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 80 different tests currently available, at up to $125 a test, 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 more susceptible to. This article will look at both sides of the argument, and run you through the DNA testing process, including costs and timeline.
If your dog is a mixed breed, you might have an idea of what percentage of Retriever he is 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.
Half of U.S dogs are mixed breeds and three quarters of owners do not fully know their dog’s ancestry. Some argue that has never been a problem so far, why does it suddenly need changing today?
Since the company, Mars started asking pet owners to home test their dogs in 2011, millions of dollars have been spent on DNA tests, a significant portion of that going to Mars. So, you would be forgiven for thinking it is nothing short of a campaign to increase profits.
The other problem with DNA tests is that they work in a number of different ways, and give a varying degree of accuracy. This concern over accuracy was carefully documented in a 2012 article by Cathryn Mellersh. If you’re forking out serious cash, you don’t want results that are anything short of 100% accurate!
Getting your hands on home DNA tests has never been easier. You can buy them with ease from a number of online sites. The most popular brands are Mars, Wisdom, and DNA My Dog. Alternatively, you can purchase home tests from pet stores like PetSmart and Petco.
Tests will usually entail a simple swab of the cheek, a while after their last meal. You then send off your saliva filled swabs and you will have the results emailed or posted to you in a matter of weeks.
The cost of your DNA test could set you back anywhere between $50 and $125. It is always worth looking at some reviews before buying a DNA test, to ensure you are getting value for money. More money doesn’t necessarily mean increased accuracy.
Does your dog definitely need a DNA test? Probably not. But could it offer you some beneficial information? Yes! Knowing your dog’s primary breed will 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. DNA tests are straightforward to get your hands on, but they will set you back some serious cash! If you are still unsure about whether to have your dog tested, your local vet will be able to offer you guidance.