Sunday, September 26, 2021

Click here to
sign up for our newsletter!

The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Sep 16, 2020

The Surprises in Learning the DNA of Your Pup

By Karen Rockafellow

My husband and I always talked about getting a DNA test done on our dog, Zoey. We adopted her at 3 months old and were always curious about what she was besides the obvious, black Labrador. She’s tall and slender, with a longer snout and thick hair. She is mostly black and has little white spots under her chin and on her chest. She also some white on her back paws, including an all-white, lucky toe. She loves to swim, jumps really high, is quick, and sometimes it seems like she is herding other dogs. Initially, we thought she was a black Lab/border collie mix, maybe with some greyhound in her, but we were curious to find out for sure.

My husband bought me the Wisdom Panel DNA test as a gift when Zoey was around 5 years old. We had put off buying it for a while because it runs around $100. However, he scored a $20 off coupon and committed to the surprise. When it came in the mail, I was so excited and ready to find out what Zoey’s genetic makeup was.

The package came with easy-to-follow instructions and a prepaid return mail package. All we had to do was swab the inside of Zoey’s cheek, pack it up as described in the instructions and send it back. We created an online account and were notified of when our return package was received, when the test would be conducted and when the results were in.

It took about three weeks for the test result to come back, and we waited until we were together – Zoey cuddled in between, of course – to read them. Going into it with the assumption that she was a black Lab/ border collie mix, we were shocked to see that wasn’t the case.

She came back 50 percent Labrador retriever, 12.5 percent chow chow, 12.5 percent German shepherd and 25 percent breed groups (terrier, hound, sporting, guard). We did the essential DNA test which shows her genetic background. The results included a family tree with information about her great grandparents, so I could see where the different breeds come in. (There is also a premium test that looks for health conditions in your dog, but that one normally costs about $160, so we opted out.) We were surprised a little by the mention of German shepherd but now can see it in her hair and body type.

The test results were presented with an interactive diagram that allowed me to click on parts of the dog to see what the experts expect my pet to look like based on her genes (coat type, nose/ facial coloring, leg length, ear shape, etc.) Zoey’s features were pretty spoton, with some descriptions being a little generic and others having much more detail.

I’m still shocked about the chow chow. However, I read the detailed information about each breed she is and learned chow chows can be “reserved and wary with strangers.” It’s interesting because Zoey is a nervous dog and has anxiety issues. She is fearful of people she doesn’t know at first. It takes her a while to come around and be comfortable, but then is the happiest, sweetest, goofiest girl.

I’m glad we figured out what she is – if not for medical reasons and weight guidelines, then just to satisfy the curiosity. We love our fuzzy, little mutt regardless of her breed, but we recommend this test for anyone else who may be curious about their pet’s background. It gave us a lot of insight into who Zoey is and how we can best care for her.