21 and My Dogs - Your experience with Breed Identification tests?
August 21, 2019 11:16 AM   Subscribe

I want to get some Doggo DNA tests to figure out the breeds of my mystery mutt rescues, but they are expensive as heck! Would love to hear about your experiences with these mail-in tests (e.g. Wisdom Panel, DNA My Dog, etc)

I have two rescues, one is 6 and the other is 1 - they sort of look like each other but in different shades of brown. We get asked all the time what breeds they are but have no idea! Did my obligatory precedent search and the last post was 2008.

I've heard that Wisdom Panel is more accurate (and detailed) then DNA My Dog, but it also costs about 2x as many smackeroos. I live in Canada if that will make a difference.

Dog Tax
posted by vespertinism to Pets & Animals (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Welp, I also just realized that the service is called 23andme and thus the reference in my post is wrong. Sadness.
posted by vespertinism at 11:23 AM on August 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Dogs have 39 pairs of chromosomes to the human 23, so, just hope that people don't know the precise number?
posted by jacquilynne at 11:30 AM on August 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

I used Embark and I loved it! It’s expensive (I got it as a gift) but totally worth it, in my opinion. The thing Embark does (that ups the price) is they also test for almost 200 known genetic predispositions/problems. So I know now that Gatsby is a carrier for some sort of spinal issue (but he’s also neutered, so it’s not like he’s going to have puppies to pass it down to...) They also tell you which gene pairs are for which physical characteristics, trace his maternal/paternal haplotypes to find out what part of the world his “people” come from, and shows you both “relatives” (dogs that share DNA) and “mix-matches” which are dogs that have a similar makeup. Here’s his results so you can see what you get. (Like I said, it’s expensive but I think totally worth it!)
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:39 AM on August 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, it looks like the shareable profile doesn’t show his relatives. But he’s got a bunch of “cousins”!
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:45 AM on August 21, 2019

I used Wisdom Panel, and was totally happy with it. The health kit can be added later (currently priced at $55), if you're interested in that. It's not quite as thorough as Embark, but it's generally quite similar, with a family tree and what not. Unfortunately the results are behind a login, so I can't share a direct comparison.

I see that these products are much more expensive in Canada. Perhaps you could pick up a half dozen of them the next time you're in the US? The basic version seems to go on sale at US Amazon for $50 or $60 every few months).
posted by whisk(e)y neat at 11:54 AM on August 21, 2019

We used Wisdom Panel for our current dog and our previous dog and we got results that seemed reasonable, but of course there's no way to confirm how accurate they are. The previous dog looked like he could be a lab/pitbull/something else mix. The DNA test said he was 1/4 American Staffordshire terrier (AKC version of pitbull), 1/4 Siberian husky, 1/8 Rottweiler and the rest unknown (but likely not including any lab or other sporting breeds.) I could definitely see how he could have husky and Rottweiler in him. The test certainly seemed like it could be accurate.

The current dog looked like a pitbull/Australian cattle dog mix. Her liver brindle coat color, greenish eyes and some aspects of her head and muzzle shape seemed to indicate pitbull. The prick ears, white hairs mixed into in the coat and other aspects of the head and muzzle looked like cattle dog. The DNA test said she was half American Staffordshire terrier, 1/4 Australian Shepherd, 1/8 lab and 1/8 unknown. None of that explains the prick ears, but the AmStaff was expected and Australian shepherds have some of the same characteristics that made us think "cattle dog." So this one also seems reasonably likely to be accurate. The basic Wisdom Panel 4.0 includes checking for a couple of health-related genes. We could have paid more for more extensive health-related results. It was helpful to find out that she doesn't have the multi-drug resistance gene that can be found in Australian shepherds (and other breeds) that causes increased sensitivity to drugs like Ivermectin.
posted by Redstart at 11:55 AM on August 21, 2019

The Wirecutter just reviewed dog DNA tests last week and their choice was Embark with Wisdom Panel coming up as "also great."
posted by bcwinters at 12:03 PM on August 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

My goddog was tested. He was a giant breed rescue and looked identical to a Leonberger, which is a pretty... distinctive breed. But there are none in our neck of the woods, they cost fortunes, and this one was found abandoned in a ditch so it just seemed so unlikely he would be an expensive pedigree.

Yeah. No. German Shephard x Basset Hound! It all made so much sense as soon as we heard this and solved a mystery.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:12 PM on August 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

We bought a Wisdom Panel kit during a $50 Amazon sale back in 2017 for our inscrutable mutt picked up as a rescue at the humane society. Totally worth it. The pound had our pup listed as a "smooth collie", but she almost certainly wasn't that. Wisdom Panel came back with Akita + Boxer + Pit + "Herding Breed" (almost certainly Corgi given her uniquely fuzzy hind quarters), and that really seems about right.

It hasn't really helped tell people what she is - the Wisdom Panel report gave a detailed rundown of heritage but she's still clearly from many breeds - but it's helped us understand her weirdly stoic nature (she doesn't bark unless there's DANGER!) crossed with her crazy Corgi nature (if there's truly no danger and we're alone, it's time for PLAY!).

She's a good dog.
posted by eschatfische at 12:33 PM on August 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Tons of people in the rescue I support have used Wisdom Panel, mostly. Obviously there's no way to check and then you get confirmation bias, but the results have generally seemed...within the range of plausibility.

Wisdom Panel also apparently solved the mystery of my close friend's wee chi-terrier mix rescue, which is: where did the wavy fur come from? Turns out some 100% pure-blooded Yorkie miss going back generations had a forbidden dalliance with a chihuahua-LHASA APSO mix, with presumably Fabio-esque locks she could not resist.
posted by praemunire at 12:46 PM on August 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I couldn't tell you what kind i got - it was the only one Pet Smart had in stock and i had decided that's what I was getting my husband for Christmas since he had always wanted to know what our beloved 30 pound orange mutt was. He was convinced he was the proud, adoring owner of a lab/bird dog/terrier mix.

He was partially right, Hank is 37% lab but I am getting a whole lot of mileage giving him a hard time about the 25% chihuahua and the 10% pekingese!

So worth it? To me, every cent, even though there was absolutely no practical application for our knowledge.
posted by domino at 12:57 PM on August 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

We had our previous dog tested by Wisdom Panel and she came back as Border Collie, German Shepard, and Pit. Which honestly, with the exception of the Shepard, were all obvious as hell. And once they said Shepard, you could totally see it in her behavior.

We had our current leggy weirdo tested as well by Wisdom panel and she came back as one parent a fullblood Black and Tan Coonhound and one parent Lab and "sporting mix". The coonhound is crazy obvious and she's got the webbed toes of a Lab, but I still can't pin down those legs and her crazy ass run.
posted by teleri025 at 2:25 PM on August 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I wouldn't have paid for it myself, but we received Wisdom Panel as a gift. It was neat to see what their results were, and like others have said they were within the realm of possibility. My vet and others have said that the science behind them is not very robust, which is part of the reason why I wasn't willing to come out of my own pocket for a test.
posted by zeusianfog at 2:46 PM on August 21, 2019

My friend with a genomics PhD did Embark twice for the same dog. She picked it over Wisdom Panel because it tests more SNPs (mutations). She did it twice (about 6mos to a year between the tests) because she was interested in seeing how much it changed as they updated their test (spoiler: some breed %s changed quite a bit, and some breeds totally changed). So take the results, especially the detailed breed makeup, with a grain of salt.
posted by quaking fajita at 3:40 PM on August 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

fullblood Black and Tan Coonhound and one parent Lab and "sporting mix".... I still can't pin down those legs and her crazy ass run.

That crazy ass run is a greyhound stride. It's very distinctive! As one parent is a cross between a sight hound and a working breed (ie, greyhound and lab), that means your girl is 1/2 Lurcher. Congratulations on your Coonhound x Lurcher crossbreed!
posted by DarlingBri at 7:25 PM on August 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

I used Embark (results) and though i thought it useful, it is indeed crazy expensive. Also, if you're in Canada, they charge you more to ship it to you and you have to pay your own return shipping, which is absolutely ridiculous.
posted by dobbs at 7:44 PM on August 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

We used Embark on our dogs. It was indeed stupid expensive, but the results seemed plausible. quaking fajita's friend's experience, though, is making me wonder whether it's stupid expensive in part to discourage people from doing it twice to see if they get the same result :)

We mostly wanted it done because our dogs are getting older and we were thinking it'd be good to know about any upcoming health-related red flags we ought to look out for. Nothing turned up, which was great news. But the breed stuff wasn't as important to us as the hereditary health issues stuff.
posted by potrzebie at 10:23 PM on August 21, 2019

I used Wisdom and the results seemed totally implausible to me. Our brindle short hair rescue -- when everyone who's ever seen him says he's got shar pei in him -- came back Siberian husky, German shepherd, and bulldog.
posted by Cocodrillo at 5:27 AM on August 22, 2019

We used Wisdom and I'm not entirely convinced by the results. Our dog is a rescue and the vet thought he might be part chihuahua so I wanted to do the test to see what they other parts might be. The test came back as half miniature poodle, quarter Pomeranian, quarter American Staffordshire terrier. I'm kind of dubious (or maybe just worried) about the torrid affair between the Pom and the Staffie but I can see various attributes of each.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 6:27 AM on August 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

I used Wisdom and the results seemed totally implausible to me.

Same. It was about 7 years ago that we did Wisdom Panel for our dog, who is quite clearly a pointer mix of some sort. The results came back with some weird rare breeds and no pointer at all. Granted, they probably have a lot more dogs in their database now so maybe if we redid it there would be a different result. But seconding that you should take the breed results with a big grain of salt.
posted by Preserver at 6:34 AM on August 22, 2019

We used Wisdom on our rescue, Snoopy, and the results do NOT come close.

The rescue had him listed as a golden retreiver/lab mix.

Wisdom identified boxer/Stafforshire terrier.

There is no boxer/terrier in Snoopy.

Based on coloring, behavior, and build, we think there is Great Pyrenees, boarder collie, lab/golden.
posted by bonofasitch at 8:18 AM on August 22, 2019

The rescue listed ours as a shepherd/pit mix, and that's almost exactly what Wisdom Panel returned - 50% German Shepherd, 40% American Staffordshire, 10% American Bulldog.
posted by natabat at 9:55 AM on August 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

We did Wisdom Panel for our rescue, and results showed 5 different breeds with 37% or so too much of a combination to tell. I then reached out to the owner of one of her littermates, and their results showed 4 breeds in common with our girl’s report. (Breeds were Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Pinscher, Shih Tzu, Beagle, Staffordshire.) We each shared the actual Wisdom Panel graphic with one another, so that felt kind of independently verified and legit.
posted by dreamphone at 7:41 PM on August 22, 2019

teleri105, that is a double suspension gallop typical of sighthounds, especially greyhounds.
posted by QuakerMel at 5:10 PM on August 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

wow, how did I get that number so wrong, teleri025?
posted by QuakerMel at 5:19 PM on August 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

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