Good Breeding

My friend Max never needed to dig into his genetic history or mark his family tree. He says he’s convinced his relatives include the mighty Lassie, Old Yeller, and a distant cousin called Olly, who made a fool of himself at the world’s most prestigious agility competition. Max also believes he has a connection to an Egyptian cat who ruled thousands of years ago, but I can’t give that notion much credence.

Most dogs already know they’re unique, but you may be wondering what aspect of your mutt’s makeup makes them so special. Genetic testing could be just the ticket to learn a little more about your best friend.

A simple cheek swab, processed in a lab, can shed some light on your dog’s ancestry, give insight into his health and even help explain some of those little quirks, like barking whenever something moves (or doesn’t) past the window. The accuracy of the results, if the dog is mixed with popular breeds, is as high as 96 percent, some companies claim.

Obviously, knowing your dog’s genetic background won’t change your love for him. But learning the certain breeds that combined to result in your darling Bingo or Farfel is more important than satisfying curiosity. Being aware of his canine heritage has practice benefits, too.


Behavior Typical behaviors vary from breed to breed. Seeing potential problems early is helpful for a dog’s training, letting you nip those behaviors in the bud, Barney. Of course, individual personalities also affect behavior, but breed genetics can help determine if he’s wacky due to his environment or if he was just born that way.

Health Risks Certain breeds are more prone to some illnesses and diseases. An owner aware of likely health issues can be more attentive to symptoms and proactive in managing charming Charkie’s health.

Diet Your dog’s DNA plays a huge role in the nutrients he needs to be healthy. Some doggy DNA tests can help predict Uga’s food and drug sensitivities, so you can design an appropriate diet plan for his genetic makeup. This may reduce chronic health conditions like skin irritation and tummy upset.

Well-Being Knowing your dog’s lineage can provide clues about his adult size. You’d want to know if your cuddly Hundley is half Irish Wolfhound or half Dachshund, wouldn’t you? The report shows the healthy weight range for Rowlf’s specific breed combo and suggests appropriate food to keep him fit and healthy.

Breed Identification Finally, there’s a short answer to the redundant “What kind of dog is that?” Be ready for more questions if the DNA results reveal a surprising mix!


Whether screening for health risks, determining the breed mixes of offbeat Wylie Burp, or figuring out food intolerances, dog DNA tests are a fun, informative way to peek into Pongo and Perdita’s histories and help customize their care, possibly preventing problems.

Despite our differences, though, we are all in one pack and members of the same species: Canis familiaris.