I Did a Doggy DNA Test on My Adopted Pup — and the Results Truly Surprised Me

published Jun 7, 2022
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Since adopting my dog Leo back in February, I had a few doubts, but bringing him home wasn’t one of them. I’ve had a dog at home for most of my life so I’m a well-seasoned pet parent, which caused me to notice some things right away. I knew he had to be older than the shelter estimated him to be. The size and strength of his teeth gave that away, and while the shelter had guessed that he could be a lab mix, I was fairly convinced he was part hound. Specifically, a beagle since I’d had one before. Leo is the first dog I’ve ever adopted from a shelter, and though his tail is short, it’s not docked. It’s common knowledge that both beagles and labs have long tails, so I wasn’t 100 percent sure he was either. Even so, I went with the story of him being a lab-beagle mix — even to his vet — because what else could I say?

Then, I found out there was a way for me to know what breed Leo truly was (or at the very least get a really solid hint) by trying out the Embark Vet Breed and Health Kit, a dog DNA test.

The kit tests for the dog breed as well as inherited health conditions, and collecting the sample for the Embark Vet DNA Test is actually the easiest part. It comes with detailed instructions, a swab, tube, and mailer to ship it back to the lab for analyzing. Since it must be at least 30 minutes since the last time your dog ate before you can do the test, I waited until the middle of the day to swab Leo’s cheek pouches for a minute to soak the sponge. Once the sample swab is complete, you put it into the tube, give it a shake to mix with the solution, and pack it up for shipping. From the time the post office scanned it into their system, I began getting tracking updates about its journey to the lab and was notified upon its arrival. Embark lets you know upfront that the results will take a few weeks since they run multiple tests to check for the dog’s breed, health, and lineage; but I wasn’t in a rush. I was just excited to find out what percentage of each dog breed Leo would turn out to be!

Credit: Britt Franklin

Leo’s results got to the lab on May 4 and I received the results on May 20. In the weeks between arrival and results, I was constantly kept updated about where they were in the testing process, which I thought was a nice touch to keep me informed and make the wait feel shorter. When I opened the email with Leo’s results, I fully expected to see a percentage breakdown of at least two different breeds. By this point, even with my reservations, I was pretty convinced that he was part beagle — their head shapes are so similar! Instead, his read: 100% Mountain Cur. I immediately opened Google, and at first, it seemed like the test had gotten it wrong because the images that came up didn’t look like Leo. Then, I spotted another type of the same breed, the Mountain View Cur, and saw a bunch of pictures of dogs that looked like mine.

Credit: Britt Franklin

Technically, the Mountain View Cur is a mixed breed, but it’s one of the official ones. They originated in the 1980s and are essentially a mix of hounds and terriers, which explains why it was so easy for me to spot a beagle resemblance in Leo. Embark provides a family tree of breeds along with the results, but mentions that it’s not the only possible one, just the most likely. Leo’s parents, grandparents, and great grandparents are all listed as Mountain Cur on his chart. In addition to the breed information, this kit in particular includes a health summary and pinpoints any issues you might want to notify your local veterinarian about. No breed relevant or genetic conditions came up for Leo, but they did flag two low risk health conditions regarding his vision and liver. They aren’t noted as huge problems, just something to watch out for if they develop into something later. At the time that I gave Leo his DNA test, he actually did have some gut health issues that have since been medicated and seem to be completely resolved.

Credit: Britt Franklin

Overall, I was super impressed with the Embark Vet Breed and Health Kit. I have no doubt that they correctly identified Leo’s breed and I was able to learn about a whole new dog in the process. Right now, the kit is on sale on Amazon, but I think it’s worth the price even if it wasn’t; especially for puppy parents who’ve adopted rescue dogs. Now that I’ve gotten brand new insight about my pet, all that’s left for me to do is correct his paperwork at the vet.

Buy: Embark Breed and Health Kit, $159 (originally $199)