Dog DNA testing takes off, and generates debate

Uncertainty about Standards and Limitations.  

As people peer into DNA for clues to health and heritage, man’s best friend is under the microscope, too.

Genetic testing for dogs has surged in recent years, fueled by companies that echo popular at-home tests for humans, offering a deep dive into a pet’s genes with the swab of a canine cheek. More than a million dogs have been tested in little over a decade.

The tests’ rise has stirred debate about standards, interpretation and limitations. But to many dog owners, DNA is a way to get to know their companions better.

“It put some pieces of the puzzle together,” says Lisa Topol, who recently tested her mixed-breed dogs, Plop and Schmutzy. Plop was the top-scoring mixed-breed, and Schmutzy also competed, in Saturday’s agility contest at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York. Judging toward the coveted best-in-show prize begins Monday.

tedA test by Embark — which this fall became Westminster’s first DNA-testing partner — confirmed Topol’s guess that her high-octane pets are more Australian cattle dog than anything else. But Schmutzy’s genetic pie chart had surprise ingredients, including generous amounts of Labrador retriever and Doberman pinscher.

Huh? Topol thought at first. And then: Maybe Schmutzy’s love of water and fetching is her inner Lab coming out. And doesn’t she walk a bit like a Doberman?

“They are the dogs that they are,” said Topol, a New York advertising executive. “They’re unique, and they’re special.” But the testing “makes me understand them better.”

According to media reports, canine DNA testing for certain conditions and purposes goes back over two decades, but the industry took off after scientists mapped a full set of dog genes and published the results in 2005.

Wisdom Health, part of pet care and candy giant Mars Inc., launched a breed-identification test in 2007, added a health-screening option a few years later, and says it has now tested over 1.1 million dogs worldwide. Numerous other brands are also available.

Mass-market tests have fueled research and helped animal shelters attract adopters by providing more information about prospective pets. DNA can back up purebred dogs’ parentage and help breeders try to eliminate certain diseases.

 

 

To read more, subscribe to Buddy Life!

CURRENT ISSUE

FACEBOOK

16 hours ago

Buddy Life Magazine

Enjoy this...

The Dodo
4-year-old talking to her pugs is 💯
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 day ago

Buddy Life Magazine

Laugh out loud....

So Funny
Golden retreivers = PURE LOVE ❤️
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

4 days ago

Buddy Life Magazine

This is what happens when the fur babies fall ill....

Animal Tales
Dog: "*coughcough* so sick."
Me: "Are you really sick or do you just want me to stay home from work with you?"
Dog: "...we snuggle now?"
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

7 days ago

Buddy Life Magazine

sample this now...

Woof Woof
It's 'National Golden Retriever Day!' Here's exactly why you need one! 😍
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

7 days ago

Buddy Life Magazine

Cute and independent at the same time..

The Dodo
SMART 👏 INDEPENDENT 👏 DOGGOS 👏
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

INSTAGRAM

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Buddy Life Magazine