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DNA Testing For Dogs Of Mixed Breed Origins

It is somewhat of a new concept, but dog dna testing is becoming more and more popular everyday. Lovingly referred to as "mutts" or a "Heinz 57" mixed breed dogs are hard to resist and often offer the best of the mix breed varieties found within. Many pet owners would not have anything else. Some individuals don't want to know what mix of breeds make up their dog's canine heritage, and others such as ourselves, want to know if only just for fun. But actually, it can be important for health reasons too. This is because certain dog breeds have a specific set of health related issues. For instance, some heartworm medications can have adverse effects on certain breeds of collies.
sweetie pie, a dog dna testing subject of unknown mixed breed origins
The BioPet DNA Breed Identification Kit
example mixed breed participant Identifies Over 60 Breeds
Simple Home Cheek Swab
* Starting Around $60
* Prices subject to change
Offers Several Test Types
The Canine Heritage XL Dog Breed Test
Identifies Over 100 Breeds
Cheek Swab Done At Home
* Starting Around $60
* Prices subject to change
The Test We Chose To Use
The Wisdom Panel DNA Test Series
Two Versions Available
Blood Sample (200+ Breeds)
Cheek Swab (170 Breeds) resting canine

Comparing And Choosing A Dog DNA Test For Your Mix Breed

There are several different dog dna test options on the market today that you can use to find out what mixed breeds your particular dog may be - these include easy to administer cheek swab varieties that you can do yourself at home like the Canine Heritage™ Dog Breed Test developed by MMI Genomics, Inc., and the DNA Breed Identification Kit from BioPet Vet Lab. The veterinarian administered Wisdom Panel™ MX Mixed Breed Analysis blood test is also an option. Each test compares your pet's genetic makeup with a specific group of dog breeds which will vary depending upon which dna test provider you decide to use. Consequently, when you do your review of available tests you may wish to choose the one that lists the breeds you are most curious about. When choosing a test you will also want to decide upon a method, this usually involves deciding between a veterinarian administered test which requires the doctor to withdraw a blood sample from your pet or the cheek swab variety which merely requires obtaining a few of your pet's cheek cells. The cheek cell variety can be done at home without your veterinarian, it's actually quite easy to do and the process is somewhat similar to that which you see done on the popular CSI television series. Pricing varies by test * starting around $60 for the BioPet brand, $60 for the Canine Heritage and usually more for any veterinarian administered test such as the Wisdom Panel. This is because the total cost of veterinarian administered tests also include what your veterinarian decides to charge for their efforts. * Prices subject to change without notice.
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Knowing What Breed Your Dog Is Not Is Valuable Too
A very important point about dna dog breed testing - it can also be very valuable to know what your dog is not. The power of this should not be underestimated, especially for health reasons. For instance, it may be normal for a certain breed to have a lower white blood cell count than other breeds. If your dog has a lower white blood cell count and you have incorrectly identified them as being one of those dog breeds with that specific health problem you may decide to let the condition go untreated. But, if in fact you discover through dna testing that your dog is not one of those breeds, then you would know that the problem was not typical at all and that the concern should be explored further.
Comparing Popular Breed Tests
Choosing a test is actually not all that confusing. It's just a matter of deciding how much you want to spend, wether or not you want to use a veterinarian and how many breeds you want at your disposal.
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Identifiable Breeds By Test
It is often helpful to know which breeds a product identifies when making a choice between tests.
CHXL   Bio   WP
Afghan Hound
Airedale Terrier
Alaskan Husky
Alaskan Klee Kai
Alaskan Malamute
American Eskimo
... complete list of breeds by alphabet
an example of the MetaMorphix Canine Heritage results certificate with picture

What To Expect From The Results

If you are deciding wether or not to do dog dna testing on your canine it is important to understand that it is possible that the mixed breeds in your dog will not be identified at all. This will happen if your canine's genetic makeup does not match any of the dog breeds on the test providers list, at which time the results will come back as origins unknown. For example, if your dog is half Vizsla and half Kuvasz and the test does not include those breeds, then the results would come back as origins unknown. Likewise, if your dog is part collie and part Vizsla, the testing will likely come back indicating that your dog is a mix of collie with other breeds remaining unidentified. Consequently, when you are trying to decide which dna test to use, you may want to choose one that covers the breeds of most interest to you. When a breed is identified the results will often let you know approximately how strong that breed is in your pet, for instance, one dog's results may be returned as "a trace of beagle with 1/4 or less dachshund and 1/2 or less chihuahua." These may not be the specific results you were expecting, but the findings can be fun and helpful just the same. Once you have chosen, received and administered your test, you or your veterinarian will send it back to the dna testing company for evaluation. The results will usually be returned in about 4 to 6 weeks with a detailed explanation and a certificate suitable for framing to hang on your wall. Our own dog, shown above, came back with only a trace of labrador identified. We were fascinated by the fact that she was not part beagle or whippet like we had always suspected. Another one of our dog's results showed 1/4 german shepherd with a trace of westie - quite the combination indeed!
A Very Important Note Regarding Dog Breed DNA Tests: The accuracy of dog breed dna tests may not be 100% reliable, although they can sometimes be helpful regarding health related issues you will not want to rely on them solely for medication or health related decisions. Always visit thoroughly with your veterinarian to see if the tests should be used toward any medical diagnosis for your specific pet or if it should be used for entertainment purposes only.
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