Why DNA Test Your Dog?
Why DNA Test Your Dog?
With so many pet owners choosing to adopt rescue dogs from shelters or non-profit organizations, many dogs go to new homes with no detailed information about their breed or heritage. Based on size, color, and physical attributes, a guess can be made about each dog’s heritage, but many pet owners wish to know more about the genetic background of their dogs.
Advances in DNA testing means that genetic tests are now available for dogs. A blood or saliva test is collected, and the sample is sent to a laboratory for DNA testing. Although some dogs may have a background that is wildly varied, other dogs may have the advantage of identifying one or two primary breeds, and this information can help pet owners learn more about their dog’s breed-specific behavior, personality, and genetic diseases.
Because some breeds experience higher rates of cancer, hip dysplasia, and other disorders, dog owners and veterinarians can keep a close eye on dogs who are known to have these concerns in their genetic makeup. This can streamline exams and test to provide breed-specific information that is personalized to each dog’s needs. Disease prevention is simplified and pet owners can take a proactive approach to their dog’s wellness needs. For specific details about the type of genetic disorders that have been identified in purebred dogs, a good resource is a list compiled by the University of Sydney and the Institute of Canine Biology.
From a behavioral standpoint, dog owners can gain a new understanding of their dog’s herding, barking or prey-chasing behaviors. Although training techniques remain the same for all breeds of dogs, unique considerations and a focus on behavior modification with a breed-specific approach can help dog owners and trainers successfully address motivation and training that is personalized to the dog’s specific needs.
Besides the practical purposes of DNA testing, it’s fun to learn the heritage of your dog. If you have a mixed-breed dog, you may have experienced the awkward feeling of not knowing the answer when you are asked about your dog’s breed. Although shelter and rescue organizations do their best to guess breed types when rescued dogs are put up for adoption, the guesswork can be quite challenging at times.
There are a variety of laboratory facilities for dog DNA testing, and you can order a cheek swab test to complete at home and mail to a laboratory, or you can visit your dog’s veterinarian for assistance with DNA blood testing. The laboratories may test for a limited number of breeds, and you should check their list of tested breeds to ensure the breeds you suspect your dog’s genetics might include are on that list. The pricing for these tests can start at approximately US$50 and can run as high as US$200.
DNA testing can be a great way to get to know your dog a bit better and also to identify any underlying health risks that could affect your dog. Knowledge is power, and the ability to be proactive about your dog’s health needs could help your dog to live a longer, happier life.
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