Do Dog DNA Tests Really Work?

Curious what your mystery mutt actually is? Rachael Ray Every Day contributor Sarah Zorn was, so she DNA-tested her mixed breed and found her own guesses were waaay off.
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sarah fred and dog rowdy

Sarah, Fred and Rowdy at 1 year old

I first met Rowdy when I visited an animal shelter on Long Island, NY, with my husband, Fred, and my mom. Rowdy was two months old, and he gave us a sassy look before conking out on my mom’s shoulder. I fell instantly in love. He was labeled a shepherd mix, which made sense considering his black and tan markings. Then, at six months, he turned completely blond and looked strikingly like a Rhodesian ridgeback. And when Fred and I woke up one night to him howling at an unexpected visitor, we knew he had to be some sort of hound. 

Rowdy kept us guessing as he grew, so, with all these new doggy DNA services popping up, we decided to find out what breeds he really was. We ordered kits from three companies, swabbed his cheeks, mailed out the samples and waited for the results. 

dog rowdy wearing sweater

Rowdy all grown up (and ready for sweater weather!)

Turns out, our hunches were all wrong. Two of the reports had almost identical results, saying he’s a Staffordshire terrier (aka pit bull) mixed with bloodhound, Doberman pinscher and a few other breeds. The third said he’s a cocker spaniel! (I guess that helps explain that company’s mixed reviews.) We pored over his genetic markers, DNA sequences that tell us everything from where his smoky eye rims come from to his risk of diseases and his overall level of “wolfiness.” Then we shared the results with his vet. But to me, the coolest part of it all is that we now have a sense of why our guy acts the way he does—and an answer when people on the street ask, “What is he?” 

Ready to put your pup to the test? Find out which service we tested is right for you.

ServiceHow much?Get results in...# of breeds tested for# of health conditions tested for# of genetic markers tested for

Embark
embarkvet.com

$199

6–8 weeks

>150

>160

>200,000

Wisdom Panel 4.0
wisdompanel.com

$85

2–3 weeks

>250

2

1,800