Dog breed tests are generally accurate when assessing a dog’s breed (or breeds). Yet, the three tests that lead the pack include Wisdom Panel, Embark, and Orivet. An article published by the New York Times notes that the first two tests get it right at least 95 percent of the time. However, other tests (like Orivet) also claim a high accuracy rating.
At-home dog DNA tests are getting more and more accurate each year. Some even test for more than dog breeds; they also offer information about a dog’s genetic predisposition, giving owners more insight into their future health needs.
What to Know First About Dog Breed Tests
Most dog breed tests generally cost $80 to $150. They’re all standard, too. First, a dog owner swabs the inside of their dog’s mouth using a long Q-tip. Then, they place the sample in a small plastic bag and send it off for testing. The cost of postage is usually included in the price of the initial test.
The dog’s owner will get results within two to five weeks, depending on what test they purchased. They can opt to get the results via snail mail or email.
Dog Breed Tests Don’t Predict Temperament
Some owners administer dog breed tests because they’re hoping to learn about their new pet’s disposition. However, that’s where things can go awry. While each dog breed has its own “personality,” each dog is different.
Only time will reveal information about a dog’s temperament. Learning that a dog stems from a reactive breed doesn’t mean it will also have those traits.
These Dog DNA Tests Claim High Accuracy Rates
Wisdom Panel Premium claims to be one of the best tests for mixed-breed dogs. Went to Mexico and brought home a street dog? No problem: Wisdom Panel tests across 350 breeds, breaking down results into fractions of a percent. It also tests across canine species, including coyotes and wolves.
Like many dog breed tests on this list, Wisdom Panel does more than test for breeds; it also looks for future health concerns. For instance, if a dog has an underlying bleeding disorder, Wisdom Panel would share this information. These details would offer new dog owners information about planning for a certain condition.
Per Canine Journal, Embark DNA tests for “breed identification, 35+ physical traits, ancestry, geographic origin, and genetic disease risk (for 215+ known canine genetic health problems).”
Embark DNA gets high marks because dog owners can present their veterinarians with the information from these tests. These can give animal healthcare professionals more insight into a dog’s DNA profile, allowing them to:
- Know what medications could cause adverse side effects
- Learn about a dog’s allergies (for example, bees)
- Understand a dog’s actual age
- Explore a dog’s genetic makeup
- Screen for certain illnesses and predispositions
Embark DNA also shares whether a dog was inbred––a common practice in puppy mills. While inbreeding doesn’t guarantee that a dog will have health problems, it’s something many owners want to know about. Per Canine Medicine and Genetics, inbreeding can also lead to mutations that lead to shorter lifespans and behavioral problems.
Orivet has made a name for itself as one of the cheaper dog DNA tests on today’s market. Canine Journal notes that Orivet claims a high accuracy level, although it doesn’t offer an exact number. However, it states that Orivet:
- Tests among 350 recognized dog breeds
- Tests for over 200 health conditions
- Outlines a dog’s health risks based on certain factors
- Predicts the dog’s adult weight
These tests also offer results within two to three weeks of their submission.
Is There Any Other Way to Evaluate a Dog’s Breed?
Dog DNA tests offer a highly accurate way of measuring a dog’s breed. However, if one doesn’t want to submit a test, they could guess a dog’s breed by:
- Weighing it. Weighing a dog at the one-year mark can narrow down what breed a dog is. For instance, a dog that weighs 40 pounds at 12 months is likely a medium-sized dog breed, like a Border Collie or Shetland Sheepdog.
- Reading the dog’s adoption paperwork. Some rescues will list a dog as a “terrier mix” or something vague. Even though this doesn’t offer an exact answer, it lets a new owner make an educated guess. Terriers range from Pitbulls to Yorkies.
- Evaluating the dog’s disposition. Every dog breed has its disposition. For instance, a high-energy dog could be some kind of collie or shepherd. A low-energy dog could be some kind of hound.
- Looking at the dog’s coloring. Ever seen a pure black Chihuahua? Probably not; these are rare. However, black Labrador retrievers are a dime a dozen. A dog’s coloring can reveal important information about its breed. Certain color patterns can disclose certain information, too. For instance, a black dog with brown “eyebrows” could be a rottweiler mix.
- Taking it to the vet. Veterinarians don’t take a “Dog Breed 101” class in college. Yet, their experience can lend invaluable insight into a dog’s breed and possible health profile.
There’s One Way to 100 Percent Know a Dog’s Breed
While dog DNA tests claim to be very accurate, there’s only one way to 100 percent know about a dog’s breed: meeting its parents. Many reputable breeders let potential owners meet a puppy’s parents. Some breeders even go the extra mile and explain the parents’ health profile, allowing an owner to know what to expect in the future.