sending the sample to DNAAffirm’s lab with the included self-addressed envelope.
- Custom photo certificate of your dog’s breed composition.
- Shows your dog’s dominant breeds, potential health concerns associated with given breeds, and personality traits owners can look out for.
- Results arrive in approximately 2 weeks
PROS: We don’t have anything good to say about DNAAffirm, but it does seem that at least some unwary owners have fun and are happy with their results.
CONS: Since DNAAffirm seems to be the same company as DNA My Dog, they tend to have the same issues. Owners are not happy with this company’s unethical results, as they seem to tailor results based on what they believe owners will want to hear.
Despite being under a totally separate listing, users report that this DNA test kit from DNAAffirm is the same as DNA My Dog.
Similar to experiences associated with DNA My Dog, owners report different results depending on if they included a photo in their submission or not. This seems to imply that DNAAffirm does indeed change results based on the appearance of the dog, rather than relying on the validity of their DNA test.
We can’t recommend DNAAffirm due to their shady business practices. If you just want affordable breed info, go with Wisdom Panel Essential or Embark Breed Identification Kit instead.
Which Dog DNA Test is Best?
Our evaluation is that there are really only two dog DNA tests worth considering – and they’re both good choices for different reasons.
Let’s start with which test you should NOT buy. DNA My Dog and DNAAffirm are unreliable and have been accused by users of manipulating results. They also seem to be the same company going under two different names to deceive owners. Avoid these tests for sure!
Really, your main question should be – do I want Wisdom Panel or Embark?
Wisdom Panel vs. Embark: Which Should I Choose?
We actually have an entire guide answering this very question, so we recommend reading that if you’re really torn. However, we’ll give you a summary here.
Wisdom Panel is a great, reliable dog DNA test that offers a solid selection of health screenings and breed ancestry back to your dog’s great grandparents. Wisdom Panel is affordable and fast – it only takes two weeks to get results back to you.
Embark offers everything Wisdom Panel does, plus a bit more. Owners who have used both report that Embark beats Wisdom Panel in the depth of analysis covered – you’ll get some additional genetic tests, as well as more advanced details such your dog’s ancestor’s migration patterns.
Why Embark is the best (in our opinion)
While some features like Embark’s great-grandparent ancestry, genetic health screenings, and even their relative-finder can be found in different dog DNA tests, other features offered by Embark are totally unique.
No other dog DNA tests offers the ability to view your canine ancestor’s migration patterns, or have such a sleek, streamlined interface for viewing your dog’s DNA data and getting help.
Embark also provides unusually deep data on your dog – including suggested grooming rituals and training strategies that will best suit your dog’s unique mix of breed instincts. They also use more genetic markers than anyone else, resulting in better accuracy and reliable results (they also manually test any questionable or unusual results by hand, so they’re definitely double-checking their work).
To top it all off, Embark offers free updates for life. This means that whenever the Embark team creates a new test or discovers new insights based on their ongoing research into canine genetics, the new test will be added directly to your panel. You’ll never have to pay for new features brought on by fresh research – you’ll get them automatically! That’s pretty incredible.
In the end, we suggest going with Embark if you’re not in a hurry and don’t mind spending extra.