From the genetic information stored in your dog’s DNA, we can discover their breed ancestry, likely behavioral and physical traits, and health condition susceptibility. Interpretations of these findings can help you make the best decisions for both you and your dog to ensure you can share the best life possible together.
The breeds that we find in your dog’s genetic makeup give clues as to what type of care, activities, and training are best suited for them. This can help inform medical decisions, training strategies, household or routine changes, and how you interact with your furry friend.
While behavior, personality, and temperament are influenced by many factors such as environment and training, certain behaviors can be traced back to genetic markers. Knowing your dog’s behavioral predispositions can help to cater training, activities, and lifestyle choices to give them a happy life without letting them get out of hand.
Identifying what health conditions your dog is susceptible to gives you the power to notice symptoms earlier in their progression. While your results are not a diagnosis, understanding what your dog is susceptible to can help you and your veterinarian determine the best health plan moving forward.
While some trait predictions are for fun, others can assist you in making the best decisions for yourself and your dog. It is certainly helpful, for example, to have a size prediction for your dog, especially if you are deciding whether or not to adopt a puppy. Perhaps opting for the taller fence would be good for a dog predicted to grow larger, or maybe you don’t have to spend the extra money on a larger car to accomodate a dog unlikely to grow above 40 pounds.
Why Your Dog Might Not Look Like Ancestry Breeds
You might have found that your dog doesn’t particularly look like any of the breeds that were detected. That’s normal!
This is fairly common and does not mean that there was a mistake in the test. The way that genes interact can be complex and not always intuitive. Have you ever met someone with brown eyes whose parents both had blue eyes? You might think that these parents could only produce offspring with blue eyes, but this is not the case. There are at least ten genes that affect eye color in humans, and their interactions can have some unexpected results. It is likely that the two blue-eyed parents had different versions of some of these genes, and when they had a child, the gene variations combined in such a way to produce a brown-eyed child.
Similar phenomenon can be observed in mixed breed dogs. More often than not, simply looking at a dog cannot accurately predict their breed makeup. In fact, a recent study conducted by Dr. Julie Levy at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Science showed that even experts could only successfully predict the partial breed makeup of mixed-breed dogs 27% of the time. Even then, “success” was defined as only predicting one prominent breed correctly, not their whole breed makeup. You can see the results of the study here: https://sheltermedicine.vetmed.ufl.edu/library/research-studies/current-studies/dog-breeds/dna-results/.
The reason why visual assessments are so difficult is because of complicated gene interactions. Dominant genes are sometimes associated with specific breeds, such as the wire hair, box-shaped head, and dropped ears of the German Wirehaired Pointer. However, because these dominant traits outcompete recessive traits, they are widespread across dozens of breeds. So while your dog might look like it is largely German Wirehaired Pointer, its wire hair, box-shaped head, and dropped ears could have come from a vast number of other breeds.
The same concept can work in reverse. Recessive genes are often “overpowered” by dominant traits, so characteristic traits of a certain breed might be visually undetectable. For example, a dilute silver-grey coat, such as the coat of a Weimaraner, is recessive to black and brown coats. Even if your dog is 75% Weimaraner, it is very unlikely to have the recessive silver-grey coloration.