Embark Dog DNA Test Kit Review 2018

What Is It? Embark is a cutting-edge dog DNA test that promises more data and actionable insight into your canine’s breed, health, and ancestry than any other kit.

Price: $$$

Major Features:

  • Updates for Life. With Embark, you’ll get new test results for free! Embark regularly creates new canine genetic tests, and your dog’s profile will be updated with the results of new added tests, all for no charge! This isn’t always possible though – if you have an older version of the Embark kit, you won’t have the probes required for certain newer tests. In that case, you’ll need to buy a new version of Embark to get the probes needed.
  • Reports for Vets. Embark also provides detail reports designed for you to share with your veterinarian. These can help facilitate conversations between you and your vet, creating a team of canine health support.
  • Simple DNA Sample Collection. DNA samples are obtained via cheek swab collection, similar to other dog DNA tests.
  • 160 Tests. Embark runs 160 genetic tests on your canine, alerting you to a myriad of potential diseases such as Multi-Drug Sensitivity via the MDR1 gene, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), glaucoma, coagulopathy, and more.
  • Most Accurate As Possible. When it comes to accuracy, Embark takes the honor of top dog. They hire the best dog DNA scientists in the world to develop the technology they use. Embark uses over 200,000 genetic markers to evaluate your canine’s breed heritage (the next best is 2,000), and tests 256 quadrillion different possible genetic ancestry combinations for your canine.
  • Weight Prediction. Embark predicts the full expected size and weight of your pup, and for already adult dogs, helps owners evaluate if their dog is overweight or not (50% of dogs in America are overweight).
  • Unique Report Style. Embark delivers your dog’s DNA test results through an interactive guide, that can be viewed on desktop as well as mobile devices.
  • Contribute to Science. Shared insights about your dog’s DNA and ancestry help to improve scientific understanding and research, improving canine science for everyone!
  • Genetic Age. Embark is actually able to detect your dog’s genetic age, with is great for owners who have adopted their canines and are unsure of their dog’s calendar age. Embark can’t yet determine a dog’s calendar age from DNA, but your dog’s genetic age is a helpful reflection of where your dog is in his or her healthspan. Knowing your dog’s estimated genetic age allows you to pick out age-appropriate food, know when to conduct various health screenings, and understand when your dog is hitting his senior stride.
  • Verification. Embark puts your dog’s DNA results through additional verification steps to ensure quality and accuracy. Any questionable findings are hand-checked by canine DNA scientists.


Embark deliver significantly more dog DNA data than competitors, providing a rich and complex history of your dog’s ancestors and over 160 tests for health issues (most other kits may test for one or two health issues, if even that).

In addition, Embark surpasses all other dog DNA test kits when it comes to genetic markers, which means their testing is as accurate as scientifically possible.

Lastly, the unique reporting style, app integration, and ongoing updates regarding your canine’s health all put Embark a step ahead of the rest.


Embark is significantly more expensive than other dog DNA tests (over 2x more expensive than Wisdom Panel). That being said, it’s probably safe to say that you do get 2x more value and data on your dog compared against other dog DNA tests, so the price does adequately reflect value.

The only other disadvantage to Embark is the turn around time (3-7 weeks as compared to 2-3 weeks for other DNA test kits), so if you want results ASAP, this might not be the best kit for you.

See our video review covering what we’ve mentioned above, or continue reading for more details.

In-Depth Review

Let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest, ground-breaking aspects of Embark’s dog DNA test.

embark appWhat Makes Embark Different From Other Dog DNA Tests?

What sets Embark uniquely apart from other dog DNA test services is their comprehensive, all-in-one approach.

Plenty of dog DNA test services can provide glimpses into your dog’s breed ancestry and reveal a few potential health risks associated with certain breeds.

However, Embark doesn’t just dip a pinky into the water – they dive full in, going more in-depth and providing tons more data than other services. In addition, Embark uses the full weight of scientific research to be as thorough and accurate as possible.

They’re not doing anything new, but they are doing it better – much better.

Commitment to Improving Your Dog’s Healthspan

Embark focuses a lot of the dog DNA discussion on how to improve your dog’s “healthspan.” For Embark, the term “healthspan” correlates to whether or not your dog can perform the activities he enjoys – basically, your canine’s quality of life.

embark age quality graph

Your dog’s lifespan is how long they live until, but for many dogs, their healthspan deteriorates earlier.

Improving your dog’s healthspan ensures that your dog is able to romp on the beach and play fetch with the frisbee as long as they can.

As Embark notes, Americans spend, on average, over $400 in veterinary expenses each year, per dog. This can increase even more as a dog gets older and faces more health issues. Embark focuses on helping owners prepare for possible genetic health conditions and take preventive action that can allow owners to bypass costly treatments down the road.

Understanding the Rich Story of Your Dog’s Ancestry

Anyone who has taken a human ancestry test knows that being 15% French and 75% Irish, in and of itself, isn’t all that interesting.

What we really crave is the story that these numbers reveal – how did your ancestors from Paris get over to Canada? When did your great-grandmother migrate to Boston and meet your devilishly handsome Irish great-grandfather? What were their careers like? When did they marry? What did their families look like?

The narrative about our ancestors (and, as an extension, ourselves) is the real fascination revealed through ancestry.

Dogs are now coveted family members, sometimes adored even more than siblings (we won’t tell if you don’t). We want to know our four-legged friend’s backstory just as much as we want to know our own.

Yes, we love our mutts, and we don’t really need to know if their parents were labradors or bull mastiffs. We don’t need to know. But we want to know, because we love them. And when you love someone, you want to know absolutely everything about them!

embark dog ancestry tree

While traditional dog DNA tests give us the numbers and can provide some inspiration with regards to how our dog ended up in our family, Embark gives a real narrative – the kind that tells a rich, authentic story.

Embark creators spent years studying village dogs and their history, working with National Geographic and other scientific organizations, to study dogs across every continent and better understand the genetic diversity of canines around the globe.

Embark provides loads of context into the history of your dog’s ancestral breeds, explaining how your canine’s great-grandparents lived, where they probably migrated from, what kinds of humans they hung out with, and how your dog’s ancestors were domesticated.

Embark can even distinguish ancestral heritage by the maternal and paternal (Y chromosome) haplotypes – something few (if any) other dog DNA tests can do.


Tests for 160+ Health Conditions

Embark tests for over 160 health conditions and disorders, including a myriad of genetic diseases that can occur throughout your dog’s life, such as glaucoma, degenerative myelopathy, and dilated cardiomyopathy, three of the most common adult-onset diseases found in dogs. You can see the full list of diseases Embark tests for on their website.

Being able to catch these diseases early (or even simply know what to be on alert for, based on your dog’s genetic history) means owners can work with vets to start treatments earlier, take proactive preventive measures, and keep your canine living longer.

What’s even cooler is that Embark plans on continuously increasing the number of health conditions they test for as they conduct more research.

Despite this comprehensive health assessment, Embark is adamant about the fact that they do not provide medical diagnosis. While Embark’s dog DNA test can help alert you to potential health problems, you should always talk these concerns over with a veterinarian.


Better Dog Care

In addition to interesting breed ancestry discoveries and important health info, embark also reveals a ton of valuable data that will help you be a better owner for your dog.

  • Dog Training. Dog DNA testing can help unearth behavioral tendencies found in certain breeds, such a the genetic instinct to fetch, herd, or dog. Understanding these behaviors will allow you to train your dog more effectively and channel certain urges appropriately.
  • Grooming. Is your dog a heavy shedder? Will they need more grooming care than other dogs? Embark can help in this area as well.
  • Energy Level. Embark can also help you understand your dog’s natural energy level, ensuring that your pooch is getting the exercise he or she needs to stay happy and healthy.
  • Food & Nutrition. Finally, Embark can also help owners pick out the right dog food for their four-legged pal, making sure their dog is getting the perfect balance of nutrients unique to his or her needs.

150 Breeds, Plus Wolf, Coyote, & Village Dogs!


Embark boasts a database of over 150 breeds, covering coyote, wolf, and village dogs. Collectively, these breeds cover over 98% of dogs in America! Embark has the power to break down the exact breed composition of your canine and provide information on those breeds in a colorful, easy-to-understand format.


embark dog dna profile

While some other dog DNA tests do also test for coyote and wolf, Embark’s test for village dog ancestry is entirely unique and frankly, quite groundbreaking.

So what exactly is a village dog? Village dogs are the free-roaming dogs that are found living around human settlements all over the world. Think of them as the original working dogs, serving as trash cleaners, home security alarms, as well as companions.

Also known as island dogs or pariah dogs, these canines aren’t usually thought of as pets, but rather live on their own while practicing a mutually-beneficial partnership with humans. These relationships are similar to how dogs first began to be domesticated many thousands of years ago.

Village dogs make up 3/4s of the billion-ish dogs on the planet today! Village dog populations usually precede the formation of today’s modern breed dogs. Village dogs have remained largely un-identified, but since the Embark team has begun researching them, this insight is now accessible to owners!

Embark is the only dog DNA test that can test for village dogs and distinguish where village dogs come from – pretty impressive stuff!

Unbeatable Numbers

One of the most impressive aspects of Embark is the advanced technology they’ve put behind their dog DNA test. Embark uses a proprietary 220,000 DNA marker microarray technology, resulting in a remarkably detailed view or your dog’s genome.

They also:

  • Hire the top dog DNA scientists in the world
  • Test 256 quadrillion different possible genetic ancestry combinations
  • Use 200,000 genetic markers (vs. 2,000 or less by competitors)

What all this boils down to is the most in-depth, most scientifically accurate dog DNA evaluation possible, period. There’s no one else that even gets closer to these numbers – Embark is leading the pack.

Final Evaluation

So what should an owner looking to pick up a dog DNA test do?

Embark is significantly pricier than competitors, with price tag 2x higher than most other dog DNA kits on the market.

Despite the price difference, there’s no doubt you’re getting more for your buck (or bone) with Embark.

If you’re simply curious about your dog’s breed ancestry, then you’ll probably be quite satisfied with Wisdom Panel (and it’s worth noting that Wisdom Panel does test for a few health conditions, such as the Multi-Drug Sensitivity and Exercise Induced Collapse screening).

However, if you want the most comprehensive playbook for your pup, Embark is the way to go. You really get the full scientific force working in your favor with Embark, providing direct deliverables that will help your dog’s health and wellness. Plus of course, you’ll learn much more about your dog’s breed history than any other test can provide.

If you can dish out the money for Embark, it seems that it will an investment that lasts a lifetime, possibly even putting additional years onto your dog’s life through better health care.

Order Embark For Your Pup!

Will you try Embark for your pup? Why or why not? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Embark Review
  • Genealogy / Family Tree Data
  • Health Data
  • Breed Database
  • Price
  • Bonus Features & Extras


Embark provides deeper genealogy and heath data than any other dog DNA test on the market. It’s accuracy is unbeatable, with over 200,000 genetic markers and an extensive breed database that even catalogs wolves, coyotes, and village dogs!

Plus, it’s backed with unique bonus features we haven’t seen anywhere else, like lifetime updates, vet reports, and a downloadable app.

The price is steep, at over 2x as much as other dog breed DNA tests, but if you have the money to dish out, Embark is well worth it.

User Review
4.33 (3 votes)
Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
Kristen Larsen - April 29, 2017

I got results for my puppy from a different brand and 50% was not identified. I wonder if your test would be able to identify the specific breeds rather then just indicating the probability that my puppies mixed breed is terrier.

    Dog Breed Info - July 9, 2017

    Hi Kristein – we do not work with Embark, we simply review various dog DNA tests. Embark tends to be very well-liked though, so I am confident you’ll have more detail with their results. Good luck!

will pryor - July 14, 2017

Hello, I sent a message via the ebark website but not sure if it went along ok or not. My name is Will Pryor and I am the head animal care taker and staff biologist at the wolf mountain nature center located in upstate NY just about 1 hour from Cornell. We are a 501C3 non-profit wolf education center and we also have eastern coyotes and arctic foxes. We have a few rescue animals and also some very rare wolf lines here at the Center. Our staff is all 100% volunteer and we receive no grants, have zero corporate sponsors and exist only through a small admission donation for the public and we do all our own work, fencing, landscaping. You get what I am saying. Do you have any discounts or grants to assist a Center like ours. I look forward to having a chat. Thanks for your time.

ah ho


Yul Bean - January 27, 2018

Once I use Embark at that point can I rregister my dog?


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