It’s no wonder that dog DNA tests are a popular gift item. If you’ve got a canine companion of indiscernible genetic lineage, you’ve probably often conjectured about what their makeup could be. After all, unless it’s obvious, the first question people ask when meeting your dog on a walk or at the park is usually, “What kind of dog is that?” Your veterinarian has probably given you their best guess, but sometimes appearances can be deceiving. For example, my husband adopted a supposed greyhound-pit mix many years ago. When we finally performed a DNA test, we learned Sandy had almost zero percent greyhound in her genes. (It didn’t matter, she was the best doggo to ever live anyway.) 

So, as you’re gearing up to start checking off your Christmas lists, you might be considering getting a DNA test for the dog lover in your family. But there are so, so many to choose from, and some of the options are more trustworthy than others. Here are a few of the most popular options:

Know Your Pet DNA

Know Your Pet DNA by Ancestry logoLaunched in the fall, Ancestry’s dog DNA test provides a precise breakdown of your dog’s breed(s) from a reference panel of more than 400 different possibilities from all over the world. As an added bonus, Ancestry’s test also uncovers close genetic matches to other dogs in its database and dogs with similar breed mixes in your local area, so you could potentially meet one of your fur baby’s long-lost siblings. It also provides insights into the unique genetic makeup of your dog, with 30 behavioral and physical traits to help you understand them better, like why they suffer from separation anxiety, or the reason they might really enjoy eating dirty socks.

All you need to do is register your test at petdna.ancestry.com, swab your mutt’s cheek for 30 seconds, and then return the sample using the provided prepaid box. The kit is $79 for a limited time to celebrate the launch, and will retail at $99 once the promotion ends (which seems to be a moving target, as it’s been extended several times). 

Koko Genetics

Koko Genetics logoKoko Genetic’s DNA test is the top-rated option according to surveys conducted by Chewy.com. This comprehensive test analyzes more than 710,000 markers in your dog’s DNA and offers three result categories: breed ID, physical traits and health (e.g., if your pooch is a potential carrier of any of around 130 diseases). The test promises results in as little as four to six weeks (which is actually longer than the windows estimated by other companies), and it’s regularly updated and upgraded with new features and functionalities without additional fees. All collected data is encrypted to help keep your pet’s info private and protected, although Koko’s website does boast about an option that would allow you to “find relatives,” and potentially construct a doggo family tree. This kit retails for about $130, but you can often find it marked down during promotional windows.

Embark 

Embark logoEmbark’s test uses a “research-grade genotyping platform” that was created in conjunction with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. It analyzes more than 230,000 genetic markers to screen for more than 350 dog breeds, and tests for 230 genetic health risks, including glaucoma, degenerative myelopathy and other common adult-onset canine ailments. You can opt to get the all-inclusive test for $200 (at the time of this writing it was marked down to $127), or you can choose a test that identifies just the breed for $129. Embark also offers an age test ($159) that it says can accurately estimate your dog’s birthday. 

Wisdom Panel

Wisdom Panel logoThe Wisdom Panel Premium dog DNA test received the “Best Overall” category from USA Today’s “Reviewed” column this year, thanks in part to its lower price point and fast results. Wisdom promises “near-encyclopedic” knowledge of your dog’s genetic health by offering the usual breed breakdown, plus more extensive health insights like genetic conditions (about 265) and physical trait analyses. Wisdom Panel also provides a genetically derived ideal weight range for your pup, which could be particularly helpful for food-motivated breed owners. This kit usually retails for $159, but like many of these options at the time of writing, it was marked down to $111.99 for the holiday season. You could also get the “Essential” test, which has many of the features of the Premium for a much lower price.

Logos for the products above are shown for illustrative purposes; no association or sponsorship is implied.


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