Getting a dog DNA test kit for your furry friend is an extremely popular choice these days. If you stop someone on the street and ask about their dog, even if it’s a mutt, they likely have some detailed information on their pet’s background. That’s all thanks to dog breed DNA tests!
There is even a holiday called National Mutt Day, which happens every year on July 31! Let’s take a deep dive into dog DNA testing: the benefits, costs, and accuracy, and how to find the best dog DNA test for your needs.
What Is National Mutt Day?
The National American Veterinary Community (NAVC) is “celebrating mutts of all shapes, colors and sizes” on July 31. The day was created in 2005 by Colleen Paige, an animal welfare advocate. It’s also celebrated on December 2.
National Mutt Day is all about celebrating these unique creatures and keeping them safe and in happy homes. To better celebrate this holiday, we need to understand:
- What a mutt is
- Why they make great dogs
- Ways we can support these awesome animals
What Is a Mutt?
Mutt is a term that refers to a mixed-breed dog. Other terms for mixed-breed dogs include mix, mongrels, half-breeds, crossbreeds, and hybrids, though the words crossbreed and half-breed imply that the dog descended from only two distinctive breeds, rather than several. The alternative to a mutt is a purebred dog, which means all of that dog’s ancestors were members of the same breed.
Why Mutts Make Great Dogs
Many people choose purebred dogs because they can easily predict that animal’s size and behavior characteristics, but that can also be true for mutts, as well! Especially with the recent popularity of dog DNA testing, it can be very easy to know what to expect from a mutt’s growth cycle and behavior. That said, it’s important to remember that no dog – even a purebred – is ever 100 percent predictable. Our pooches are full of surprises!
Mutts are also great pets because they tend to be hardy and healthy. Diseases and health conditions tend to filter out with the more natural selection of breeding rather than the potential inbreeding among purebred dogs.
Plus, mutts are often incredibly cute – think shepherd body with golden retriever ears and basset hound eyes. The mix-and-match look of mutts tends to be a little funny and very endearing!
How to Celebrate National Mutts Day
The best way to celebrate National Mutts Day is by adopting a mutt and welcoming them into your home! It won’t take long to see why people are so passionate about their mixed breed dogs. But if your home is already full, there are other ways to support these animals, too:
- Donate money or supplies to an animal rescue of your choosing
- Volunteer to walk a mutt at the local shelter
- Educate your friends and family about mutts
- Download and use the mutt wallpaper designs provided by NVAC
- Learn your mutt’s breed breakdown with a dog DNA test
Everything You Need To Know About the Dog DNA Test
The dog DNA test has risen in popularity along with human DNA tests like 23andMe, giving people information about their ancestry. With a single cotton swab in the mouth, science can generate a wealth of information about our dogs and us!
If you’re looking to learn about your dog’s breed makeup, you probably have a mutt, and you’re curious to know their background. Curiosity is a perfectly good reason to go forward with these tests, and it can also be beneficial for your animal’s health. To decide if which test is right for you and your furry friend, you’ll need answers to the following questions:
- What are the benefits of knowing a dog’s breed?
- How much is a dog DNA test?
- How accurate are dog DNA tests?
- How do I use a testing kit?
Why Would I Want to Know My Dog’s DNA?
We love our mutts just as they are, so some owners might be wondering: Why would I ever want a dog DNA test?
Knowing what breeds your dog is made of can help identify breed-specific traits and health issues your pet might face. For example, if you learn your dog has some Golden Retriever DNA, you might choose to give them a little hip and joint support because golden retrievers often struggle with hip dysplasia. Like humans benefit from knowing their health history to plan and take better care of themselves, knowing your dog’s general breed makeup can help you create the best wellness plan for your furry friend.
What Are the Best Dog DNA Tests?
The best dog DNA tests are the ones that are the most accurate, and their accuracy will be dependent on a number of factors. One factor is the number of breeds available in their database. The more breeds they have, the more likely they can get a clear, precise breakdown of what your pooch is made of exactly.
One of the most highly reviewed tests is Embark. Their test can identify breeds in your dog even if they only make up 5% of their DNA. It has more than 350 breeds in its database.
Another popular option is Wisdom Panel, which also has a database of more than 350 breeds. Their tests are reportedly up to 93 percent accurate.
There aren’t many of these tests on the market, so your choice will be relatively easy. Do some research on these two popular choices and look at smaller, less expensive options like Orivet and DNAMyDog. Only you can decide which one is best for you and your mix-breed doggo!
Costs Associated with Learning Your Dog’s Breeds
Of course, one of a pet owner’s early questions will be, how much is a dog DNA test going to cost me? Costs vary but are typically over $100. Embark’s most detailed test results cost about $200, and a basic test from Wisdom Panel costs about $100. It’s not a negligible expense, but most dog owners say it’s worth it – especially if it means you can provide better healthcare for your pooch. Dog DNA tests also make great gifts for the dog mom or dad in your life!
How Accurate Are Dog DNA Tests?
The testing kits made for dogs aren’t as accurate as the ones developed for humans, but they are often so precise that they can predict your pet’s coat color without ever having seen him!
Accuracy touts at or above 95 percent. Because the way these companies do their actual testing is a proprietary secret, it can be hard to verify these numbers.
How to Use a Dog DNA Test Kit
Depending on what testing service you choose to use, your kit should come with clear instructions. The process is usually three simple steps:
- Activate your account online
- Swipe your dog’s cheek using the provided swab
- Package it up and mail it to the lab using a prepaid envelope
Learn Your Dog’s Breeds and Celebrate Them on National Mutt Day
The dog DNA test kit offers wonderful ways to get some insight into your special mutt. Having a mish-mash of different breeds can be fun, and knowing what those breeds are can help you take better care of your best friend. Choose the best dog DNA test for your purposes and find out your pet’s unique heritage and individuality!