While owners sometimes wonder about the accuracy of dog DNA testing, usually dog DNA test results are quite accurate, assuming you are using a trusted dog breed identifier test kit.
Many owners express shock and disbelief about their dog DNA ancestry test results. It can often be difficult for owners to discover that their preconceived notions about their dog’s genetic background are incorrect.
In this article, we’ll show how dog DNA tests commit to accuracy and dispel some common myths associated with dog genetics and ancestry.
What Affects Dog DNA Test Accuracy?
There are a number of factors that can affect the accuracy of a dog breed test, including:
1. Sample Provided By Owners
The majority of dog DNA kits rely on a cheek swab DNA sample to test for a dog’s breed ancestry. Owners must obtain a cheek swab DNA sample and send it into the lab, which analyzes and reports the results.
While this at-home sample collecting is easy and convenient for customers, it also means that the quality of the DNA sample cannot always be guaranteed.
Accuracy of the dog DNA test can vary depending on sample collected by the owner. This is why it is very important to follow the instructions included in dog DNA testing kits carefully.
2. Number of Genetic Markers
Genetic markers are places of variation within a dog’s genetic structure that clue researchers in to your dog’s breed composition. Studying the similarities and differences in these genetic markers among breeds helps identify characteristic signatures.
This means that dog DNA test kits with more genetic markers tend to be more accurate than test kits with fewer genetic markers. Wisdom Panel Premium and Embark both use thousands of genetic markers to ensure reliable breed accuracy.
3. Number & Types of Dogs
The number of breeds in a dog DNA test lab’s database also affects accuracy. The more breeds within the DNA database, the better the test’s accuracy. The biggest names in dog DNA testing use large breed databases containing over 350 breeds, including detection for wolf, coyote, and even “village dogs”.
4. Confirming Test Accuracy
Dog DNA test accuracy can be assessed by testing the findings repeatedly through objective 3rd party specialists and geneticists.
Common Myths Associated With Dog DNA Testing
Although the reliability of these testing kits are usually quite solid, some owners still question the dog DNA test’s validity due to common myths associated with dog genetics and breeding.
Myth #1: My Dog Doesn’t Look Like That Breed, So The Test Must Be Wrong
Some owners question the accuracy of their dog DNA test results when their dog looks nothing like the breed that was assigned to them from the dog breed identifier test.
“How can my dog have Chihuahua? He looks nothing like a Chihuahua!”
The truth is that visual identification of breeds is often inaccurate. Recent studies have shown that visual identification of breeds in dogs is only accurate about 25% of the time!
Just as a child can look more like their grandparents than their parents, dogs can have visual attributes of breeds that don’t necessarily correlate with their closest relatives.
It’s also important to remember that some breeds have physical characteristics that exist mostly as recessive traits (such as the Yorkshire Terrier).
Although a mixed breed dog may have Yorkshire Terrier genealogy, the dog may still end up looking physically like a different breed, even if that different breed makes up only a small percentage of the dog’s DNA.
On the other hand, some dog breeds have traits that are more dominant, so your dog could end up looking a lot like an Irish Wolfhound, while actually have a genetic makeup more similar to a different breed.
The Embark Breed + Health Dog DNA Test provides info on your dog’s dominant and recessive physical trait, illuminating trait details regarding your dog’s coat color, coat length, tail shape, ear shape, and more!
Just remember – what a dog “looks” like is not always representative of the breeds that are present in the dog’s genetic makeup.
Myth #2: The Vets Told Me My Dog What This Breed, So It Must Be True
Many owners will say that they took their dog in to see a vet, and the veterinarian said that their dog was probably a Labrador or German Shepherd. Since the vet is an expert, they must be correct – right?
Well, not exactly. Vets will often make assumptions about a dog’s ancestry based on a dog’s physical appearance. As we mentioned earlier – visual dog breed identification is only accurate 25% of the time, even when done by experts!
Your vet can guess at your dog’s breed by looking at his physical appearance, but that’s only one small aspect of your dog’s personality. Your vet does not have access to your dog’s DNA information, or your dog’s behavioral quirks and habits, which can say a lot about a dog’s possible breed heritage too!
Myth #3: I Have Papers From a Breeder Showing My Dog is a Purebred, So the DNA Test Must Be Wrong
Some owners are confident that if their breeder said that their dog was a purebred, it must be true. Sad to say, not all breeders are truthful about the ancestry of their dogs.
Which Dog DNA Tests Are the Most Accurate?
If you’re looking for a dog DNA test you can trust to be accurate, we suggest going with Embark Breed + Health DNA Test Kit.
Embark is one dog breed identifier test that does their best to ensure accuracy. They have done this by:
- Using over 20,000 most revealing genetic markers to evaluate DNA
- Testing for over +350 different dog breeds and variations
- Conducting tests in a USDA accredited laboratory to guarantee quality control
- Testing many dogs multiple times, resulting in an average repeatability over 99%
Dog DNA Test Accuracy FAQ
How accurate are dog DNA tests?
Dog DNA tests tend to be fairly accurate, although the quality of accuracy can vary depending on the tools used to asses dog genealogy and the sophistication of the laboratory used.
The number of breeds in a DNA company’s database, as well as the number of genetic markets they use, usually have a significant influence over how accurate the tests are.
What dog DNA test is most accurate?
Embark and Wisdom Panel are the two most accurate dog DNA test kits available on the market. Both use a huge number of genetic markers and have a large breed database with 350 dog breeds.
Do dog DNA tests test for age?
Some dog DNA tests offer a rough age assessment (for example, Embark will tell you your dog’s estimated life-stage, such as “mature adult”).
For a more accurate age estimation, you may need a separate age test kit.