Of the 74 million dogs that are owned in the United States, 50 percent of them are mix-breeds. But now you can perform a DNA test on your pet to take the mystery out of the mutt.
The test, the Wisdom Panel MX, was launched in September 2007 by Mars Veterinary. In development for nearly four years, the test looks at the genetic makeup of a dog, and is perfect for people who adopt mix-breed dogs and don't know exactly what they're getting. The test is able to detect 130 of the 157 American Kennel Club registered breeds.
Vets across the country can conduct this DNA test by taking a small sampling of your dog's blood (less than half a teaspoon). The vet will send the sample to a lab and within two or three weeks, Mars Veterinary will provide the vet with a customized, comprehensive report that includes the dog's breed analysis and detailed information on the appearance and potential behavioral characteristics of detected breeds. The test costs anywhere from $100 to $200, depending on where you are in the country.
The test is 84 percent accurate, so your vet shouldn't consider only these results; it's just one more piece that the vet has in order to make educated decisions. This information, combined with your dog's medical history and current health status, will allow your vet to give more targeted recommendations for diet, nutrition, and training. There are breed-specific foods, and, for example, a retriever is trained differently than a terrier.
To find out your dog's DNA, visit whatsmydog.com.
Special thanks to Dr. Marty Becker for sharing this information, and to audience members Carolyn and Laura for volunteering their beautiful dogs for the DNA test.