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Breed and Genetics

Lifelong Benefits of DNA Testing Your Dog

Genetic testing reveals more than your dog’s breed. From identifying exercise needs to uncovering gene mutations, a DNA test equips you with the information you need to provide the best possible care for your pup.

What are the benefits of DNA testing for dogs?

If you’re like most people, you might answer, “breed identification.” And that’s certainly one benefit. But there’s so much more value a dog DNA test can offer.

Australian Puppy

Using DNA to Understand Your Dog’s Lifestyle Needs

A DNA test will reveal your dog’s breed make-up and ancestry, which is fun for any pet parent to know. But fun is just the tip of the iceberg. Because that genetic information can and should influence how you care for your pup from day-to-day.

For example… say you’re interested in adopting a shelter dog—let’s call her “Bella.” The adoption team probably took their best guess as to Bella’s breed mix when creating her profile. Unfortunately, that guess was likely wrong, at least in part.

After all, experts misidentify breeds about 75% of the time when judging by visual cues only. If even the pros are wrong more often than not, what hope do the rest of us have?

So, to be sure of Bella’s breed background, you test her using a Wisdom Panel™ kit. And in just a few weeks, you learn that Bella is a Border Collie and Australian Shepherd mix. (How cute!) Equipped with this knowledge, you can now create a pet care plan that plays to Bella’s natural interests and abilities.

Since Bella hails from the herding group of dog breeds, you can expect her to be a very high-energy, intelligent pup that loves to work. (Translation: She will need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. If she gets pent up or bored, she may take it upon herself to create things to do. Many owners—and couch cushions—find this out the hard way.)

On the other hand, if it had turned out that Bella was mixed with a breed more interested in naps on the couch than miles on the track—such as a Bulldog or Cavalier King Charles Spaniel—and you were hoping for a running buddy, you’d need to re-adjust your expectations or risk disappointing everyone involved.

By discovering your dog’s breed make-up and then educating yourself on what she likely needs (check out our dog breed library!) in terms of activity and enrichment, you can lay a good foundation for a happy life together.

adult Australian Shepherd lying down

How DNA Testing Can Help Personalize Veterinary Care

Beyond breed identification and the knowledge that comes along with it, DNA testing can also reveal genetic health concerns. Knowing if a dog carries disease-causing gene mutations is extremely helpful to a veterinarian as she plans lifelong preventive care for that dog.

Recently, we heard from a veterinarian who used results from a Wisdom Panel™ Health test to guide the recommendations she made for one of her patients. The DNA test revealed that the dog had two copies of the hyperuricosuria gene mutation. Dogs with two copies of this mutation are prone to developing stones in their bladders. 

These stones can cause inflammation and pain . And they sometimes even require surgical removal. In severe instances when the urinary tract is blocked, the condition can be life-threatening.

Because the veterinarian knew the dog was genetically predisposed to these bladder stones, she was able to put the dog on a special diet designed to reduce or eliminate the chance of these stones forming. Rather than having an expensive diagnosis sneak up after painful clinical signs appeared, this veterinarian was able to offer a simple solution before an issue developed.

Disease screening of this kind would be extremely valuable for our fictional pup, Bella, since she—like other dogs with a herding breed background—would be at risk for the multidrug sensitivity (MDR1) mutation. The MDR1 mutation causes pups to have severe adverse reactions to some common drugs. Knowing in advance whether Bella’s affected could prevent medical complications or even save her life.

adult Australian Shepherd by water

Get actionable insights with a DNA test for your dog

DNA testing enables you to better understand your canine companion, and it helps veterinarians assemble a healthcare plan based on your pup’s unique genetic characteristics.

Ready to discover the story hidden in your dog’s DNA?

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