The Best Dog DNA Test Australia -
A Breed & Health Analysis
Our #1 Pick
The Best Value for Money
Embark Breed + Health Dog DNA Test
Have you ever wondered the ancestry of your dog? Maybe your pooch is a mixed breed and doesn’t really look like any breeds you know? A DNA test can give you answers to that and much more.
If you’re thinking that getting a DNA test for your dog is complicated and expensive, we are here to prove you wrong.
Thanks to at-home testing kits available today, there is really no hassle involved. Today, we look at the range of testing kits available to find out which one takes the title of best dog DNA test in Australia.
How To Choose the Right Dog DNA Test for My Dog?
Getting a DNA test for your dog was not a common place until approximately 10 years ago. Mars Petcare was the first to come up with a sampling technique that could be done at home by collecting saliva. This was in 2009, and before that DNA tests were only done on blood samples, which meant you’d have to go to the vet to do it - and not many veterinarians offered such services (1).
Since then, DNA tests that can be done at home have become quite popular (first for people and subsequently for pets). It has, in fact, created a market with multiple providers now claiming to have the most accurate DNA analysis protocols. However, it is also a relatively new market. This means that no regulations have been established – meaning you are left on your own to trust the test or not. So how then does one choose a dog DNA test provider?
What Do You Want to Know?
When deciding which test kit to purchase, the first thing you need to consider is what you are actually trying to discover. Are you just trying to verify the ancestry of your dog, or maybe you have a mix-breed and are curious to find out a mix of what exactly he or she is? Then most tests should satisfy you, however some are more precise than others.
Additionally, dog DNA tests can tell you about certain genetic markers that point to specific diseases and conditions. If this is what you are after, pay attention to what kind of test you are getting, because not all of them offer this feature. And, if you do this - be aware - dog genetics is quite complicated and just because something shows up on the test it doesn’t mean that your dog is ill.
Many DNA testing providers will also give you certain traits of your dog. If you are testing an adult dog, you already know most traits of your dog, so this will only verify whether the analysis was accurate or not. However, if you test a puppy, you get predictions about the dog’s size and weight, which can be very interesting to know (2).
Finally, it is also possible to check if your dog has any living relatives (whose DNA is in the database, obviously). This fun feature is currently only offered by Embark. It also allows you to check if any two dogs are related.
Accuracy is, of course, the number 1 quality that everyone wants from a DNA test. However, without regulations and considering that dog genetics is still a fairly new field, no one can guarantee that the results will be 100% accurate. In fact, all of the DNA test providers have a disclaimer stating that testing is for informational purpose only. However, going with one of the big names (Orivet, Embark, or Wisdom Panel) will give you more precise results. More popular companies have bigger databases, and this gives them an advantage when it comes to the accuracy of results.
Speed is another thing to consider before getting a DNA testing kit for dogs. You might not be aware of this, but in most cases the testing will require a couple of weeks from the moment your sample reaches the lab. So, before settling on a testing kit, make sure to check this information.
A Note of Caution: Be Careful About Dog DNA Test Results
The results of a dog DNA test should never be taken as the absolute truth. While these days they are usually pretty accurate in detecting the breed of a dog, interpreting those results (especially relating to health conditions) is a complicated task, even for geneticists. Consider this comment published in Nature by 3 concerned veterinarians:
PRO TIP: The science is lagging. Most of these tests are based on small, underpowered studies. Neither their accuracy nor their ability to predict health outcomes has been validated. Most vets don’t know enough about the limitations of the studies, or about genetics in general, to be able to advise worried owners. - Moses, Neimi & Karlsson
And they are definitely right. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the test: by testing your dog’s DNA, you also contribute to genetic databases which helps further research in the area. The hope is that, over the years, preventive healthcare for dogs will become much better than now. Just don’t take the results of the test for granted. If you find out something worrisome, always consult with a vet before making any conclusions.
Best Dog DNA Test Reviews
Are all the DNA testing kits you can buy equally good? We’ve researched all of them and here is what we found:
While Embark started doing DNA tests for dogs some years later than their main competitor, Wisdom Panel (see below), they have quickly risen to the top of the market. This is because the DNA analysis they offer gives the most comprehensive results you could possibly find. This test will not just detect the breed of your dog - it also screens for genetic diseases, gives you a family tree of your dog’s ancestors, detects genetic traits and even lets you find and contact any living relatives of your dog. Not bad, right?
Speaking about breeds, Embark claims that their test can distinguish between more than 350 breeds, which pretty much covers all of them. This test is not only interesting for mixed-breed dogs, but for anyone, since it can detect the smallest traces of genetic ancestry of your dog, even if just 5% of their DNA comes from a certain breed. Not only this, but you will also get a detailed ancestry chart showing the interaction of different breeds.
An added benefit of this test from Embark is that it also tests for 190 known diseases and genetic conditions. This number is not a marketing trick - you can see on their website exactly what they test for. While Embark does offer a breed detection only test, which is slightly cheaper, we recommend doing the health screen also. At best, you will know there is nothing to worry about, and if something is detected you can be proactive and take measures to protect the health of your canine companion before it’s too late.
In addition to this, Embark offers a really cool feature (completely free) - the relative finder. If you have ever done a DNA test for humans, you might know about such options for us, but this is the first time someone has built one for dogs. The way it works is simple - if any (close or far) relatives of your dog have been tested, you will get the options to contact their pet parents.
When you buy an Embark DNA testing kit, you donate the DNA of your dog for their research by default. In this way, you are helping Embark improve our knowledge of canine genetics and health. However, you can opt out at any moment.
The Wisdom Panel 3.0 Dog DNA Test will allow you to determine your dog’s breed with probably the best accuracy. Their testing kit is easy to use and the whole process is simple to follow. Moreover, the results you get are clear and easy to understand, including not only the breed ancestry of your dog, but also identified traits and actionable results - such as the recommended weight of your dog.
Wisdom Panel is one of the oldest companies and at the same time one of the oldest research projects dealing with dog DNA. They started out in 2002 as the Genome Technology Platform. At the time, the platform was used to research canine DNA and look for solutions to bring DNA testing to everyone.
In 2007, the first widely used genetic test was introduced, used only by veterinarians in the US until the first at-home testing kit was introduced in 2009 (under the name of Mars Petcare at the time). Since then, they have continued to improve their product and the testing technology behind it, arriving finally to the Wisdom Panel 3.0 test that you can buy today.
One thing we liked about this testing kit is how easy it is to use. Once you open the box, you’ll have the instructions right there - and they are quite easy to follow. It shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds to collect a DNA sample from your dog. Once the sample is ready, you can mail it to the laboratory. In the meantime, you’ll need to activate the test online which will allow you to follow the progress of the test. Once it reaches the laboratory, it will take 2-3 weeks to get the results by email.
The results you get are clear and easy to follow. You will get a detail breed profile of your dog, a list of any genetic traits identified and an “ancestry tree”, that is supposed to show the parents, grandparents and so on) of your dog. This is determined by a predictive algorithm, and the results are a bit questionable. However, Wisdom Panel does have one of the largest databases of dog DNA so their results are usually pretty accurate. In addition to this, by using their product you are actually participating in their research helping them learn more about genetic diseases and create better preventive care solutions for dogs.
Besides Wisdom Panel and Embark, Orivet is among the most trusted sources for dog DNA testing in Australia. It will give you a breed percentage report, an ancestry chart for your dog, as well as a life plan (more about that below).
But first, let’s consider the testing experience. The way this test works is similar to the other providers. When you buy your kit, you will find sterile swabs inside and a booklet that explains everything you need to do. There is an addressed envelope with prepaid shipping inside too, so you don’t have to bother with the boring details. Once the mail arrives to the testing lab, it will take a couple of weeks to analyze the results.
You’ll be able to see the results online, on the Orivet website which is easy to use and also gives you lots of comprehensive information to better understand the test result. You can also print out a certificate of your dog’s breed analysis. The results also include an ancestry report with three generations.
Now, this test also includes a “life plan”, so you might be wondering what that is. Well, based on the breed information of your dog, Orivet uses a proprietary algorithm to determine the recommended weight of your dog (this also means it will predict the weight of the adult dog if you test a puppy which can be quite useful information).
In a similar way it will also give you insights into your dog’s personality traits and give you nutritional suggestions. Overall, this plan can be very helpful for learning how to take optimal care of your dog’s health during every life stage.
DNA My Dog is the cheapest dog DNA test on the market, and one that has gained quite a bit of popularity recently. The test will give you a dog breed percentage for your pooch with decent accuracy. The results also include comprehensive information about every breed found in your dog’s profile, including known personality traits and common health conditions.
The process of taking a sample is pretty much the same as every other test, and it’s quite easy to do. You get sterile swabs in your kit and directions on how to collect samples and mail them back to the lab. In a couple of weeks, you get the results.
However, we must say - this is definitely not the most precise test available. Some users have complained that the breed profile was completely off (although for many it seems to be accurate). In any case, it is not something you should rely on, but if you have a mixed-breed dog and are just curious to find out what their ancestors were, this might be an attractive option due to lower price than the competitors.
This is not really a DNA test, but, if you are looking for ways to learn more about your dog’s health, then a microbiome test could also be quite useful. This simple test allows you to learn exactly what your dog’s gut microbiome consists of, which, in turn, gives you the opportunity to improve your pooch’s overall health.
In recent years, it has become quite clear that the human microbiome is connected to overall health in many ways. If there is a disbalance, it can be connected to many diseases and conditions, and sometimes the solution is as simple as balancing the microbiome.
When we say microbiome, we mean the population of microorganisms that naturally live inside our gut (4). These microorganisms are present in all humans, and dogs as well! So, it only makes sense to look at the microbiome if you want to ensure optimal wellness for your dog.
There is a large number of health issues in dogs that can be caused by disbalances in the microbiome. These include certain skill conditions as well as a whole array of digestive problems like chronic diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, or just sensitive stomachs. The microbiome can also influence the overall appetite levels of your dog.
So, what exactly can this test do for you? By taking the test, you’ll get a thorough analysis of what exactly your dog’s microbiome consists of. Orivet will also provide a detailed personalised report, so you don’t really have to understand all the numbers yourself. Based on this, you can improve the diet of your dog so it fits them best, or include specific supplements if needed.
Final Thoughts on DNA Testing for Dogs
While dog DNA tests are still not 100% accurate, they can be a great way to learn more about your dog. By analyzing the dog’s genetic code, analysts can determine exactly which breed or breeds your dog comes from.
Not only this, but you can learn a lot about your dog’s health. Wisdom Panel is the oldest canine DNA test on the market, but Embark has also earned the trust of pet parents from all over the world, and they do offer a more detailed health report.
When you buy a dog DNA kit, what you essentially get is a box with swabs, an envelope, and instructions. What you’ll need to do is swab the inside of your dog’s mouth according to the instructions and mail the samples to the provider’s lab. In a couple of weeks, you’ll get the results which are essentially an analysis of your dog’s genetic code.
No, dog DNA tests can never be 100% accurate, but most providers say their accuracy rate is above 90% per cent. Dog DNA tests can offer quite a lot of insights, but you should never take the results for granted, as there is always a chance the test could be wrong.
It depends on what kind of test you take. Most dog DNA tests will give you a breed percentage analysis of your dog's DNA makeup. Some go beyond that and test for known genetic mutations that are linked with specific diseases, and some will even tell you if there are any living relatives of your dog who have been tested before.
- Zhang, Sarah. November 12, 2018. “What Vets Think of ‘23andMe for Dogs”. Atlantic. Retrieved November 7, 2020. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/11/vets-dog-dna-test/575152/
- Dixon, Jenifer. “Dog DNA Tests: Why Your Mutt’s Makeup Matters”. Fetch by WebMD. Retrieved November 7, 2020. https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/dog-dna-testing#1
- Moses, Lisa, Steve Niemi & Elinor Karlsson. 25 July 2018. “Pet genomics medicine runs wild”. Nature. Retrieved November 7, 2020. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05771-0
- Becker, Karen Shaw. November 22, 2018. “Your Dog’s Microbiome. Animal Wellness. Retrieved November 8, 2020. https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/your-dogs-microbiome/