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Is It Worth Getting Your Dog DNA Tested?
By Amy Caldwell
Published: 09/22/2017, edited: 08/10/2021
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A hotly debated topic in the canine world is the surge in popularity of DNA testing. Many suggest there is simply no need for it, and with a myriad of different tests currently available at around $200 per analysis, is it little more than a serious waste of money? On the other side, many argue there are perfectly good reasons for getting your dog DNA tested, from helping you better understand their behavior and personality, to making you aware of potential illnesses and allergies they may be susceptible to.
Why Get My Dog DNA Tested?
If your dog is a mixed breed, you might have an idea of what percentage of Retriever they are vs Labradoodle, but results from DNA tests have left many owners seriously surprised. But what benefit is it to know precisely how much of what is in your canine friend?
Firstly, some breeds are predisposed to certain disorders. Labrador Retrievers, for example, are known to develop arthritis, so if you know your dog is primarily retriever, you can tailor their care to reduce the chance of arthritis developing. This is a benefit that was aptly highlighted in a 2004 study into detecting the chances of von Willebrand Disease in Dutch Kooiker Dogs with DNA tests. Alternatively, some breeds are predisposed to certain allergies. So, if you have a half terrier, half Schnauzer, you would know they could have an inherited tendency towards allergic sensitivity.
Some researchers feel that genetic testing "has opened the door to greater research of more complex diseases." However, many DNA testing companies encourage owners to consult their vets as opposed to relying on DNA test results when it comes to inherited diseases. Remember, there is chance for error and inaccuracy. Pet owners should not be worrying about their pet inheriting a disease when it may never happen. The fun of knowing your dog's ancestry should be the focus.
A good point about getting your dog DNA tested is that some of the companies performing the work are doing charitable work with animal shelters and rights groups in the United States, while others are even branching out to help dogs in places like Nepal. So, go ahead and learn your furry buddy's ancestry while helping a dog in need at the same time.
How Do Dog DNA Tests Work?
Sending a sample of your dog's DNA out for analysis has never been easier. Tests will usually entail a simple swab of the cheek. You then send off your saliva filled swab to the lab and you will have the results emailed or posted to you in a matter of weeks.
The cost for ancestry and health risk information could set you back anywhere between $50 and $200, and maybe more. It is always worth looking at some reviews before choosing a DNA test company, to ensure you are getting value for money. More money doesn’t necessarily mean increased accuracy.
Again, reading the results as a fun way to know your pet's make-up should be the main reason for the testing. Knowing your dog’s primary breed may make you aware of potential diseases and allergies to watch out for, enabling you to tailor their care and possibly prevent problems further down the line. However, if you want to consider the health aspect of the assessment, discuss it with your dog's veterinary caregiver.
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