DNA Your Dog (Testing Kits)

This popped up while I was watching YouTube. Really interesting and entertaining.

(19) Dog DNA testing kits: How accurate are they? (Marketplace) - YouTube

I actually used one of these companies for a dog I once had. NOW I can look back and say that “No, there probably was NOT any Chow Chow in my Pappy Lou…”

My DH and I have used Embark for 3 of our dogs. We didn’t upload pics or guess at breed. One came back exactly as expected (German shepherd), one surprisingly matched what the shelter had her advertised as (Catahoula leopard dog mix), and one was (I feel) completely off. It told me that my foxhound mix was Australian cattle dog and pit bull (I suspected she had pit because her head was blocky and her eyes a little slanted, plus we are in the South so practically every mix has some), but she was absolutely classic tri-color hound pattern and not brindle or merle like a cattle dog, plus she was tall and leggy.

We just did it for fun as our joint Christmas present.

Here’s another review of Embark and Wisdom by NYT Wirecutter: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-dog-dna-test/

I used Wisdom when I DNA’d Pappy Lou. They had Doberman, Chow Chow, and Golden Retriever, I think, for him.

Gabby (foxhound cross) and Alice (German shepherd).

Bella, Catahoula leopard dog mix.

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That study and subsequent article is very disappointing in that they used two “foreign” mutts to test with. It would have made much more sense to test with commonly available North American mutts.

That said, I already knew DNA my Dog was crap and had never heard of the other one that performed exceptionally poorly. I follow a sub-Reddit devoted to dog DNA. It’s very interesting. Both Embark and the newer version of Wisdom seem to test pretty accurately. A surprising number of people will test their dogs with both tests. I tested two dogs with Embark. One is spot on - she has GSD coloring stretched over a hound like frame. I saw her mother, who looked like a pit/lab mix. She came back with GSD, coonhound, bloodhound, pit bull and lab. Embark also found three of her littermates, which we were able to confirm by all getting them from the same foster home at the same time. The other one is a wacky mix of diverse breeds which makes me laugh, but I can believe it: boxer, golden retriever, rottweiler, Great Pyrenees, and Boston Terrier. The Boston Terrier shrunk down all those large breeds into a 40 pound dog.
(the GSD/hound is much bigger than this puppy picture now)


I’ve never thought these were worth the money to begin with. And yes, they compare to the database that they’ve amassed over time, so the two international rescues should not be easily identified. But it doesn’t really make any of the other results accurate. Unless your dog is a purebred, it’s impossible to really know the breeds involved as mixed breed x mixed breed is kind of a crapshoot.

Apparently Embark is getting pretty good, but there are still bugs I think. A lot of people in the LGD group I’m in have done their dogs and they get standard stuff like Pyrenees, Anatolian, etc but a LOT of them are coming back with a small percentage of Chihuahua. Enough that more people are testing just to see. It’s Embark and the other big brand one, not “DNA Your Dog” but I can’t remember the name of it.

I don’t know which brand my mom used but she did this for my sister and I’s dogs. We made it into a Maury themed party, and had some fun.

Zipper came back 25% chow, and a smattering of other breeds. She does have black spots on her tongue, and is aloof. Her ears are very short/dense - if they were set on her head different they would stand.

Remy came back 50% boxer. Lol, what?? I can wear his collars like a belt, and he weighs nearly 100#. Our guess is pit/mastiff. He is the chillest, laziest dog on earth.

Remy and Zip:

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He could easily be mastiff/boxer. Just because he has a bully head doesn’t mean he is a pitbull, but again, most pitbulls aren’t purebred anyway. They are mixes of various bully/working breeds.

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His weight, size, color, and head structure are just… not. Maybe some boxer, but half? Unlikely.

The other half was pitbull or staffordshire or whatever we are calling them these days.

What he is is a good boy. Except for cats. No cats.

Caveat: I didn’t read the whole thread.

I always wonder - how much can we reasonably expect of the genes to be displayed in the visual, external part of the dog? Would it not be reasonable to think that some part of the genetics will not be visually evident, and instead be represented only by other parts of the animal?

E.g., maybe your chihuahua x cocker spaniel x pit mix looks 90% pit, 10% chi, and instead has the liver function of a spaniel? (Using extremes to demonstrate a point)

I guess I’m asking, why do we assume genetics will always be on display in the physically evident capsule? Why don’t we assume some genetics will be hidden from us, yet still be present? That would explain why some GSD mixes come back with something like chihuahua, even if they look nothing like a chihuahua.


Exactly. A breeder friend has two breeds and had an unprecedented oops litter - that resulted in very well bred mixed breed puppies. She has been very open about this (after the initial shock and dismay) whereas many other breeders would likely have never admitted that it happened. I’m posting a puppy photo and see if you can guess which two breeds were the parents:

image image

They are not a great photos; sorry the one is so small but that gives you an idea of the body/tail. The tail is medium length and curls over the back a little. 5 yellow-ish puppies and 1 black one. They all otherwise look like this one in the face.

We used the Wisdom Panel on our “Carolina Road Dog”. We took it at entertainment value and it was our joint Christmas gift to each other.

My guess was Beagle/Labrador or Hound/Labrador
Mr Yankee thought pitbull mix
She was listed on the shelter site as a “Labrador Cross” but a friend pointed out that a lot of the “labrador crosses on this site look like pitbulls” :joy:

She came back as… 33ish% pitbull/Staffordshire terrier and 15% American foxhound and a smattering of other dogs of 7% or less.

I see it.


25% shepherd, 12.5% boxer, chow, lab, some Staff. Terrier and a big bunch of “other”. Interestingly she is very laid back and chow-like in some ways. When excited she bounces and acts much like the boxers we had when I was young.

Mango, there is something about your grey-faced dog’s face and expression that makes me think Jack Russell. In fact, she very much reminds me of a Lab/JR cross that belonged to a neighbor.

The head of the one in the larger photo reminds me of a Golden Retriever. The other pic is too small to make any sort of guess.

How big did these cuties get?

Agreed, the photos are not good. I don’t have any better ones unfortunately.

My guess will be they will top out at about 40lbs max.
Double coat, one black pup in the litter, curly tail.


OK, I’ll give you a hint. One parent looks like this (this are my dogs, not the actual parent):

It’s not a good hint. I doubt you could guess the other breed. But do you see this at all in the puppy? Here’s the pup on the right at the same age:

My guess for the other parent is Chow.

So Brittany crossed with something else. I was leaning toward Golden Retriever for the head shape, expression, and color - plus an undercoat (although they don’t have the type of double coat I associate with some breeds like my Welsh Terrier). But since you said there was a black one in the litter - could the other parent be a Lab? Or a Cocker Spaniel? Also, there is something about the tiny picture that makes me think Spitz or Chihuahua. I have no idea how color genetics works in any of those breeds, though!

Also - when Brittany tails are not cropped, do they curl over the back? And could the white markings on the paws come from the Brittany?

And yes, I am just guessing!