There are over 200 breeds in existence in the doggy kingdom, and these breeds come in all different shapes and sizes. You get big dogs like Great Danes, medium-sized dogs like the Bearded Collie, small dogs like the French Bulldog and even miniatures. What makes every breed interesting is that they have individual markers they call their own – physical and personality traits that run throughout the breed.

So what do you do if you have a mixed breed dog? Say, a Labrador crossed with a cocker spaniel? Do you make this deduction based on appearance alone?

That doesn’t need to be the case. In the last few years, companies have emerged specialising in genetic testing, and in the article to follow, we’ll explain what it involves and why it might be useful for you.

Genetic testing helps you identify health risks

Every breed has its physical and psychological traits, but more importantly, every breed has a unique  set of health risks too. Saint Bernards typically get bone cancer; Golden Retrievers get hip problems; Cocker Spaniels heart disease. And as for the Bulldog – well, he has lots of problems to contend with.

Knowing your dog’s breeding background will help you look out for problems that might arise, and it’ll give you the ammunition to take steps to resolve potential problems.

Genetic testing is relatively easy to do

A company like Embark will charge you $200 for a Dog DNA test. The kit will be shipped to your door, and in it, you’ll have a swab that you’ll run along the inside of your dog’s cheek. There’ll be instructions detailing exactly what to do, and a return envelope.

Choose a company that looks at a large number of genetic markers

Genetic markers are breed-specific traits. The more that are in review, the more accurate the findings will be. The best companies look at a couple of hundred thousand, so don’t plump for one that looks at fewer than 100,000.

Check Google reviews

A lot of brands will sport testimonials on their website; ignore these and check user-written reviews by searching for the company on Google.

Google reviews are often an excellent barometer of quality, and you’ll get impartial feedback from people just like you.

In the end, genetic testing isn’t as crucial as a regular trip to the vet, but it is a revealing insight into the type of dog you have on your hands. You can even use it on a purebred, with information dating back as far as the great grandparents, and evidence of any cross-breed mixing along the way.

A genetic testing kit is a very useful tool for veterinarians too; share the information you’ve gathered in an effort to safeguard your dog’s health going forward.

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