Do you have a Heinz 57 dog? If so, you’ve probably wondered which breeds are mixed into your pup? Discovering your best friend’s background is fun, easy, and less expensive than you might think. There are several companies that do canine DNA testing.

Many of these companies also offer health testing for an additional cost, and this information could keep your mutt healthy. Some breeds are more prone to certain ailments. For example, some Dobermans have a genetic blood condition, and Dalmations tend to get kidney stones. Another example is the MDR1 gene, which is often found in herding breeds. MDR1 carriers have a genetic predisposition for adverse reactions to many common veterinary drugs. Knowing what breeds make up your pooch can help you and your vet with their care.

These tests are easy to take. You swab the inside of your dog’s cheek and mail it off in the container they provide. The company will test your dog’s DNA with its database of breeds and come up with an ingredient list of dog types that make up your canine companion.

So, how accurate are these tests in predicting your dogs breeding? The answer is reasonably accurate. It’s best to pick a company that uses a large database. The two largest companies are Embark and Wisdom. Wisdom tests for over 350 breeds and 150 genetic conditions. Embark tests for 250 breeds and checks for over 170 canine health conditions.

Keep in mind that looks can be very deceiving. Just because you’re dog resembles a Lab…. doesn’t mean he is! Sometimes these tests are eye-opening! However, if you don’t fully understand Fido’s test results, both companies are very responsive and are happy to go over your dog’s findings with you. Other companies may be less expensive, but they also have a smaller breed database.

Is there a downside to DNA testing? If you happen to be a worrier, then finding out what health issues your dog could develop might result in a few sleepless nights. Remember, these tests can’t tell you that your dog will develop these health issues just that they have a higher risk of them. Secondly, if you live in a place that bans certain dog breeds and your test indicates Fido happens to be predominantly that breed, you may run into trouble.

Of course, we love our pups no matter what breed they might be, but finding out the ingredients that make your dog unique is fun! Not only does it explain your dog’s looks, but it may help explain their behavior, size, and energy level.