*The opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. Some of the links seen below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
For those of us with rescue/mixed breed dogs, the answer to “What kind of dog is he/she?” takes on a whole new meaning. For the longest time we would say, “Some sort of Australian Shepherd Mix” when referring to Raleigh, and “Some sort of German Shepherd Mix” when referring to Iggy. We toyed with the idea of purchasing a DNA test, but had heard that depending on the test the results could be relatively unreliable. We also wanted a test that was easy to administer, and didn’t require a blood draw.
Enter, Embark Dog DNA Test*. We had heard from some of our friends in the dog community that Embark seemed to be the most accurate DNA test out there, and when we heard how easy it was to use, we thought we would give it a try! While the $200.00 may seem pricy, the kit came with everything we needed – even postage on the box we were to return was already taken care of. We simply had to:
- Activate our kit online
- Swab each of our dogs’ mouths for 30-60 seconds
- Break the swab
- Insert into the tube with liquid
- Mail it in.
Embark also sent us regular email updates on the progress of the sample through the lab! We received an update when the sample was received, when processing began, when the DNA analysis was complete, and when health and breed results were complete. All in all, the analyzing of the samples took less than a month, and we were able to track the progress online.
The health results are an appreciated component of the testing, and we are happy to report that both Raleigh and Iggy were clear from 164 of the 165 genetic conditions that Embark tests for. Each was found to be a carrier for one of the conditions, which would matter should they have puppies. However both are fixed so safe to say we’ll dodge that bullet. Raleigh is a carrier for Progressive Retinal Atrophy, a form of “progressive, not painful vision loss,” according to the Embark definition. Iggy is a carrier for Degenerative Myelopathy, a “progressive degenerative disease of the spinal cord,” according to Embark. However, since both dogs are only carriers for these conditions, they are unlikely to exhibit signs of the disease.
Embark also has a feature that allows you to share the health results section with your veterinarian so that they are aware of any underlying conditions and can provide optimal treatment for your dog. Below is a snapshot of what Raleigh and Iggy’s “Health Results” section looked like. From here, you are able to explore each section in depth.
And finally, the part we were most excited for – the breed results. While our initial reaction to both sets of results was a little bit of laughter and shock, after a few minutes we realized that these combos made perfect sense, but definitely were not something we would’ve come up with ourselves.
As you can see, Raleigh’s largest percentage is indeed Australian Shepherd at about 31%. With the second largest percentage being Border Collie at about 19%, this means that she is about 50% herding dog. This makes sense to us, as she is a very high-energy dog and when she is sprinting, she is fast. The American Pit Bull, Mastiff, and Boxer components explain her muscular trunk. Even the Bloodhound didn’t surprise us, as she has taken remarkably well to scent sports. Our favorite result was that of the Boston Terrier. We thought she must have some small dog in her ancestry somewhere, as she only weighs about 30 lbs. and has skinny little legs that don’t seem to match her muscular trunk.
The Supermutt analysis yielded small amounts of Labrador Retriever and Shetland Sheepdog. Embark provides some information on exactly what ‘Supermutt’ means on their site – basically it means that there are small components of her DNA ancestry that are so thoroughly mixed that they are almost indistinguishable as a particular breed. No matter what, we couldn’t be more proud of our Australian Shepherd/Border Collie/American Pit Bull/Mastiff/Boxer/Bloodhound/Boston Terrier mix.
Iggy’s primary result isn’t surprising in the slightest. His coloring is almost identical to that of a German Shepherd, and his intelligence and attitude mimic that of a German Shepherd as well. His second-highest result, Australian Cattle Dog, explains his crazy high drive in sports like dock diving and agility. His Labrador Retriever and American Pit Bull Terrier results also didn’t come as a surprise to us, as we knew many mixes have small components of these breeds. His Supermutt components were Pointer, Siberian Husky, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
However, there are two breeds in his profile that made me laugh out loud when I first saw them. As Iggy grew up, we constantly chuckled at the intense wrinkles he has around his face and the extra skin he has on his neck. Knowing he’s part Chow Chow seems to help explain that. The other thing we used to chuckle at was how long he is- he’s a good 4.5 feet tall when standing on his hind legs, but on all-fours he’s about as tall as a border collie and weighs less than 50 lbs. We always used to joke that he grew longer but not taller. But knowing now that he has Corgi in his ancestry, maybe that explains it! This makes Iggy our German Shepherd/Cattle Dog/Labrador Retriever/American Pit Bull/Chow Chow/Corgi mix.
If you have ever desired to find out the ancestry of your dog, we cannot recommend Embark* enough! The whole process was simple and hassle free, and finding out the breed mixes of Raleigh and Iggy was a lot of fun. The health results also make the price and process worth it! We have included links to the Embark site on this page should you want to explore the ancestry of your pooch. If you get a result that surprises you, let us know!
*The opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. Some of the links seen above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.