A relatively new field of scientific exploration is canine DNA testing. It is quickly becoming a useful tool for professional breeders, veterinarians and dog owners. As in the testing of human DNA, Canine DNA testing can be employed to find the answers to several different but related tasks. These range from medical research to ancestry searches.
The most common reasons why you might seek canine DNA testing are
• to see if your dog has any predisposition toward certain medical problems or issues.
• to discover if there are or may be any hereditary anomalies
• to prove the dog is indeed a purebred
• to obtain some insight into the specific canine’s behavioral traits
• to establish a DNA ancestry
• to have a record on file in case of theft
• to discover which breeds comprise your favorite mixed-breed dog
Companies are coming up with increasingly specialized testing. They are designing kits used specifically for identifying nose and coat color. They do DNA sexing and DNA banking. As time goes on, there will probably more reasons to ask for a doggy DNA test. Some of these will be medical; some will be for breeding purposes and still others will focus on personal reasons.
There are 2 distinct types of DNA testing. One requires you use the services of a veterinarian. The other allows you to give the test in the comfort and security of your home or kennel. The 2 types use either blood or saliva to determine the specific DNA markers in your canine.
• Blood Test. This is a DNA test you must do in conjunction with your vet. He or she draws a sample of your dog’s blood. Your vet then sends it to a lab or testing company.
This test can be more expensive than a saliva DNA test.
• Saliva Test. This DNA test begins at home. You first purchase a kit. These kits are geared toward testing for specific DNA reasons. Some, for example, are designed to concentrate on coat or nose coloring while others focus on specific diseases.
Once you have arranged for the right kit for your testing, you start the process. It is simple, if your dog co-operates. You use the supplied material, usually a soft bristled nylon brush, to swab the inner cheek. This will provide you with a DNA sample for testing.
The next step is to mail the sample off to the laboratory who designed the kit. They will undertake the requested testing and get back to you within a week or more.
A DNA will not provide you with all the answers. It will identify the ancestry of your dog within a limited scope. The limitations are the result of the DNA dog bank they can access.
If your breed or breeds are not part of the test markers, your test may fail. Your sample will simply not fall within the abilities of a specific test. If it is successful, or at least partially so, the DNA will identify your canine’s ancestors accordingly
• Primary Category - This is the breed or breeds that comprise 50% or greater of the DNA composition sample.
• Secondary - These are the easily identified markers.
• In-the-mix - This refers to the breeds that have the least influence.
You are usually supplied with a complete readout of the results. Many testing labs also provide you with a certificate. You can choose to frame it and hang it on display for all to see.
Canine DNA testing is a new tool for dog lovers and veterinarians. It is a way of finding out your dog’s ancestors. Limited by the test pool, it nevertheless provides you with an exciting scientific way of knowing whom or what your dog is.