We Tested our Dog's DNA and Here's What Happened

We did the Embark Dog DNA Test for Christmas and I wanted to write about our experience and share our experience with others. These are 100% my own thoughts and opinions and I wanted to share how it went for us with those considering doing a DNA test for their dog. Embark did NOT send this kit to me, nor did they pay me to write this. 


For months now, Adam and I have been guessing and wondering what kind of dog Bowie is. Some people have looked at him and said he definitely looks like an Australian Shepherd, while others have said he looks like all kinds of dogs like a Bernese mountain dog, a collie, a German shepherd, and even a labrador. But we never really knew for sure. When we adopted him from the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA in Chandler, they told us what they believed was true and equipped us with as much information as they could about our little rescue puppy. 

My mom gifted us with a dog DNA test kit from Embark for Christmas this year, and we decided to do the test results and surprise Adam with it on Christmas morning. Today, I am sharing my experience doing a dog DNA kit and my takeaways from it (and whether or not I would recommend it if you have been considering it). 

The Process: 

My mom ordered the Embark Dog DNA Test on Amazon and had it shipped to me via Amazon Prime on December 2. I received the kit in a poly mailer and it arrived in a box.  I figured we would have plenty of time to do his test, send it in, and then receive the results back so that I could get them together to present to Adam on Christmas morning. 

When I opened the box, it was very clearly labeled with 3 steps I needed to take. The packaging was minimal but also very straightforward, which made me feel confident when I was getting everything set up to get Bowie's DNA sample. The next day, on December 3, I began the process of his getting DNA. 

The first step required me to activate an account on the Embark website. Signing up on the website prompted me with including my contact information as well as some information about Bowie (e.g. where he lives now, where we got him from, if we got him from a breeder vs. shelter vs. street, etc). Then, once you enter the information about your dog, your next step is that the website requires you to put in your activation code from the box. This is what links your DNA results to your account, so make sure that you input this information into their system correctly. For whatever reason, whether it be their website being heavy with traffic on their website since the day before was Cyber Monday or whatever, I got an error message when I put in the numbers exactly correct and I had to contact customer service to get my account set up. For a product that regularly retails for $200, this was NOT the most pleasant way to start my DNA process. 


After I emailed customer service, they did respond to my request just 6 hours later which for a large company is good customer service response time. The associate was kind and willing to help me resolve the issue I had with activation. 


The quick response from customer service was reassuring, and once the DNA kit was activated, I was able to go about collecting and sending off Bowie's DNA for testing. 

How Long Did it Take?

For my personal experience with the DNA kit, it took a total of 17 days from the time the DNA kit started tracking in the mail until the moment I got an email with all of Bowie's DNA results (on the 16th day, I received his health results email and then on the 17th day I got his breed results). They told me that it could take 30+ days, but the results ended up coming in early. 


The Reveal: 

Revealing Bowie's DNA test to Adam for Christmas morning went a little bit like this---I wrapped up the empty DNA kit to give to him to open first. When he opened it up, a big smile crossed his face and he turned right to Bowie and said: "we can find out what kind of dog you are, dude!" And then I said, "there's another part to this gift" and sat him down at my computer which had the DNA results video loaded and ready for him to watch. 


I had already watched the video and had my own reaction to it, so it was even more amusing to see Adam's initial reaction already knowing the truth. As dumbfounded as I was, Adam was in disbelief after watching the video. Our 'mutt' was in no way, shape, or form the kind of dog that the local shelter had told us that he was. 


Bowie's Results:

For those who are curious to see what a breakdown of Bowie's DNA looks like, here is some of the data we got back from Embark. 

Our results came with an extensive list of conditions that he was tested for, as well as a rundown of DNA-linked traits and behavioral data linked directly to his breed breakdown. For example, since Bowie is part American Pit Bull Terrier, this explains a lot about his strong gait and the way that he walks. Oh, and the part Chow Chow explains the soft and fluffy hair. Most shepherd hair we have seen and touched feels more course, but Bowie's hair is totally fluffy and super soft like a Chow's.




Pros:

Learning about his genetics has given us peace of mind knowing that he is not at immediate risk for any major health concerns, and we also learned that he does carry genes for 1 genetic condition (which is Hyperuricosuria and Hyperuricemia or Urolithiasis---i.e. kidney and bladder stones). 


On a less medical note, it's also just really fun to figure out what kind of mutt he is and it was quite hilarious to learn that he was in no way, shape, or form an Australian Shepherd like the shelter lead us to believe (which is fine because we don't care what he is and we love him no matter what!) 


Cons:

I would have to say the biggest con other than the price point is the waiting period. We live in a world of instant gratification, so it was hard to sit by waiting for the results even though they did come before they were projected to come. 

Would I recommend it? 

For the price that it costs and the amount of time that it took, I would still recommend doing this if your dog is a mixed breed. For those who are almost entirely certain of a dog's breed or if it's close to or near-perfect purebred, I would say you could probably pass on doing this. This is more ideal for those who go to a shelter and rescue a dog they know little to nothing about. 

Be sure to share this with someone who's considering doing a dog DNA test, and if you've done a dog DNA test before, leave a comment below and share your experience with us!



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23 comments

  1. This would be neat to do. I would be curious! I need to see if I can do this with my cats.

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    1. I am almost certain I saw someone like that on Shark Tank once! I will have to Google it and see if I can find the name of the company that offers cat DNA!

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    2. Okay I took a few seconds and looked it up. I definitely saw it on Shark Tank---the company is called Basepaws! They do cat DNA testing.

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  2. The results are so interesting and I never would have guessed the majority of his genes were pitbull. I am sure with all the mix of chromosomes he must be very healthy and will live a long life.

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  3. It seems Bowie is 100% dog :) I have a poodle myself, but it would be interesting to see her genetic makeup anyway. It could reveal any potential health issues.

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  4. What an experience. I had no idea that they offered this DNA test for dogs, but it makes sense. I'm sure waiting would have driven me a little bonkers too!

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    1. Yeah! I think it's a relatively new technology---I know they had it before, but I think you had to go through your vet to get it done and now it's entirely consumer-based.

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  5. Bowie sure is handsome! I'm glad he is healthy and having the knowledge about the gene for kidney and bladder stones could be really helpful in the future.

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  6. I think this is such a great idea. I don't have a dog, but I know I'd love to get one sometime. I'm sure I'll be trying this out some day as well.

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    1. I think it's a great idea as well and I had heard about it before we got ours from my mom. I'd considered doing it and was always on the fence, hence why I thought it'd be worth sharing our experience so others can read about it!

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  7. I have always wondered about these tests. I think it would be so interesting especially when you don't know the breed your dog is.

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  8. Tiffany La Forge-GrauJanuary 15, 2020 at 10:16 AM

    That actually sounds like it would be a lot of fun. I would love to learn more about my beagles!

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  9. Mama Maggie's KitchenJanuary 16, 2020 at 12:46 AM

    This is really interesting to know. It's sad not having a fur baby in our house but I'm sure many will be glad to use this.

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  10. I can’t believe Bowie is pit bull! I would have never thought that! He’s beautIful though!

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