Part of my job as a veterinarian is to answer client questions. One of the most popular questions I get asked is, “Do you know what breeds make up my dog?” Sometimes the answer may be obvious to me if the dog is showing dominant traits of a particular breed. But what if it’s not? Do they just accept my educated guess? What other options are available when this is the case? One option clients can consider is DNA testing. That’s right, DNA testing is not just for CSI or the forensic science files. It does have a place in a veterinary medicine
There are quite a few companies that offer DNA testing. Some specialize in just determining breed make up, while others focus on identifying specific genetic mutations, but some combine both aspects. One company that is used at my clinic is the Royal Canin Genetic Health Analysis. They provide a comprehensive report that indicates breed make up and the potential genetic mutation markers. Blood samples are required for this test which are sent to a lab to be analyzed. After a few weeks a report is produced which includes genealogy findings, breed characteristics, genetic markers, nutritional recommendations, and genetic ancestry certification.
- The genealogy findings trace your pet’s ancestry all the way back to the great grandparents which is quite impressive.
- The genetic analysis compares your dog’s blood sample with the DNA of over 250 breeds to help determine breed make up and characteristics. Based on the results, the behavioral traits of each breed are identified to help you determine which one is most dominant in your dog.
- The genetic markers portion of the report discusses 13 specific diseases that cause genetic mutations and 5 potentially inheritable diseases. This is the most medically relevant portion of the report. It does not diagnosis any diseases, but help you to determine if your pet is a carrier.
- The report concludes with nutritional recommendations and a genuine genetic ancestry certificate.
So is DNA testing for you? Perhaps you are still wondering what benefits it can provide? Finding out the breed make up of your dog with a genealogy report may be helpful as a consumer. If you are buying a purebred and the breeder is claiming a pure line, this analysis can confirm it. If you decide to purchase a designer breed like a “Morkie,” “Puggle,” or a Golden Doodle, you can confirm that the parents are indeed what the breeder claims. If you are an owner of a mixed breed dog that has characteristics of a pit bull, the analysis may be helpful if trying to move in an apartment or housing complex that bans the breed.
As a breeder this analysis can increase confidence in potential buyers. The genetic mutation tests can be useful to track inheritance of certain diseases but since they don’t diagnose disease additional testing may be more useful. Outside of this the benefits of DNA testing may be just to satisfy the curiosity as an owner of a mix breed dog.
If you have decided that you are in fact interested in having a DNA test performed, check with your veterinarian. But be prepared, this particular test can cost anywhere from $150 – $250.
If you are interested in in the Royal Canin Genetic Health Analysis check out the website and watch the video below to get more information.