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A report from DNA Print Genomics includes genotypes, ancestral population results and 15-N population results. Ancestral population results indicate your dog’s relationship to each of the four most basic branches of the canine family tree—wolf-like, hunters, herders and Mastiffs—while 15-N population results are a set of numbers that compare a sample to groups of breed signatures in the database. Each owner is given an ID and password that are used to query the online database for matches to specific breeds.

The Mars Veterinary report presents images of the breeds present in your dog’s ancestry, with the relative size of the image indicating the prevalence of each breed. An appearance, behavior and history section describes characteristics of each identified breed that might be seen in your dog.

As the companies run more tests and add breeds to their databases, the accuracy of the results may improve. It is also possible that even more companies will enter the canine breed ancestry DNA test field. When deciding where your dog’s sample will be submitted, determine what you want to learn and educate yourself about each of the tests. All of the companies agree that working with your veterinarian will ensure that you get the most out of your results. Who knows, choosing the test that best matches your needs could do more than just earn you a victory in the great German Shepherd/Doberman Pinscher debate!

*None of these tests are designed to identify purebred dogs, and the AKC will not accept test results for registration purposes.

Want to read more about dogs and DNA? Click here.

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 50: Sept/Oct 2008
Amy Young is a geneticist at the University of California, Davis; her article on commercial DNA breed tests appeared in the Sept/Oct '08 issue of Bark.

Photograph by Gretchen LeMaistre

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by New dog in the ... | April 21 2011 |

vetGen is another option (Canine Heritage XL Test), and I like its confidentiality policy - https://www.vetgen.com/confidentiality-policy.html .

I chose vetGen instead of MMGI (MMI Genomics, Inc.) in part b/c I was not comfortable with MMGI's sales agreement ("Terms and Conditions") as to this paragraph (as of today's date April 21, 2011) re: privacy: "USE OF MATERIAL - MMIG may freely use your sample, sample information, pet's photo and the information derived from it for it's marketing, sales and general research purposes in the development of new or advanced products and services. ... ."

Thanks for your article.

Submitted by Renee | August 5 2011 |

I'd love for someone to use several tests on their mutt and report results, to see if they're picking up similar info!

Submitted by Anonymous | November 28 2012 |

WebMD.com did exactly what you wanted: here's a link to the aricle:

http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/dog-dna-testing

Submitted by Eileen | May 7 2012 |

I used the mars DNA on my puppy of 4 months and am waiting for the results. My other dog, who was supposedly Shar pei mix, was undoubted Italian greyhound mix with the DNA sample. And she is greyhound in build and temperament. Both are rescue dogs. I did it for health of the dog in coming years. It does seem fairly spot on.

Submitted by Brigitte Reed | July 23 2012 |

Since this article was published Canine Heritage has since gone out of business. Mars sued them for using techniques patented by Mars Veterinary and forced them to shut their doors. It appears that Mars is going after anyone who offers a commercial breed DNA test. If they have their way, soon they will be the only contenders in the market. I cannot begin to describe to you how annoyed this makes me. I may never buy M&M's again.

http://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=23206

This is an article with a bit more information regarding the legal battle between the two.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 28 2013 |

Dont buy anything made by MARS anyway, be it dog food / treats/ toys or people products. They test all their products on dogs, killing them in the process. Its terrible and they need to be stopped!

Submitted by Mark | January 24 2013 |

What a crock the Mars test is. Not one of the alleged breeds looks or acts anything like my dog. Moreover my dog is a large 95 lbs dog and not overweight, while the breeds allegedly revealed by the swab test were 20-60 lbs. If my dog were a wolf, then the Mars test said he was a poodle. They made a big deal about sending the swab in quickly, but with overnight priority mail did not acknowledge receiving the test for more than 8 days. What a waste of time and money. These people are criminals.

Submitted by Ancestrygal fro... | September 6 2013 |

I'm quite enthusiastic about obtaining my ancestry details, however privately.

Is there this sort of facility, or system?

Submitted by Mila Long | July 10 2014 |

My first test (same dog) was mastiff, bull terrier, whippet predominate breeds...after dispute and new swab test...german shepherd, bull terrier, boxer..predominate breeds....he looks like an australian shepherd (body type, size, blue eye and natural bob tail) and perhaps another mix that would include wolfhound. My big shaggy boy. You can put your money back into your pocket instead of being ripped. I noticed one person complaining that her test was back as a st bernard mix but her dog was only 5 pounds (full grown)..I do not think they know anything but accounting.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 30 2013 |

I recently had a Wisdom Panel DNA cheek swab test processed by Mars Vet. The results were a combination of vague and bizarre. The specific breeds identified seemed very off target in light of the fact that I know a great deal about the specific farm that my dog was rescued from. I emailed Mars Vet to express my concern that the results were so far off from credible, and received a reply that said I should send them a photo of the dog so they could more accurately assess the algorithm used. I was under the impression that DNA testing was a scientific process, not palm reading. Should I be suspicious that they now want a photo of the dog when I stated that the results do not seem appropriate? I could have guessed at what he was a long time ago. I thought this would be accurate and true. Any thoughts?

Submitted by Tina Greene | February 23 2013 |

We just got back some surprising results as well on our dog. I spoke to the vet where she was born who told me the mom was a Beagle, and the dad unknown. She looks like she is a hunting dog of some sort, but she came back as a Chihuahua and Dachshund. She is not big, but bigger than they are. I might try sending in a picture as someone suggested.

Submitted by Dog Lovr | January 20 2014 |

Well now the MARS DNA plant is having difficulty processing samples... machines are broken... for weeks. All I get is the run around. They have cornered the market and now they can't even deliver. I'm going to ask for a refund.

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