“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” ~ Dr. Seuss
Written by Stephanie C.
DNA tests are becoming more and more popular, among humans and our pets. Most of us who have mutts have always thought, “I wonder what kind of parents you had.” Some of us who have purchased the high price for pure breeds wants to know if their pet really is a pure bred. Where do we begin to find out the answers to these questions?
When “Dog DNA Test” is put into Google.com, a whole slew of different options show up. “Petsmart”, “kit”, “Amazon”, “Groupon”, “Walmart”, “results” are all different words that are affiliated with DNA testing your dog. There are now so many different kits, how do you know which one is the best for the best money? Which kit is more reliable?
(If you just want a quick run-down about the DNA tests I tried out, just scroll down to the bottom of this page.)
I’ve gone ahead and did a couple tests on my mutt Rooney. He’s been my little rescued Jack Russell Terrier for 7 years, but what in the world is he mixed with? His behavior is Jack, his energy is for sure Jack, but his fur is so scruffy, there has to be something else in there.
I did some research and found that I had 2 options: a blood test and a saliva swab. I went first with the blood test, just knowing in my gut that would be the more accurate test. Neither test required any other information other than his name, weight and the sample. I was shocked that no photo needed to be sent in to either test since we all judge a dog’s breed based on looks.
The first test I ordered with our weekly food order to Royal Canin. It didn’t come in the shipment with the food but came separate one week later. I did have it shipped to the clinic since it is a blood test and I knew I couldn’t draw blood on my own at home. Once the test came in, I brought Mr. Roo to the clinic, against his will, to get some blood taken. It wasn’t much. Less blood was needed for this test than for annual blood chemistry or even pre-operative blood work. The kit was easy to comprehend and after I got the blood, I shipped it out from TLC in the self-addressed and self-stamped box. The next day, I got an email confirming that they received my results and would send an email after I got the results.
The first email received less than 14 days later was sent to Dr. Akbulut. She is Rooney’s primary doctor. They sent her a complete detailed email about not only his analysis but also about what diseases he may be susceptible the in the future. Ten days later, I then received my own email from Royal Canin explaining his results is more layman’s terms. At first I was confused why they sent my doctor the results 10 days before sending them to me. Now I understand that the delay gave her 10 days to read and research what questions I would come up with. Of course when I got my results, I immediately had questions and she was able to answer right away since she had read the 15-page document.
I really liked the imagery. Seeing the breeds that go back to three generations was nicer than having to read and visualize. I also appreciated the “Mixed Breed” option. While it is annoying since I want to know what he’s mixed with, I’m glad they didn’t just stick a random breed in there to keep me satisfied with the results.
I felt the blood test results were pretty accurate, but I was expecting a lot more Jack Russel. Pomeranian and Toy Poodle were not on my radar for Rooney. The second portion of the test told me what “group” he belonged mostly too. The “group” was an assumption beyond the 3rd-generation. He was primarily placed in the “hound group” and secondary to the “terrier group”. This I found questionable, but also realistic. I’ve always thought of him more as a terrier hunting lizards than a strong nosed hound.
This test also included MDR1 testing. MDR1 stands for Multi-Drug Resistance-1. In short, this is a genetic mutation that can cause a dog to have negative side effects to some commonly used drugs that the doctor may prescribe out throughout their life time. It’s mostly found in herding breeds. The mutation was discovered by Washing State University. The packet I received had a lot of information regarding the MDR-1 and what specific breed it affects at what percentages. Luckily Mr. Roo tested as “normal” so he does not have the mutation. (This doesn’t mean he won’t have any adverse reactions to medications, but the chances are lowered. He has been on Acepromazine (storm sedation) and Ivermectin (heartworm prevention) in the past with no problems.)
He was also tested for 140 specific disease causing mutations in his body. He came up negative for all of them, but they did only list 12 for me on my hand out.
The part I was iffy about is the nutritional recommendation. I understand that Royal Canin is a power house in the pet food industry, but I only get my food recommendations from Dr. Akbulut. She knows Roo best and what he needs on a daily basis. I did appreciate their break down on his senior needs.
The second test I opted for was the cheaper option off of Amazon.com. I am a Prime member so the free two day shipping was also nice. This was the Wisdom Panel saliva test. I had it shipped to my work office and received it within the 2 day shipping period. I took it home and was shocked at how easy it was. Almost too easy. I re-read the directions a few times to make sure I didn’t screw it up. It came with 2 plastic scrub brushes that I wiped the inside of his mouth with. I was also shocked at how good he was for me to do this on my own. I focused on getting the upper gums, since that’s the area they wanted the brush to come in contact with. I let the brushes air dry for a couple minutes then packaged it away and stuck it in the mailbox. Two days later I received an email that they received my kit and would let me know the results once they are in.
Within the 14 days, I go my email with 13 pages of information. The first page was an “exception letter”. When I ordered the two tests I didn’t realize that they are BOTH OWNED BY ROYAL CANIN. Both the Wisdom Panel saliva kit and the Genetic Health Analysis blood test are both owned and operated by Mars Veterinary which owns Royal Canin. I’m not sure if it’s all done in the same lab or what their process is, but they recognized that Rooney had previously had a DNA test before.
This letter went into explanation that the test results may come out different due to the process. I’m glad they recognized that Rooney has had a test done previously, but this made a HUGE difference in my decision of which test would I recommend for testing your pet’s DNA.
The packet continued to inform me about their process and what exactly they are testing for and about their algorithms. I received a page about each breed that they found in Rooney and the key identifiers, a Statement of Authentication, more information about the MDR1 mutation and a page guessing his adult weight and size.
In conclusion, I would recommend the Wisdom Panel that I purchased on Amazon.com. The price was better. I didn’t have to take him to the clinic to get blood drawn so getting the sample was easier. The results were not 100% the same, but pretty darn close. Since I don’t plan to “show” him or breed him, this was enough of a test for my particular needs.
If you have done a DNA test on your pet and want to share the results, feel free to email me and let me know your opinion on the test that you performed on your pet. TLCBoarding@gmail.com
Royal Canin Genetic Health Analysis
Time frame from send off to result: 15 days
This was a blood test done in the clinic at TLC Animal Hospital. It was ordered at the clinic and was overseen by Dr. Akbulut. It was a small amount of blood that needed to be sent off in a self-addressed, pre-paid box. They only required the blood. No photo was sent in.
Cost: $76.49 with Amazon Prime Membership
Time frame from send off to result: 14 days
This was a saliva test that was performed at home. Two swipes in the mouth and mailed off in a self-addressed, pre-paid box. No photo was sent.
There are other DNA tests out there and here are my reasoning for not getting them:
Embark is another DNA test kit that starts at $179, which is out of my price range for a test. However, it does have good reviews on Amazon.com and is partnered with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
DNA My Dog is a discounted $68.99 test. I decided not to do this test, because it is my money, but also they want you to submit a photo of the dog. I feel like this is a scapegoat from an actual DNA test. They also post on their website the breeds that they look for and are restricted to 84 breeds. Jack Russell isn’t one of them so I hesitated to spend the money on this test.