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

The Limits of DNA Testing: How Breed Definitions and Genetic Variability Affect Dog Breed Identification

DNA testing results for dogs can sometimes contradict a pet owner’s assumptions about their dog’s breed. This is because the widely accepted breed definitions were established before the advent of DNA analysis, which means that a dog’s genetics may align with a specific breed, but their behavior may not necessarily match the typical traits associated with that breed.

A recent study of 459 shelter dogs in Arizona and California revealed 125 distinct breeds, with only 5 percent being purebred. However, this study also found that mixed-breed dogs made up the majority of the dogs in the sample. Mixed breeds can be particularly challenging when it comes to DNA testing, as accurate results depend on the genetic information available for identifiable breeds.

Consumers should research DNA testing 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 do receive information about your dog’s breed, it may not have a significant impact on their behavior. A genetic analysis conducted on over 2,000 purebred and mixed-breed dogs found that behavior is more closely linked to the individual dog rather than its breed, highlighting that breed is not a reliable predictor of behavior.

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