I’ve always wondered what breed my dogs actually are. Is Mort actually an Australian Kelpie mix or really an Australian Cattle Dog mix? Or is he all terrier? And what about Tig… is she really the English Shepherd that she acts and looks like? Or is she a mix of some other breeds? As time goes on and databases expand, we have a chance at finding out what breeds our dogs are. And the value of this information goes beyond interest and conversation points: it can help you determine whether your dog may be susceptible to conditions that run in breed lines. Continue reading to learn why canine DNA information is useful, and a special deal you can take advantage of if you attend an event right here in California!

Note: This post was sponsored by Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 3.0.

Why does breed DNA information matter?

Dog genetics can be especially important for a few reasons. Some genetic information can indicate health issues, and it can also be important to know when trying to sort out what health issues to watch for. For example, if hip dysplasia is prominent within a certain breed, knowing your dog may be predisposed to that issue can help you watch for signs of the disease or condition. It can also help you develop an appropriate diet and supplementation plan for your dog with typical breed health concerns in mind.

If your dog is young and hasn’t yet fully grown, or you are considering adopting a particular dog (and have the luxury of time), a genetic test can help determine potential size and temperament characteristics that are common in the breed. Of course, temperament can be adjusted through socialization and training but genetics also play a very prominent role in overall behavior (for example, a typical working breed often has very different behavioral traits than a typical terrier and you would approach training in different ways).

MDR1 Genetic Mutation screening

Mars Veterinary is launching the latest version of their canine DNA test (Wisdom Panel® 3.0), which now includes expanded breed screening coverage and additional medical applications such as MDR1 Genetic Mutation screening. MDR1 or Multi-Drug Resistance 1 is a genetic mutation found in some herding, sighthound and mixed-breed dogs and can be responsible for adverse reactions to some medications. Therefore, screening can be an important step to take before administering certain medications.

For more information on MDR1 Genetic Mutation screening, see Wisdom Panel’s MDRI screening page and always consult with your trusted veterinarian with any questions and concerns.

How reliable are the tests, and how do they work?

Genetic tests vary in quality, and have come a long way over the years it seems. Your dog’s DNA information is checked against a growing database of DNA information (over 10,000 samples) – the more information, the more accurate the results. The Wisdom Panel test now covers over 250 breeds (including mixes), in addition to some medical screenings as mentioned above. According to Wisdom Panel:

The swabs then undergo processing to extract the DNA from your dog’s cells which are then examined for the 321 markers used in the test. The results of these markers are sent to a computer that evaluates them using a proprietary algorithm designed to consider all of the possible pedigree trees in the last three generations….For each of the millions of combinations of ancestry trees built and considered, the computer gives each a score representing how well that selected combination of breeds matched to your dog’s data.

The canine DNA test can be performed at home, and involves swapping your dog’s gum line for 15 seconds then sending it in to the lab. You’ll get the results a few weeks later. The cost of shipping in your swab is included in the price of the kit, which you can get at Wisdom Panel’s site.

Check the Wisdom Panel site for which breeds are currently on their list. English Shepherds aren’t on it yet, so Tig and I will have to wait on that one! At least she has been given the thumbs up by a good number of English Shepherd enthusiasts and breeders that she’s part of their flock (one even said “she looks more English Shepherd than some of the English Shepherds I know!”… so we’ll go with that in the mean time). Once they do, I’ll test both the dogs to see what they are. And of course, if I ever need a drug where MDR1 testing is called for the dog(s) will absolutely be screened in advance – especially since I suspect both are herding breeds based on herding evaluations we’ve done in the past!

Upcoming events

Wisdom Panel will also be at the following events to share more information about Wisdom Panel 3.0 and educate on the benefits of Canine DNA testing. You’ll also be able to get a kit at a discounted rate ($49.99, regularly $84.99), or test your dog for a discounted rate ($39.99) at some of the events. Here’s the upcoming 2015 event dates and locations:

  • April 10-12: America’s Family Pet Expo in Costa Mesa, CA – no swabbing

  • June 4-7: GoPRO Mountain Games in Vail, CO – swabbing

  • August 1: Amazing Pet Expo in Austin, TX – swabbing

  • October (date TBD): Mars Pet Adoption Fair in Franklin, TN – swabbing

  • December 5: Amazing Pet Expo Holiday in Pomona, CA – swabbing

Please refer to the Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel for any changes and updates before traveling to an event.

To learn more about Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel

You can find out more about Wisdom Panel 3.0 dog breed DNA tests, and follow updates on social media for information about events and deals.

Web: WisdomPanel.com

Facebook | Twitter @WisdomPanel | Instagram: @WisdomPanel | Pinterest: @WisdomPanel

Note: This post was sponsored by Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 3.0.

About Author

Jen deHaan is graphic designer, small business owner, and dog person living in Bay Area, California. Jen enjoys learning about dog training and behavior, and has taken several courses and seminars since 2010. She also contributes articles to leading websites, such as Victoria Stilwell's Positively . It all started with a great dog called Mikey (aka "dude"), loved and lost but remembered forever. Jen also runs a freelance business focusing on graphic, web, and UI design at FoundPixel, and a small business creating hand crafted dog products at Stylish Canine.

  • Sue

    We did the Wisdom Panel testing on Rosie and got the surprise of our life. Though the shelter said her mother was a Golden Retriever (and still insists that is true), the results show Rosie is a real Heinz 57: 12% Akita, 12% Smooth Fox Terrier, 12% Labrador Retriever and the rest – indeterminate. We’ve had a good laugh about our little Akita girl, but doing the tests really didn’t help us with health issues to be on the lookout for, etc. Not knocking the Wisdom Panel. It just turned out Rosie wasn’t what everyone thought she might be.

  • I have done Wisdom Panels on both Neeko and Faolan. Neeko’s results were VERY believable, while Faolan’s left me scratching my head a bit. I think it is such a neat concept.

    • +1 here! I was super skeptical a few years ago, but now want to get it done with the increased data they have on hand. I truly think it\’ll be not-terribly-useful with Tig (after attending some English Shepherd gatherings I\’m so convinced she\’s one of them, and English Shepherd isn\’t in the database!), but I\’m fascinated to hear what it says about Mort. Sheesh- should just do it and see what they say :) Might have to change my Instagram tags if he\’s actually a cattledog! LOLI wonder if the dogs who get the crazy results is because they\’re something that isn\’t in the database, and it goes haywire. I don\’t know enough about the technology though to even make a good guess though.

    • FWIW, I ran across this information on taking DNA tests – quite interesting: http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3IK5S0V6BW0XX/

  • Jen

    I waited a long time before actually buying one for the same reasons. I was so worried it would come back as something far fetched. I’ve heard sgtudies cite an 84% accuracy but I think the actual swab taken is a big contributor which can be easily manipulated depending on the handling. Anyways I don’t regret buying one – Laika ended up being Shepherd – Rottweiler – Pit – Bernese Mountain Dog according to the test. Now if it hadn’t shown any Shepherd I would have been pretty skeptical.

  • FWIW, I ran across this information on taking DNA tests – quite interesting on how to take one correctly, etc: http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3IK5S0V6BW0XX/