DNA testing for dog owners involves gathering DNA from your pup and sending it in for testing. It can provide you with the basic information on your dog and will let you know if your dog is purebred or if it is not. If your dog is purebred, then you will get back an explanation of the purebred it is and what that involves. If your dog turns out to be a mixed breed, your dog’s DNA will show which breeds your dog contains and will tell you something about those breeds. It’s a great way to check on your dog and find out just what you have.
How to test the DNA
The first step is to gather your DNA. To do that, you generally need to wipe the inside of the mouth with a cotton swab. This collects the DNA-containing cells from inside the mouth and saves them for testing. Typically, you should collect not one but four swabs to ensure that you have enough material to check. It will also help you to make certain that you have enough DNA to test.
Once it is gathered, the DNA is studied by the lab to discover what type of dog you’ve submitted material for. They will compare the lab material to the various dogs they have in their files to come up with a breed or breed for your dog. They will then send those answers back to you to know what type of breed your dog is.
What type of breed do you have?
You could have any one of hundreds of kinds of dog breeds. If your pet is a mutt, you’ll likely have more than one, perhaps several. It all depends on what type of breed you have. If your pet is young, you might not know what kind of a breed he or she will grow up to be. When that’s the case, it’s beneficial to send in the DNA so that you’ll know what to expect as your dog gets older. But even if your dog is older, you’ll want to check the breed to learn various factors that might help you better understand your dog.
For instance, it can be beneficial to know when your dog will start acting more responsibly in your home. This often comes at a young age for small breeds, usually before a year, but in older dogs, you might have to wait until your dog is two years old, or even three, before he calms down.
Either way, it might be better to give your dog some time before racing to send in his DNA, but that’s especially true if your dog will be a big one. The best way to know for sure is to watch him and to see if he’s going to be calm enough for you to get some DNA to send in. It might be better to wait a bit before gathering it unless you have a reason to do it.
What about other things?
You might want to check your dog’s DNA for other reasons, too. One of these would be to know if your dog is going to be a big dog or not. Big breeds, as previously mentioned, take a long time to mature. They will often act like puppies until they are two or even three years old. It’s often beneficial for these dogs to get the DNA test as young as possible so that you’re prepared to spend more time waiting for your dog to mature.
But even if your dog is a small breed like a Chihuahua, it’s a good idea to get some DNA and send it in as early as you can. This will help you to be prepared for whatever your dog brings to you, whether it’s a wild childhood or is instead a sedate parade through puppyhood and into adult life. Both things are equally possible. Also, just because your pup is supposed to have a sedate trip through to adulthood doesn’t mean it will.
How do I collect the DNA?
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, collecting DNA from your dog is a relatively painless trip. You should be aware of some things, but outside of those, you mostly need to scoop up some of your dog’s DNA and drop it in the envelope, and you’re ready to go.
To gather it up, be sure you follow these directions:
First, take the cotton swab from the container it was sent to you in. Don’t use any other kind of cotton swab, or it won’t work. Note that the “cotton” swab may be made from polyester, but it should be one or the other and should not include anything else.
Next, wipe the inside of your dog’s cheeks with the first cotton swab. Make sure that he hasn’t been eating for at least half an hour before this. If he has, you should wait until he’s had at least half an hour first. This will make sure that your dog gives you pure, unadulterated juice from his cheeks and nothing else.
Once you’ve wiped the inside of your dog’s mouth, drop the swab immediately into the envelope or other container they’ve included as part of the test. This will make sure that only your dog’s saliva gets into the envelope. Don’t touch anything else with the swab.
Repeat these steps for each of the included swabs until you’ve done it for every swab they sent. Do NOT touch the swab or your hands to anything else. Don’t set the swab down, either, or you’ll have to toss it and do another one.
Is that it for DNA testing?
Yes, once you’ve done everything as described above, you are done. Wrap up the swabs and send them on their way to the collection center. Once they’ve been analyzed, you’ll receive a completed DNA test back, and it will tell you what kind of a dog you have. It’s a great experience.
Justin Miller is the co-founder of the pet blog Avid Pup. He is a passionate pet parent who loves to spend time with his Sibe, who keeps him active and social. Read more of his guides and tips by visiting the site.