WHAT BREED IS MY DOG?

If you have a mixed breed dog, or even a purebred dog, there are quite a few things to be aware of when parenting your pup. This article will cover what a dog breed is, how breed and your dog’s DNA contribute to your dog’s looks and traits, and how you can test to find out your dog’s breed.

WHAT IS A DOG BREED?

Dog breeds are defined by specific physical and behavioral traits, which are determined by different genetic sequences coded in your dog’s DNA. The earliest evidence for distinctive dog breeds comes from the remains of hunting and sled dogs in Siberia over 10,000 years ago. Dog breeds like greyhounds have also been depicted in pottery and paintings in Egypt and Western Asia for thousands of years. Today, the World Canine Organization, best known by its French title Fédération Cynologique Internationale, recognizes nearly 400 breeds. This number does not account for the unlimited number of mixed breed dogs.

Using a simple cheek swab, the Embark Dog DNA Test can analyze your dog’s DNA and determine its genetic and health history.

HOW DOG DNA AFFECTS BREED

A little background first: Only 2% of our DNA codes for genes, which make the proteins that ultimately influence breed-defining characteristics like coat texture, color, and body size. Of the 200,000+ genetic markers that Embark uses in its DNA test, roughly 10% of them fall into a coding sequence. The rest tests for DNA that doesn’t code for genes. Why? Because these sequences are breed-specific. Every dog breed has their own unique stretches of DNA not found in any other breed. These 90% of the the genetic markers we test for are incredibly useful for accurate breed identity, but do not directly impact what your dog looks and acts like. It's the DNA that defines the breed, and what Embark reports on is the DNA.

There is an incredible amount of variety among dog breeds. A purebred's DNA will closely identify to the purebred DNA in Embark’s reference panel of dogs. Using the DNA sample, Embark can also identify a mixed breed dog’s breed genetic makeup.

Different combinations of DNA can be expressed in your dog’s physical traits in many ways. A dog’s coat color, for instance, is influenced by more than seven genes, some of which actually mask the effects of others. This is why mixed-breed dogs of similar breed composition can look very different in body shape, size, and coloring. For example, all three of the Embark dogs below are between 18-23% Chow Chow. A quick look at these pictures shows just how different some dogs can look.

WE'VE DISCOVERED A LOT THROUGH DNA

Did you know? Through DNA we have uncovered how dogs are related all the way back to wolves.


TEST YOUR DOG'S DNA

DOG BREED DNA TESTING?

Where other tests just tell you the breeds in your dog, Embark actually looks at the genes known to affect key aspects of appearance. So even if your dog doesn’t look like the breeds that are identified, we can tell you why your dog looks like, well, your dog. See how closely your dog resembles other Embark dogs with the same trait genes, even if their breed mix is different! These traits can even help you guess what your dog’s offspring would have looked like if they had had puppies.

Ultimately, does your dog’s breed composition change who your dog is to you? Not at all! In fact, having this knowledge empowers you to provide even better care for your dog. By understanding your dog’s breed composition, you can anticipate breed-specific conditions and diseases. For example, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are often have “Staffy Cramp”, a neuromuscular disorder that arises from a mutation in the L2HGDH gene. The vast majority of dogs in our shelters have “Bully” appearance -- though it is unknown whether they have any Staffordshire Bull Terrier in them at all. Armed with the knowledge of both breed and disease risk, dog owners whose dogs are full or part Staffordshire Bull Terriers can be prepared for what might come with their new best friend.

If you’re interested in learning more about your dog’s genetic makeup, you can buy a DNA testing kit online. With a quick cheek-swab (no blood!), you can gain insight into your dog’s breed and potential health conditions. While there are several companies that offer this service, Embark is the only one that also directly tests for 160+ genetic diseases - so you know your dog’s individual risk for them.

Open the kit and remove the tube from its packaging. Do not remove the swab from the tube, you can use the tube as a handle.

1. REMOVE COLLECTION TUBE

Take the swab and gently rub the inside of your dog’s cheek pouch and under his tongue to collect saliva for at least 30 seconds.

2. SWAB YOUR DOG FOR 30-60 SECONDS

Unscrew the cap and turn the swab upside down. Place the swab inside the collection tube.

3. UNSCREW CAP, PLACE IN TUBE & SEAL YOUR SAMPLE


Make sure the cap is screwed on tightly over the sample collection tube. Invert the tube and shake for 10 seconds.

4. MIX SAMPLE

Visit our website and enter your details to activate your kit.

5. ACTIVATE

Send your sample to Embark with the prepaid envelope included in your kit.

6. SEND YOUR SAMPLE TO US

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Contact us

815-A Brazos St Box 367

Austin, TX 78701

howdy@embarkvet.com

224.236.2275