I did my first Ancestry DNA test in 2015, and since then I have done the Family Tree DNA Y-DNA, Big-Y700 and Mitochondrial DNA tests, uploaded my DNA to MyHeritage and GEDCOM and also done a separate test with 23&Me …. Pretty much covered all the available options. My main motivation is to use DNA to validate my genealogy research and figure out how cousins with DNA matches connect to me. The ethnicity information is interesting, especially as the results get more in-depth to specific subregions as the main companies update their reference databases.
Recently, I discovered that Dog and Cat DNA tests are also available in Australia, and claim to be able to to identify more than 350 breeds of dogs as well as testing for a number of genetic health tests and traits. The tests are similar to human DNA tests is that they measure a large number genetic markers (SNIPS … single nucleotide polymorphisms) and compare these to their own breed reference database. This would work in the same manner than human DNA tests compare an individuals’ DNA to a reference sample from a known genetic population (eg. Irish, Inuit, Norwegian etc.) The breed reference databases are probably still in their infancy, but with time as more dogs are tested, the ability to differentiate individual breeds will become more refined, and similar to human DNA tests in their accuracy.
This is great news for owners of mixed breeds, who may suspect their dog has a certain ancestry, but can’t be sure. My previous dog, Ned was a Kelpie cross Corgi (ie a Kelpie with very short legs!), however we were never really sure if that was all …. His colouring and coat suggested there may have been a bit of border collie in there too. If I had known these tests were around whilst he was still alive, I would definitely have considered testing him.
My current dog, Frankie is a purebred Australian Kelpie, and although not pedigreed, we have a family tree for her back to her grandparents, who were working dogs in Camden and Goulburn. Nevertheless, I was tempted to try out some of these Dog DNA tests on her, just to guage and compare their accuracy, and try the process for myself. I identified 4 tests supposedly available in Australia, that could be ordered through Amazon. Prices vary significantly, but as with human DNA tests, there are sometimes sales and special events where prices come down (International Dog Day …. I did not know there was such a thing before this!)
|Name & Type of Test||Price |
(AUD, June 2022)
|Current Price on Amazon||Dog DNA Test Kit|
Dog Breed Test Kit,
Heritable Health Risks
|$114 – $129||Check current price – Orivet||Orivet|
|Wisdom Panel: |
Dog DNA Test for Ancestry,
|$99 – $133||Wisdom Panel|
Dog DNA Test
160 Health Results
200K Genetic Markers
|$419 – $432||Embark|
|DNA My Dog: |
Canine Breed Identification
Cheek Swab Kit –
|$144 – $166||DNA My Dog|
I ordered 2 tests through Amazon, Orivet and Wisdom Panel. The Orivet test was delivered within 4 days of ordering, as the kits are sent from Australia, however the Wisdom Panel kits came from the UK, and arrived 3 weeks after ordering.
The test itself was pretty simple in theory – 2 cheeks swabs for 15 seconds, however this was easier said than done. When Frankie first saw the swabs, she knew something was up and wasn’t having any of it. To get her to cooperate, I allowed her to examine, sniff and lick the swabs for a few minutes first. She actually bit one and broke the plastic shaft, so maybe that wasn’t the best idea. Anyway , after a while I eventually managed to get a good 10-15 second sample from her cheek without any dramas.
DNA sample collection from both the Orivet and Wisdom Panel kits were identical. Once a decent swab had been obtained, the swabs are allowed to dry before being placed in a pouch and then into a replied paid envelope. For Orivet, this was simple as the sample can just be dropped off in a post box, however as the Wisdom Panel test had to be sent to the UK, the British 1st class stamp was not much use, and I had to replace it with a $3.50 Australian stamp.
After posting the swaps, I received an acknowledgement that the Orivet samples had been received after 3 days. As the Wisdom panel kits were sent to the UK, it took an additional 10 days for the samples to arrive. I was initially concerned that there may be an issue with quarantine, as I have found that sometimes human DNA test kits get held up in customs, even though they have the required permits.
27 days after posting the swabs, I received a notification that Frankie’s DNA test results were available, and confirmed that she was 100% Australian Kelpie, as well as an analysis of the DNA she inherited from both parents – obviously based on her 100% results they were both pure kelpies too. Clearly this would have been more interesting had the test been on a mixed breed dog, but still good to know that the test was accurate and successfully interpreted her DNA as pure kelpie.
My experience with the Wisdom Panel kit was not as successful. After 16 days, I received a notification that they were not able to extract enough DNA from the swaps, and provided a link to request a replacement kit. The problem however was that the request from was set up to only include British addresses. I contacted their customer support and was informed that it would not be possible to send a replacement kit to Australia, and neither would it be possible to offer a refund as the kit had been purchased through Amazon! Even though I challenged this, they would not budge and subsequently stopped replying to emails. From this experience I would definitely not recommend Wisdom Panel for DNA tests in Australia – Even though it is possible to order a kit, the risk of not being able to get a replacement kit should there be a problem with the DNA extraction is too great. Orivet on the other hand was fast, easy and provided an accurate result.