Twenty years ago, unless your dog was a registered purebred, his breed heritage was anyone's guess. Today, DNA tests provide accurate portraits of any dog's breeding regardless of pedigree. In addition to satisfying your curiosity, identifying your dog's mix will alert you to potential health problems associated with his lineage.
Open the DNA testing package and remove the indicated sample swabs. Each test is different, but most will require that you obtain at least two different cheek swab samples. Because food particles can contaminate the results, it's best to collect the sample first thing in the morning, before your dog eats breakfast.
Run each cotton swab on the inside of your dog's cheek for 45 seconds. The test's accuracy relies on skin cells, not just saliva, so brush the swab vigorously to ensure a large enough sample. After swabbing his mouth, immediately place the swab in the designated envelop and secure the seal to prevent contamination.
Mail the collection samples back to the testing company along with any additional information requested in the instructions. Expect your dog's DNA profile to arrive within four to six weeks, depending on the company. Profile layouts vary by company, but most will highlight the primary breed or breeds in your dog, as well as the lesser percentages of other breeds.
- For optimal accuracy, purchase a DNA testing kit from the company with the largest breed index. For example, a company that pinpoints genetic evidence from 100 different breeds will produce a more comprehensive report than a company that only identifies 70 breeds.
- If you need to verify your dog's breed for insurance or competition purposes, ask the organization that requested the test if it has a preferred DNA testing company. This will prevent your dog's results from being dismissed as insufficient or inaccurate.
Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.