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We purchased the Wisdom Panel Canine DNA Test so our reviewer could put it to the test with the aid of her adorable mutt. Keep reading for our full product review.
Just like all pet owners, we have the cutest dog in the world: Doolie. He’s an adorably odd-looking pup, which raises questions about his breed makeup from everyone from family members to those we pass by on walks. To gain some more insight into what we now know is a rather complex blend of breeds, we tested out Wisdom Panel’s Canine DNA Test which offers breed identification and ancestry information.
Not only can dog DNA kits provide insight into your pup’s breed, but they also provide valuable information on their health, like medical conditions he or she may be predisposed to, and breed-specific traits and behaviors. There are several dog DNA kits on the market, but Wisdom Panel is definitely one of the most well-known. To see if it lived up to the hype, we picked one up and got to testing Doolie. Read on for our (really his) results.
Ease of Use: Easy enough
All of the DNA tests we tried were fairly simple to use, though we found Wisdom Panel to be the easiest of the bunch. The kit comes with two swabs which are similar to mascara wands. You swab the inside of your dog’s mouth for about 30 seconds, then put the swabs back in the kit to dry. After that, it’s as simple as placing the swabs in a provided plastic envelope and mailing it back to Wisdom Panel. At the time of mailing, you’ll also register for an online account where you’ll later access the results. The most important thing here is that you’re careful with the finished swabs. If you drop them, you could contaminate the DNA sample—especially if you have other pets in the home.
If your dog is anything like ours, the hardest part of the process will be getting them to sit still while you attempt to swab their mouth for a full 30 seconds. Though Doolie is very well behaved and even allows us to brush his teeth in the evenings, he wasn’t a fan of having the swab in his mouth for 10 seconds, let alone 30. We sent back one of the two samples with significant bite marks on the plastic swab, though it didn’t appear to impact the results.
Wisdom Panel says that it usually takes two to three weeks to get your results (though it could take up to a month). Ours took exactly three weeks, as promised, putting it in line with other kits we’d tested. With your Wisdom Panel account created, you can also log into the tracker to check the status of your kit as it moves through the laboratory testing process.
Results and Depth of Information: Basic, but interactive and informative
Of the DNA kits we used, Wisdom Panel was the first to send us back our results. The results are divided into two categories: About Doolie, which has information about his breed (they can test for more than 350) and family tree; and Health Results, which shows his health conditions. Because this particular kit does not include actual health testing, it only informed us of common medications he may be sensitive to. For an extra $55, you can upgrade your kit to get the full health panel, which screens and tests for more than 150 medical issues. All results are displayed on the Wisdom Panel website in a user-friendly format. (You can view an example DNA report online before you purchase.)
We found the results to be professional and informative, though briefer than more expensive tests we’d tried. This could also be because of Doolie’s specific background, though. According to Wisdom Panel’s testing, our dog is 25 percent pure-bred border collie, 25 percent pure-bred basset hound, and 50 percent a mix of various breed groups including sporting, herding, and companion. Wisdom Panel says that the vagueness of the latter is because they only test back three generations, stating that, “today’s technology can only identify down to the genetic group level.” That means they can detect traces of breeds from those three groups, but can’t get any more specific than that. This is at odds with other DNA tests we tried, though it’s hard to say if it’s an issue of the quality of testing. It may be that all labs found the same results and are just interpreting it differently. The Embark DNA kit we tried, for example, pointed to at least four additional breeds in Doolie’s DNA profile.
Test results aside, Wisdom Panel’s interface is intuitive and informative. The breed information is displayed in a pie chart and you can click on each breed to learn more about their typical height, weight, and predisposition. A family tree also breaks down your dog’s ancestry with the breed makeup of its parents, grandparents, and great grandparents.
Under Health Results, Wisdom Panel touches on two topics: Multidrug Resistance 1 (MDR1) and Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC). These brief sections tell you if your dog is sensitive to common drugs or affected by EIC—a genetic disorder that causes muscle loss. This section also calculates your dog’s ideal weight.
Overall, the results matched vaguely what we expected, especially when compared to some other kits we used. The only significant downside is that the test can only go back three generations, though that may be more than enough for dogs that are mostly purebred.
Price: Middle of the road
This Wisdom Panel DNA kit sells for roughly $85, though for $150, you can upgrade to the version with health reporting and disease detection. If you go with the basic test and decide down the road that you’d also like your pet’s health information, you can pay $55 to have it released online.
Wisdom Panel has one major competitor—Embark—and it’s similarly priced. While there are also less-expensive kits on the market, like the Find My Pet and DNAffirm tests, we found them to be of question quality. More on that below.
Competition: Wisdom Panel is one of the best
Find My Pet DNA: Despite the fact that both kits are comparably priced (view Find My Pet on Chewy), you get a lot more information with the Wisdom Panel kit. Rather than giving you a breed-by-breed breakdown of your dog’s DNA, Find My Pet divides your dog’s genes into five categories. A category one breed means that your dog is primarily that breed, where category five breeds are only found in trace amounts in your dog’s DNA. Find My Pet is less specific than Wisdom Panel, and there’s no option to add on additional health information. We recommend spending the extra $15 for the Wisdom Panel kit.
DNAffirm Dog Breed DNA Test: While the DNAffirm kit (view on Walmart) scores points for its under-$50 price, it delivers a different product than Wisdom Panel. DNAffirm delivers your dog’s results via an emailed PDF rather than an interactive site, as Wisdom Panel offers. DNAffirm gives results in the same format as the Find My Pet test with breed levels, too, so you won’t get a breed-by-breed breakdown of your dog’s family tree. In general, the whole experience just felt a lot less professional than Wisdom Panel.
Embark Breed + Health Kit: Of all the tests we used, we liked Embark (view on Chewy) and Wisdom Panel the best. Both use a similar testing method that gives you a breed-by-breed breakdown of your dog. Embark provides more information, like DNA relatives who have also been tested, but it also costs more. We’d recommend the Embark DNA test for owners with pets who are true mutts, but the Wisdom Panel should be enough information for owners who only need to know the last three generations of their dog’s DNA.