Dog DNA testing is relatively new but shows excellent benefits for breeders and individual dog owners alike.
Embark is one of the leaders in this field and combines robust science with unique features such as the possibility to identify the potential relatives of your dogs for organizing family reunions at the park.
In this article, we analyzed the science behind the tests, company profile, various offerings, and what you can expect to learn from the results.
What about the Company?
Embark Veterinary is a real 21st-century success story. From a startup founded by two brothers passionated by dogs and genetics to a company valued at more than $700 million, it only took six years! Quite an achievement in a highly competitive at-home DNA testing!
Some impressive features of the company are that they partner with Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine, to back the results with solid genetic science.
The company is based in Boston, Massachusetts.
What about the Test Kits?
A Human or Canine DNA Test is only as good as the number of markers analyzed and the bioinformatics tools used to link the DNA mutations to a traitor lineage.
Most companies will make the most of what is called a DNA-array chip that will contain thousands of DNA markers, each representing a small portion of the genetic code.
In a nutshell, the extracted DNA will be deposited on a chip, and if the sequence and mutation match, a fluorescent dye will light up the mutation of interest. Just like a key will fit a lock! The more potentially detectable mutations, the higher the accuracy of the results.
How does Embark dog DNA test work?
The Embark Dog Test follows a very standard collection and analysis process.
- Order the test on the company website,
- Receive the collection Kit, including the Activation Code and Swab. Just as with humans’ test, gently swab the inside cheek of your dog’s mouth to collect cells and DNA. Be careful that your doggie does not start chewing on the swab!
- Send back the DNA sample using the prepaid return envelope,
- Activate the kit on Embark’s website using the provided code,
- After 2-4 weeks, you will receive an email saying that the results are available online.
Embark offers three types of tests depending on the exhaustiveness of the results:
- Breed analysis and Trains
- Pure Breed: The latest test offered by Embark that focuses
Breed and Health DNA test
Breed + Health Kit by Embark
Price when reviewed: $149.00
This is the company’s flagship test. Embark relies on 200k genetic markers, and its breed database includes more than 350 breeds and their associated mutations. So it becomes easy and fun to check if your sweet French Bulldog carries a little bit of coyote in its gene pool.
On top of the breed makeup, this dog DNA test kit also provides information on 20 traits and more than 200 genetic diseases covering 16 different areas (Blood, neuromuscular, muscular, skin, metabolic, kidney&Bladder,…the list is long.)
More than the breed, the report will also include the analyses of the maternal and paternal lineages (Just as for Humans DNA tests) to understand better where the ancestors of your dog came from and their journey across the world.
These results are especially interesting for breeds prone to genetic health problems. A positive result will not mean that your dog will systematically develop the disease. Still, it means that your dog carries a mutation that can predispose him to a specific disease. It should be seen as a guide to potentially modify its diet or ask your veterinarian for more information on delaying or preventing a potential onset.
Embark also offers a pretty unique feature in the form of the “Relative Finder.” This feature is interesting as it mimics what was usually found in premium human DNA tests such as 23andMe or Ancestry DNA.
Finding the cousins of your doggie can be fun and a great way to meet new dog owners.
Overall, the Breed and Health DNA kit is complete, informative, and makes the most of a canine DNA test.
Dog’s Breed only DNA test
Breed ID Kit by Embark
Price when reviewed: $99.00
This test comes at a cheaper price point and can be considered as an introduction to canine genetics. It will provide information about your dog’s breed mix and traits.
Traits are especially interesting for puppies as you will learn the genes to predict the dig’s coat color, coat traits (such as shedding or length), appetite, and genetic diversity. In addition, this trait is exciting to know more about the inbreeding level of your dogs that can lead to health disease.
DNA Test for Purebred Dog
Purebred Kit by Embark
Price when reviewed: $149.00
This test is the latest developed by the company and focuses on purebred dogs and associated potential health risks. The results can be directly shared with your veterinarian.
By limiting genetic diversity, purebred dogs are especially susceptible to genetic health disorders. The test will analyze more than 190 potential genetic diseases and their associated markers.
The results are very informative for pet owners and breeders who can now test the genetic makeup of a litter and define which pups may be more susceptible to developing a genetic disease.
What do Customers think?
Embark tests have a good reputation and are praised on Amazon (4.5 stars on average with more than 30,000 reviews) and the company website.
Some customers complain that the company is quite aggressive in its marketing follow-up campaigns and suggest using a temporary email for ordering. Always good advice for any product that requires online registration.
On Trust Pilot, the company only received a 2.9 out of five stars average rating, but only 11 customers left a review.
Pros and Cons of Embark DNA Test?
- More than 200,000 markers
- Cutting Edge Bioinformatics
- Partnership with Cornell University
- Very exhaustive analyses
- Apart from a tendency to send numerous emails, we can not find a significant negative point.
To wrap up
The Embark Dog DNA tests bring canine genetics to th
e same level as human at-home test kits.
They rely on the same technologies, and the impressive number of markers they use for the analyses is a great way to dig deep into your dog gene pool.
The various tests will reveal plenty of information from dog’s ancestry to breed identification, dog breed makeup, and genetic disease for pet enthusiasts or breeders.
To know more about the competition, check our article about the various Dog’s DNA tests.