Now it may be possible to answer this question. Companies specializing in dog DNA testing are enticing owners who are curious about their mutations. Owners may also decide to test so they can take the information to their veterinarians to discuss potential health issues for their purebred dog.
Priced at CHF 60 and up, the tests are available online and at many pet supply retail stores. All kits test for DNA via a cheek swab, except for the most expensive, Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel Professional, which requires a blood test at a veterinarian (call your local veterinarian for pricing).
Not surprisingly, like most products, not all dog breed DNA tests are created equal. The more breeds in a company's database, the greater the chance for accuracy in their results, says Nathan Sutter, PhD, assistant professor of medical genetics at Cornell University. And generally, the more dog breeds the company has in its database, the more expensive the test.
Sutter says these dog DNA tests can usually identify the majority breeds in a dog with high accuracy. “But if a dog is mixed breed and comes from a large number of breeds, each with just a small contribution to the total, then the breed test may be unable to identify most or all breeds contribute to the dog,” he says. Sutter says if a dog has purebred parents or grandparents, the results are very accurate.
James Belzer was still interested in confirming his suspicions that 13-year-old girl was a Husky/German Shepherd mix. So the Manhattan executive agreed, at MyStetho's request, to try three brands of dog breed DNA testing: Heritage Canine, DDC Veterinary, and Mars Veterinary's other option, Wisdom Sign.
All dog DNA tests Belzer has tried use a cheek swab sample to compare DNA against a number of major breeds. These dog DNA test kits were created to identify dogs of mixed heritage. Purebred confirmation is available via further testing.
Here are the DNA tests used by Belzer and their cost at the time he did the test:
Wisdom Panel, Cost: CHF 79.99, Tests the dog's DNA against 170 different breeds. Results: Composed of at least 50% Siberian Husky and 25% Border Collie
Heritage Breed Test, Cost: 99.95 CHF, Tests the dog's DNA against 105 different breeds. Results: Siberian Husky as a secondary breed (The Canine Heritage only lists the primary breed if the dog has a purebred parent), with German Shepherd in the mix.
DDC Veterinarian, Cost: $68, Tests the dog's DNA against 62 different breeds. Results: Level 1 Siberian Husky, at least 75% compound, Level 4 German Shepherd , composed between 10% and 19%.
"It was pretty easy," Belzer says of the collection process. After he sent the completed test kits to each company, the results came within two to four weeks.