DNA Tests for Dogs: Fun, Interesting, but Probably Not Worth the Money

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In the July issue of Whole Dog Journal, we have an article (“Dog DNA Tests: Mixed Results“) about the mixed-breed dog DNA tests that are available to dog owners for a fairly hefty price.

I have ordered a few of these tests over the years, gathering information about how they work and whether they appear to be all that helpful in identifying the breeds that have gone into a given mixed-breed dog.

In the above-referenced article, I shared the results from the tests I have ordered for my 10-year-old mixed-breed dog, Otto, over the years. All I can say about the results from the two most respected companies is that they mostly jibe with each other – and that both companies explain that dogs may not look anything like the breeds whose genes they contain!

whole dog journal woody

We didn’t have room in the article to share the results of the tests I’ve had done on Woody, my younger dog. One can see that Woody clearly has some sort of bully breed or breeds in his lineage. In my experience, none of the companies are all that good about sussing out one bully breed from another. I can’t say I blame them; neither am I. 

Here are Woody’s results from the two most reputable companies that provide these tests:

Wisdom Panel results (2016)

50.0% American Staffordshire Terrier

50.0% Labrador Retriever

whole dog journal woody

This is interesting: Both Wisdom Panel and Embark say they will occasionally update your results, so you should log in to their site from time to time. When we most recently checked Woody’s Wisdom Panel profile, we saw his results had been changed. Now Wisdom Panel says he is:

62.5% American Staffordshire Terrier

25.0% Labrador Retriever

12.5% (mixed)

Woody! Where has all your Labrador gone?

Embark results (2018)

40.8% American Pit Bull Terrier

30.3% Labrador Retriever

19.9% American Staffordshire Terrier

9.0% Olde English Bulldogge

Are there any bully breed experts who care to explain the possible differences between these results, as well as the mix of breeds reported by Embark?

The funniest results came from a much smaller company – one that returned some very silly results on Otto, too.

whole dog journal woody

DNA My Dog results (2016)

Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Level 2, i.e., between 37%-74%)

America Staffordshire Terrier (Level 3, i.e., between 20%-36%)

Pembroke Welsh Corgi (Level 4, i.e., between 10%-20%)

Pug (Level 4)

Given both his looks and the fact that Woody stands 24 inches at the withers and weighs 70 pounds soaking wet…I am not sure I can find any room in my heart to buy the idea that he has ANY Corgi or Pug genes.

Want my honest take on these tests? The results from the larger, more reputable companies are fun and interesting, but tend to either confirm that a dog is mostly what he looks like he is, or bring up a breed that one hadn’t considered before because the dog doesn’t look anything like that (like Otto containing either 12.5% % American Staffordshire Terrier [according to Wisdom  Panel] or 21.3% American Pit Bull Terrier  [according to Embark]- REALLY?).  I can’t honestly say the answers are all that satisfying, either way.

whole dog journal otto

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