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DNA dog tests: Do they REALLY work? Here's what we found out

Posted at 9:49 PM, Feb 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-02 00:30:13-05

More and more people are pushing to find out more about their ancestry through genetic testing — but what about our furry companions? Dogs have history too! 

But how do DNA tests stack up for our furry friends? ABC15 wanted to find out. 

We couldn't think of anyone better to help us test the process than Larry, ABC15's Nick Ciletti's rescue. He's a French Bulldog (or so we think!) 

In 2015, Larry was adopted from MCSO's MASH Unit after a puppy mill bust in Tonopah. There were pugs at the puppy mill and Larry has the same coloring as an English Bulldog, so there was some suspicion that maybe he wasn't full Frenchie. 

We went to Amazon to look up three popular DNA tests, ranging in price from $50-$85. We used The Wisdom Panel, DNA My Dog Breed and another from Viaguard Accu-Metrics. 

All three had a very similar testing process: swab your dog's cheek with a big Q-tip for about 20 seconds then send it back in specially-marked packaging so it makes it to a lab. 

The Wisdom Panel was the most expensive, but it also claims to test for the most breeds — more than 250. 

The other two were cheaper, but don't test for as many breeds and you have to use your own stamps to send it back to the lab. 

With all three tests, results were ready in roughly two weeks. 

Speaking of those results, what were Larry's?

At first, it was a tie! The Wisdom Panel said he was 100 percent Frenchie, but the Accu-Metrics test said he was part English Bulldog as well. 

It all came down to the DNA My Dog Breed exam, which said Larry was, in fact, a purebred French Bulldog. 

"It's a fun tool if you want to just establish a pedigree for your dog," explained Dr. Tara Piech from Midwestern University. "Especially for mixed breeds who you really don't know what they're made of."

But when it comes to DNA testing for possible health problems, Dr. Piech said to use them with caution. 

"I don't want owners to take that info and think, 'Oh my God! My dog is going die' or that your dog is definitely going to get that disease," Piech said.

Instead, Dr. Piech recommends reviewing those results with a veterinarian or someone at a university/research setting to verify everything before you have a Mastiff-sized meltdown.