Are Dog DNA Tests Worth It? Here’s What Happened When I Tried It Out

by Amber
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When someone asks me what breeds my dogs are, my go-to answer is usually something like, “Dunno, but they’re 100% adorable!” Or if I’m feeling sassy, “I like big mutts and I cannot lie!” I’m not trying to be difficult, but like most shelter dog moms, I really don’t know how to answer that question—or at least I didn’t. There’s whatever the shelter put on the paperwork as their “best guess,” but we all know that’s rarely accurate. In all honesty, I don’t particularly care what breeds my dogs are. I know that I love them, and that’s all that really matters. But when Wisdom Panel’s dog DNA tests went on sale for Black Friday, my curiosity got the best of me.

What’s your guess?

My husband and I have been guessing our dogs’ breeds since the day we brought them home. And we’re always amused when random strangers give their guesses. So before I get into whether or not I think dog DNA tests are worth it, I want to know—what’s your guess? Once you get to the end of the article and learn their DNA results, you can make your own decision on its accuracy.

To make it fair, here’s some info.

Copper

Copper’s paperwork from the shelter says he’s a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. He has a lithe, athletic build and more energy than he knows what to do with. He’s the fastest dog I know and has a prey drive that’s through the roof. Copper is also the type of dog that picks his person and sticks to them. Cuddles are a must.

Bailey

Bailey was given the super generic label of “hound mix” from her friends at the shelter. Her fur is fairly wiry, and she has the most adorable mustache. She enjoys walks and short runs, but I wouldn’t call her an athlete. On her fat days, she’s not quiet 60 pounds. She’s also a super love bug and gives kisses like it’s her job.

Do you have your guesses? 

My Predictions

For Copper, the Rhodesian Ridgeback thing didn’t seem too far off. He doesn’t have the breed’s characteristic ridge, but everything else seemed to line up. I also thought he might be part Hungarian Vizsla—with his coloring and golden eyes. There are also people that assume he’s some kind of pit mix.

That’s a purebred Vizsla on the left and Copper on the right. I can’t be the only one that sees the resemblance! 

dog dna test

From the moment I saw Bailey being all cute at the shelter, I knew there was no way she was a hound mix. I thought that with her somewhat small ears and mustache, she must be some kind of terrier. I thought Irish Terrier or Airedale Terrier. Something with a knack for hunting mice, because this girl is probably better than any cat at catching and killing rodents.

When Wisdom Panel advertised their Black Friday sale this year, I took the opportunity to find out for myself if dog DNA tests are worth the money. I could guess all I wanted, but I have to admit I was curious to know about my babies’ family trees.

The process was easier than I thought.

My DNA kits came in the mail only a few days after I ordered them—much sooner than the predicted delivery date. It took me a week to actually corral my dogs and use them, but the entire process was as simple as it sounds. I tried to take pictures, but getting my big dogs to hold still while I shoved a swab in their mouths required both hands. I’ll let you use your imagination.

Neither of my dogs particularly enjoyed me rubbing the bristled swab against their cheek for 15-ish seconds, but we all made it out unscathed. Wisdom Panel makes the process extremely easy, and their directions are clear and easy to follow. They provide two sample swabs per kit and an ID number.

You use the ID number to register your DNA sample on the Wisdom Panel website. This also was pretty easy, but if you make a dumb mistake (like I did) it’ll take their customer service a few days to get back to you. They ended up solving my problem without much of a hassle, but I was delayed a few days while I waited for their response.

The next part in the process is the hardest—the waiting. Wisdom Panel says they’ll have your results in two weeks. I expected them to be busy with all the other people that also gave in to their Black Friday deal, but I got results back in nine days.

And here’s what the results said.

Let’s start with Bailey.

dog DNA test

My first thought on seeing these results was, “50% Staffordshire Terrier?? No way.” But then I thought about it. It actually made sense. She doesn’t have the big head or sleek fur, but she’s about the right size. And the area where she was found as a stray is particularly saturated with pit mixes. It’s not surprising that there would be a few American Staffordshire Terriers in her family tree.

I also patted myself on the back for getting Airedale Terrier right. Rottweiler was a bit of a surprise, but overall, everything seemed to line up. Wisdom Panel gives a range of what your dog’s weight most likely is, and Bailey was right in the middle. There’s not a hint of hound in her, but she’s undeniably a terrier mix.

Now for Copper.

dog DNA test

After viewing Bailey’s results first and being pretty happy with them, I was excited to look at Copper’s. But I have to admit, Copper’s results are disappointing. Like his adopted sister, Wisdom Panel says he’s 50% American Staffordshire Terrier. Not the Ridgeback or Vizsla I was expecting, but that still seemed plausible. The problem is the other 50%.

Wisdom Panel grouped the other half of his DNA into the super generic and unhelpful “companion breed” category. What does that even mean? Maybe I messed up the DNA sample, or maybe the other half of his lineage is so convoluted that the test couldn’t pick out specific breeds. Either way, it wasn’t what I was expecting.

How accurate was your guess?

My final thoughts.

Overall, I’m glad I tested my dogs’ DNA. I’m confident that Bailey’s results are as accurate as they can be. Copper’s are questionable, but the additional information provided in the report was still interesting. Wisdom Panel provides a family tree along with potential genetic health concerns. And now I can finally give an answer when someone asks me what breeds my dogs are. They’re still mutts, and they’re proof that you don’t need to spend big bucks on a purebred dog to get an intelligent, loyal, or obedient best friend. I apparently have two rescue pit mixes, and they’re two of the best things that ever happened to me.

If you’ve been thinking about getting a dog DNA test for your pooch, I say go for it. Wait for Wisdom Panel to have a sale if you want, but it’s interesting information that will make you feel even more bonded to your best friend.

Learn more about Wisdom Panel here.

dog dna test

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