How to Obtain a Dog DNA Cheek Swab Sample

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how to get a dna sample from dog

So you’ve ordered your dog breed identifier kit and are ready to collect your dog’s DNA to send off to the lab for testing! While your kit should explain how to get a DNA sample from your dog, you might want a more thorough explanation.

If you’re a visual learner, check out this instructional video for collecting a dog DNA sample via cheek swab. The details may change depending on your test kit, however, take special note on how the instructor obtains the DNA sample, as this approach will be consistent across testing kits.

Collecting a DNA Sample FAQ

How do I  collect a good DNA sample from my dog’s mouth?

1. Inspect your dog’s mouth to make sure there is no food debris between the cheek and gums

2. Open the swab package and peel back the edges –  avoid touching the bristles

3. Firmly roll the swab bristles against the inside of your dog’s cheek.

4. Let the sample dry for 5 minutes before putting the swab back into the sleeve.

 How long do I have to wait after my dog has eaten or drank before I can swab his/her mouth?

You should wait approximately 2 hours after your dog has a meal or treats before trying to collect a DNA sample. Water is fine.

How do I dry the cheek swab sample without contaminating it?

As long as you leave your swab to dry in a clean, isolated area, it should be fine. Contamination only occurs when the swab comes into contact with people, other dogs, or dirty surfaces. The bristles should dry in the air and should not come into contact with any surfaces. After the swabs (in most cases you’ll collect two samples) air dry for 5 minutes, put the swabs back into the protective sleeves so that the swab bristles are covered.

Although the bristles should be completely covered, do not reseal the sleeve. Resealing the sleeve can results in bacteria or fungus growth. Ship the swab DNA samples as soon as possible.

How do I know that my swab has enough DNA on it?

Your dog’s cheek cells probably won’t be visible on the swabs. Simply follow the instructions, rubbing the swab against the inside of your dog’s cheek for around 15 secs. There should be plenty of cheek cells transferred to the swab in the process, as long as it’s performed correctly.

How long can I leave the DNA sample swabs out before they come compromised?

Place the swabs back into their sleeves as soon as the swabs have dried. The swabs should only need 5 minutes to dry – after that, return them to their packaging. If you leave the swabs out longer than the recommended 5 minutes, the swabs won’t necessarily be damaged, but leaving them out longer can increase your chance of contamination. Again, remember that the sleeves should not be sealed – just make sure the bristles are fully covered.

What if I have multiple dogs in my home?

In order to collect the best swab sample of your dog, make sure that your dog does not share food or water bowls with any other dogs for at least 2 hours before collecting a DNA sample.

Learn More About Dog DNA Testing