Don’t get a dog DNA test

So here you are, a new pet owner, gazing lovingly at the furry face of your adorable puppy. His squishy nose and floppy ears and total mismatched appearance.

And there you are, a new pet owner, walking your six month old puppy around the neighborhood.

You make nice with the neighbors you pass as they chant the verifiable Greek chorus of phrases: “What a good boy! How cute! What is he?”

You’ve laughed along with that Funny or Die video about dog breeds.

But you have to face the facts. Every single day, Fido looks a little less like the Great Dane the rescue claimed he is and a little more like… an alien from Men in Black.

Here’s the thing.

Dog DNA tests are useless. Fun. But useless. If you want the most accurate results, Embark is the way to go. If you want fairly quick but affordable results with average support, then go with Wisdom Panel. (And unless you’re 100% certain that your dog has some wolf in him, you probably don’t need the latest version of the Wisdom Panel test.)

There are a few other options. More companies are jumping into the market as they realize that dog DNA kits are nearly as popular as human DNA kits. And while dog DNA kits haven’t helped catch a murder or torn families apart by exposing lifelong secrets… they are fun for those of us with weird looking mutts.

I got a Wisdom Panel done for Bentley. It showed he was 62.5% mutt. It also showed he was 25% Australian Cattle Dog and 12.5% MAYBE English Springer Spaniel. That’s to say that my dog is such a mix that they couldn’t even identify 62.5%. After contacting customer service with my concerns, they listed out some other dogs that came up as possibilities, but without enough certainty to even list on the report!

I was not brave enough to pay for another DNA test for a dog. But I did submit his DNA to Darwin’s Dogs. This is a research project that will send you a DNA kit for your dog. And nearly 1.5 years after sending in Bentley’s DNA, I had an answer. (This is for the patient at heart.)

Darwin’s Dog agreed that Bentley is mostly Australian Cattle Dog… a whooping 8%. However, unlike Wisdom Panel, they freely gave a list of other potentially identified breeds, which included Chow Chow, Golden Retriever, and a slew of others… including a little bit of English Springer Spaniel…

Does it matter what Bentley is? Not really. I wasn’t concerned about potential health problems. And if you’re just curious, the dog DNA tests can be fun. However, anticipate knowing you spent your money on the excitement of a possibility rather than on an answer.

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