The popularity of Dog DNA tests is increasing, but can they be trusted?

The complexity of breed in dogs is something that many people are unaware of, according to Halie Rando, an assistant professor of computer science at Smith College. While a dog’s genetics may align with a specific breed, widely accepted breed definitions were established before the advent of DNA analysis. This means that genetic testing results can sometimes contradict what pet owners believe their dog’s breed to be.

In a recent study conducted by Rando and her team on 459 shelter dogs in Arizona and California, DNA analysis revealed 125 distinct breeds, with just 5% being purebred. Interestingly, both the scientists and experienced shelter workers were unable to accurately identify mixed-breed dogs, which made up the majority of the dogs in the study. Mixed breeds can be particularly challenging when it comes to DNA testing because the accuracy of test results depends on the genetic information available for identifiable breeds.

When considering DNA testing for your dog, it is important to research different companies thoroughly before submitting a sample. The accuracy of results can vary depending on the diversity of the company’s genetic panel. Even if you receive information about your dog’s breed through DNA testing, it may not have a significant impact on their behavior as behavior is more closely linked to individual dogs rather than their breed. A genetic analysis conducted by Rando and her team on over 2,000 purebred and mixed-breed dogs found that behavior is not a reliable predictor of behavior.

By Riley Johnson

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