Dog DNA tests put to the test

At-home dog DNA tests gaining in popularity

Six years ago, Mike Hammonds found a new best friend: a dog he rescued named Stoli.  

The 6-week old puppy came home with a lot of love to give but also lots of questions. The biggest question is what kind breeds were under Stoli’s wiry coat.  

“The question I get asked all the time is what kind of dog is it,” said Hammonds.  

When pressed to guess, Hammonds says he thinks Stoli is some sort of Terrier.  He was also told Stoli’s mom was an American Bulldog.  

But until mixed breeds like Stoli can talk, dog owners are finding out their canine's backstory with dog DNA test kits you can do at home. 

ABC Action News tested two of the most popular DNA test brands on Stoli.  Wisdom Panel and DNA My Dog are readily found online. Those are the ones we used for this test. 

For $70 to $80, a dog owner swabs the inside of their dog's cheek and then sends it off to a lab.  But how accurate are they?

To start, we went to visit Brooks. Not even a year old yet, Brooks’ owner says he is a purebred Whippet. He is American Kennel Club certified and there is no doubt to his purity.  “We know who his mother is we know who his father is,” says owner Kathryn Clark.  If the dog DNA tests could guess Brooks' bloodline correctly from a cheek swab, we knew there was at least some accuracy to the at-home tests.  

Three weeks later, both tests came back as 100% whippet as Clark predicted they would.

A few days later, the moment of truth comes for Stoli.  Where does that thick wirey coat come from

Hammonds opens the results from Wisdom Panel who says they use a DNA screen from more than 250 breeds.  Hammonds is shocked to find no Terrier in Stoli but instead a bombshell, “25 percent poodle,” says Hammonds shocked.  It also shows 25 percent American Bulldog as Hammonds expected.  But there were even more surprises.  It found Stoli is possibly 12.5 percent French Bulldog and Chinese Shar pei.   

The DNA My Dog test agreed with one part of Wisdom Panel’s findings.  It found Stoli to be prominently Poodle but at a much higher rate of 37-74 percent.

But that is where both tests stopped agreeing.  DNA My Dog even found some Pomeranian in Stoli. To veterinarians like Dr. Rhonda Johnson the mixed findings are not surprising.  “If your dog is a highly-mixed breed with a lot of different minority breeds in it I think that you're probably going to be looking at it [the test] for fun,” says Johnson.

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