While DNA testing and genealogy research is on the rise, it’s a science that isn’t just for humans anymore.
DNA testing has come to the canine world, as well.
Some of the best pets come from questionable backgrounds – dogs that are often referred to as being of the “Heinz 57” variety.
If your dog isn’t a purebred, don’t worry. You can still get “papers” for it.
There are now several companies that offer test kits to check your dog’s DNA, and give you – in some cases – pages of information concerning your canine’s heritage.
Such was the case for a dog named Trooper, who found a great home in Buckeye with Bill and Annette Graham.
Some things about Trooper needed no scientific research:
He came from an animal shelter in Mercer County, compliments of their son, Zachary. He can run like the wind, hunt like a tiger, sit under a tree for hours waiting for a squirrel to make a move or ride for days in a vehicle.
But the Grahams learned a lot more about Trooper last year when Zachary and his wife, Sarah, gave Bill a Wisdom Panel 2.5 DNA test kit for dogs as a birthday gift.
Two swabs from Trooper’s cheek produced 17 pages of information from Mars Veterinary in Portland, Oregon.
When submitting the DNA information form, owners are asked to list the breeds they suspect make up their pet’s lineage.
Based on the colors in Trooper’s coat and the spots on his tongue, Bill hazarded a guess that he might have some Chow and German Shepherd in his background.
As it turned out, those might be the only two breeds that Trooper lacks.
Trooper’s DNA panel shows that he is an American Staffordshire Terrier, Chinese Shar-Pei, Collie, German Shorthaired Pointer, Shetland Sheepdog mix
The report states, “The Wisdom Panel computer algorithm performed over seven million calculations using 11 different models – from a single breed to complex combinations of breeds – to predict the most likely combination of pure and mixed breed dogs in the last three ancestral generations that best fit the DNA marker pattern observed in Trooper.”
The report also contains breed history, appearance and behavior and includes the following information: “A portion of Trooper’s ancestry was predicted to be mixed beyond the three generations we test for…”
Mars Veterinary encourages DNA testing as a way for pet owners, breeders and veterinarians to provide the best care for pets.
Some breeds that are susceptible to arthritis may benefit from a specific diet that could hold off or at least reduce the effects of that ailment, and breeds that tend to have weight issues can be helped before obesity becomes a health issue.
DNA testing may uncover some other warnings, as well, as some dogs carry a bloodline of an aggressive breed that gets even more aggressive with age. Although the results are not definitive, this test will give pet owners a heads up so they can be on the lookout for potential problems.
While several companies offer canine DNA testing, webMD states that the most accurate results come from companies that draw from the largest number of breeds.
Mars Veterinary’s Wisdom Panel has 250 breeds in its database, but it also offers a more extensive, and more expensive, option with its Wisdom Panel Professional, which requires a blood test that can be done by your veterinarian.
Dr. Cindy Lightner with Greenbrier Veterinary Hospital said the Wisdom Panel Professional is the best test.
Although breed testing is good entertainment and may turn up things to monitor, Lightner said single trait DNA testing is by far the most useful in identifying specific defects and diseases.
Mars Veterinary, working with Genoscoper, recently launched a new project – testing feline DNA.
Cat owners and breeders will appreciate this new option – but the cats probably couldn’t care less.
Although it wasn’t reported in the DNA results, it is a known fact that Trooper doesn’t like cats – no matter their pedigree.