In addition to being a fun way to learn about your pet’s family tree, a dog DNA test helps you prepare for possible future health issues and understand why your dog behaves the way he does. Dog DNA test accuracy can vary anywhere from 90% to 99% according to the DNA companies, which makes understanding how to interpret and be confident in the test results even more important.
How to read dog DNA test results
Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the test results format
Understanding the structure of the report helps you navigate the results with ease.
DNA results arrive by mail or email and are typically formatted into three separate sections, which include:
- the dog’s breed composition
- health risks or genetic mutations
- information about your pup’s behavior traits or personality
Step 2: Analyze your dog’s breed composition
One of the most exciting parts of having your dog’s DNA tested is discovering his unique breed makeup. You will see a list of dog breeds, along with a percentage of your dog’s DNA that came from each breed. If your pup is a purebred, this section will usually confirm his lineage. If he is a mixed breed, this contains valuable information about your pup’s ancestry and may finally answer the question, “What kind of dog is he?”
Step 3: Asses your dog’s health risk
Depending on the DNA kit you purchased, it may test for more than 200 genetic health risks, diseases or conditions your dog could be at risk for based on his genetic makeup. But, just because the results say your pup is at higher risk for a certain disease doesn’t mean he will develop it. Still, it’s worth a discussion with your veterinarian about the results and how they might be able to help you prevent or manage these health risks.
Step 4: Dig into your dog’s behavior traits
This section is more subjective as every dog has his own unique personality. It can provide insight into your dog’s quirks and tendencies like why your dog herds the cats or always wants to chase the neighborhood squirrels. Understanding these traits helps you tailor a training approach that will work best for your dog?
How accurate are dog DNA tests?
Consumer Dog DNA test accuracy varies by brand and ranges, with companies claiming from 90% to 99%. Also, factors like sample quality, testing methodology and interpretation all impact the accuracy of the results. The DNA companies create the test themselves and use their breed database of dog DNA, which can vary in the amount of breeds they have. When researching for the most accurate test, check if the company has been independently vetted on its accuracy. CBC Marketplace recently put four companies to the test in a DNA investigation. Check out its investigation here.
For more information on the benefits of DNA tests for your dog and a side-by-side brand comparison, read our full review.