Have you ever wondered about the heritage of your mixed breed dog? By using a canine DNA test kit, you can find out exactly which breeds reside within your lovable mutt’s genetic makeup!
DNA testing for dogs is a great way to satisfy your curiosity and get to know your pooch a little bit better.
Learn about ancestry, breed mixes, and even about health and genetic conditions.
We’ve reviewed the kits available in the UK to find the best dog DNA test with the most accurate results.
Below, you’ll find our top three recommendations and a complete guide to choosing the right test for your dog.
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Our 3 Recommended Dog DNA Tests
These are the dog DNA kits that we recommend over all others.
There's our top pick, the best value for money, and a great alternative.
We review each in more detail down below.
OUR TOP PICK
Wisdom Panel Premium
In our opinion, the best UK dog DNA test is the Wisdom Panel Premium kit.
The high-end option from Wisdom Panel, the Premium test will reveal everything you’ve ever wanted to know about your dog’s heritage – and much more!
Highest Accuracy and Reliability
The Wisdom Panel laboratory draws on a database of over 1,800 biomarkers with more than 350 breeds in the reference panel – more than any other commercially available dog DNA test UK.
This enables the Wisdom Panel laboratory to provide highly accurate information, with your dog’s DNA tested against a huge number of genetic breed makers.
Alongside their accuracy, Wisdom Panel tests produce reliable, reproducible results.
When the same dog was tested several times, even under different aliases, the results were identical every time – proving that the testing methods used by Wisdom Panel are genuine and effective.
The Most Detailed Results
With the Wisdom Panel Premium test, you’ll receive the broadest range of insights available on the market.
Most importantly, the results will include a breed breakdown list, detailing the percentages of the breeds present in your dog’s genome.
For so-called Supermutts, this list could include more than ten different breeds – and Wisdom Panel will let you know what these are, down to one percent.
But that’s just the start. The Premium test gives you access to an online information panel that also includes details on your dog’s family tree.
Based on sample analysis, you can find out all about the breeds of your pup’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, complete with information on what they might have looked like!
This is a fascinating insight for mixed-breed dogs and a useful tool for breeders looking to select their strongest dogs.
As well as testing for breed markers, each Premium sample is also screened for over 200 medical conditions to give you an idea of potential health problems.
It’s even possible to arrange a follow-up call with one of Wisdom Panel’s licensed veterinarians to discuss the health risks revealed by the test.
The results also include over 35 ‘Trait Tests’: various insights into matters such as your dog’s ideal weight range and explanations as to why he looks the way he does.
Last but not least, breeders will be thrilled to learn that the test also reveals the dog’s carrier status. This means that the lab screens samples for genetic factors that could affect the health of future puppies.
Wisdom Panel Essential
A cheaper alternative to the Premium test, Wisdom Panel Essential dog breed test UK benefits from the same accuracy and reliability as our top pick.
Regardless of which option you choose, the laboratory still tests every sample in the same way, using their vast database of biomarkers and breeds.
The only difference between the Essential and Premium products lies in the range and depth of insights you receive with the results.
With the Essential test, you’ll find out your dog’s breed percentages, as well as learning about their family tree going back to the great-grandparents.
Wisdom Panel does a great job of producing accurate and reproducible breed test results, providing you with a detailed breakdown of the breed-specific markers carried by your dog.
Whether you’re looking to find out what breeds went into creating the lovable mutt on your lap or to check the purity of your dog’s breed, Wisdom Panel Essential will tell you everything you want to know.
In addition, the results of Trait screening are also available with this test. These provide information on the origins of your dog’s appearance and tips for keeping him healthy and happy.
The Essential test also includes screening for over 25 medical conditions, helping you to identify potential health risks for your pup.
While this is not the same as having your dog thoroughly examined by a veterinarian, it can give you an idea of potential problems to watch out for.
Wisdom Panel Essential is a great choice if you don’t mind missing out on the in-depth medical and carrier screening and the follow-up vet consultation that you’d get with our top pick, Wisdom Panel Premium.
With a high level of accuracy and detailed results, this DNA test is sure to satisfy every dog owner’s curiosity.
DNA My Dog
The third recommendation on our list of the best options for DNA testing for dogs, UK, is DNA My Dog.
The test is easily available with free shipping, and the results come in two weeks – quicker than with most other commercial DNA testing providers.
DNA My Dog provides reliable, reproducible breed information, with several samples from the same dog yielding the same results every time.
Thanks to a relatively large reference panel, the laboratory can compare your dog’s sample with the markers of over 100 different breeds.
To streamline the results and make them easier to take in, DNA My Dog uses ‘Levels’ rather than percentages for the breed breakdown.
Each Level represents a percentage range, where Level One means almost purebred and Level Five means a lower degree of genetic match.
At either end of the scale, there are Level S – meaning your dog is 100% purebred – and Level T, indicating trace amounts of breed markers.
At DNA My Dog, your pup’s results come with an additional document containing useful information on your dog’s breed breakdown.
You’ll learn all about the health concerns common to the breeds identified in your dog’s genome to help you better understand your four-legged friend. The info package also includes interesting facts and trivia about your dog’s breed(s).
As an added bonus, you’ll also get a print certificate with a summary of the test results. You can provide a photo of your pooch for the frame-worthy breed diploma!
All in all, DNA My Dog is a great choice for reliably testing your dog’s heritage. While not ideal for breeders requiring specific breed percentages, it’s an excellent alternative for curious dog owners.
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How to Choose the Right DNA Test Kit for a Dog
Now that we’ve reviewed our top recommendations for DNA testing for dogs UK, let’s delve deeper into the science behind the tests.
By finding out how canine DNA testing works, we can learn what factors go into making a test accurate and reliable.
This will lead us to the key features you should look out for when choosing your dog's DNA test kit.
How Do Dog DNA Tests Work?
When you order a canine DNA test, you’ll receive a kit for obtaining a sample from your dog. Virtually all kits feature two swabs with appropriate containers, along with instructions on how to properly take a sample.
Getting a sample is very straightforward: you just need to swab the inside of your dog’s cheek and follow the test manufacturer’s storage and packaging instructions.
Usually, the swabs should be left to air-dry for around thirty minutes before being placed in the containers provided in the kit.
Most people are familiar with this procedure since it’s the same as getting a human DNA sample. But do you know what happens next?
The sample you send in contains your dog’s DNA. A DNA test is used in the laboratory to read the dog’s genome – their genetic material.
Commercial tests don’t examine the entirety of the genome – DNA contains so much information that the process would be very long and incredibly expensive.
Instead, tests take a section of the DNA and look for biomarkers in specific locations within the genome.
Biomarkers (or biological markers) are, in this context, indicators of characteristics of each breed.
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DNA tests look for these biomarkers in your dog’s sample, comparing them to the breed-specific biomarkers in their own database in order to create a breed breakdown.
Canine DNA testing companies have breed reference panels, created using samples from purebred dogs.
For example, if a company has a breed reference pool of 50, it means that they have biomarkers from 50 different breeds. If your dog’s breed is not on a company’s breed reference panel, their biomarkers won’t register.
In short, breed testing companies compare a fragment of your dog’s DNA to the DNA of purebred dogs in their database. The bigger the firm’s database, the more accurate the results will be.
Key Features to Consider
There can be quite a lot of variation between test kits when it comes to the level of detail they offer.
These are the factors that separate them.
Accuracy is arguably the most important feature of a dog DNA test. After all, when you pay for a kit and analysis, you expect the results to be as close to the mark as possible!
What determines the accuracy of a DNA test? As we’ve already seen, it’s all down to the number of biomarkers and the size of the breed reference panel of a company.
The higher these two numbers are for a company, the more accurate the results will be.
For instance, Wisdom Panel uses 1,800 biomarkers across 350 different breeds. This enables them to provide much more accurate results than a company with 500 biomarkers across 200 breeds.
The size of the breed reference panel is especially important for mixed-breed dogs - a larger database provides more opportunities for matches.
It also matters for people with ‘exotic’ purebreds – the larger the panel, the higher the chance that the unusual dog breed will be on there.
How can you be sure that you’re sending the sample to a real lab that will actually provide you with reliable results?
The best way to ensure you’re not being conned is to choose a trustworthy company with an established market presence.
Alongside checking independent reviews of their products, see whether they’re registered as a company and how long they’ve been operating.
It’s good to choose tests from companies that not only have good reviews but are also transparent about their methods and database size.
In short, do some research on the test manufacturer before making a purchase.
Level of detail
Some tests only offer a brief overview of the breed markers found in your dog’s DNA – for instance, stating the dominant and secondary breeds in your dog’s genome.
Others give a more specific breakdown (by percentage) of the breeds that form your dog’s genetic makeup.
Before choosing a test, check the manufacturer’s website to see sample results and confirm whether they’re detailed enough for you.
How much is a dog DNA test? For most commercially available tests, the prices fall somewhere between £80 and £150.
Typically, the more expensive options will provide you with a broader set of insights into your dog’s DNA results than cheaper alternatives.
Laboratories can run additional screening on the sample to gain such information as health risks or your dog’s family tree.
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What Does DNA Testing for Dogs Offer?
Why analyse your dog’s DNA, anyway? Besides satisfying your curiosity about your pup’s ancestry, there are several reasons why finding out their exact breed is a good idea.
Getting to Know Your Dog Better
DNA testing can help you to better understand your dog and meet their needs more closely.
While every dog is different, specific breeds tend to come with certain personality and behavioural traits.
These are more than mere guesswork: many of these qualities result from the original purposes for which a certain breed was created.
For instance, working breeds (like herding dogs) tend to require more exercise, hunting breeds have a strong prey drive, and pack breeds are more likely to suffer from separation anxiety.
Learning about your dog’s ancestry can be useful when training, resolving behavioural issues, or just understanding your dog better.
What may seem like misbehaviour could simply be the result of their genetic makeup and unmet needs.
Identifying Potential Health Problems
Due to their genetic makeup, certain breeds are predisposed to particular health issues. For example, Cocker Spaniels suffer from hip dysplasia, atopy, and eye and ear problems more commonly than most other breeds.
Meanwhile, brachycephalic breeds – like Frenchies or Pugs – are more likely to experience respiratory issues.
No DNA test can accurately predict any future health problems in your dog, but knowing their breed can help you to identify health risks, take preventive measures, and react quicker.
For example, if you find out your mixed-breed pup is half Beagle, you’ll know to be more aware of the early signs of health problems specific to Beagles.
Of course, this knowledge is not a viable replacement for regular vet visits and health checks.
Being prone to a specific disease doesn’t mean that your dog will definitely develop it, nor does it mean he’s immune to other health risks.
Breed testing just gives you that little extra bit of information about your dog, helping to understand their needs better.
Confirming Breed Purity
Breeders use DNA testing to confirm that their dogs are fully purebred. Insights from DNA tests can also inform the choice of their strongest dogs for breeding or sale.
Limitations of Dog DNA Test Kits
While DNA analysis can give us plenty of fascinating and useful insights into our dog’s history, even the best dog DNA test comes with limitations.
Many owners of adult rescue dogs are disappointed to find that the tests can’t determine age. Although some manufacturers do promise age estimations, in fact, there is no DNA screening method for finding out the dog’s age.
Although DNA tests are excellent for identifying purebred and half-and-half dogs, results won’t be as reliable for dogs with a more complicated heritage.
If your dog has genetic material from eight different breeds or more, you’re likely to see unexpected results that won’t necessarily be accurate.
This is not so much due to the quality of the DNA tests themselves, but to the complicated nature of genetics in general.
Exact, accurate results are simply not possible to achieve with the current standard of commercially available scientific methods – at least not yet.
Regardless of the number of breeds in your dog’s genome, even the most reliable tests won’t be 100% accurate.
Some DNA test manufacturers offer screening to identify potential health problems your dog may develop.
In truth, current scientific methods aren’t accurate enough to really predict health risks based on DNA alone.
Your dog’s breed(s) can give you some indication of what health issues to be particularly aware of, and DNA screening can highlight genetic health risks for your dog.
Still, no DNA test can reliably tell you much about your dog’s future health, and definitely shouldn’t inform any treatment decisions.
If your dog’s DNA test reveals a health problem, definitely consult your vet – but don’t panic, keeping in mind that these things aren’t always fully accurate.