Frequently Asked Questions
  • I don’t need my dog tested for health conditions not related to my breed, how do I test for my specific breed?
    Embark recognizes that the known disorders relevant to your breed are of the highest priority, and your Embark test results will always identify and list known disorders impacting your breed at the top of your report. Additionally, your Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) report will prioritize those disorders recommended by breed clubs to the OFA. However, at no additional cost to you, known disorders in other breeds are also assayed and can alert you and your breed organization to early detection of deleterious mutations not previously associated with or studied within your breed. Embark offers one-on-one genetic counseling with our veterinary geneticists. Please contact us at breeders@embarkvet.com to schedule time for genetic counseling.
  • How far back does coefficient of inbreeding (COI) go?
    Unlike pedigree-based COIs, which are a statistical inference based on the likelihood of inheriting a percentage of the genome from an ancestor, we provide a more accurate genetic COI percentage. COI evaluates how related a dog’s parents are; genetically speaking, this translates to how similar one set of a dog’s chromosomes are to the other (remember, dogs inherit one set of chromosomes from each parent). We use nearly all of our 200,000+ markers to identify segments of chromosomes that are highly likely to have been inherited from a common ancestor. In comparison, tests that evaluate only small parts of the genome, or estimate homozygosity based on “identity by state,” can miss long inbreeding tracks (sometimes entire chromosomes). With over 200,000 markers spaced throughout the genome, our test uncovers long (and short) inbreeding tracks, providing you with the most accurate COI estimate possible for your dog.
  • Why does another testing service offer a specific mutation test, but you don’t?
    Some mutations have been noted, but not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal. Alternatively, some mutations have been published, but have not been validated in-house or by other researchers. At Embark, we believe that scientific peer review and replicability are critical requirements and do not offer mutation-based tests that lack either. We review the literature regularly to assess new publications. In general, each year, we update our testing platform to include tests for mutations that have recently been published or validated. These tests will be visible on our website when available.
    Embark also has a strict quality control process, and we validate each test against samples from known carriers and At Risk dogs. If there is a published mutation test for your breed that is currently not offered by Embark, please contact us at breeders@embarkvet.com.
  • How do I share my results with colleagues, puppy buyers, or my veterinarian?
    You can directly share your dog’s results in several ways:

    1. Set the profile setting to public and share a dog’s unique Embark URL via email, social media, or on your website.
    2. Email or print your dog's Vet Report (or provide them with the unique URL generated when you click “Share Vet Report”). This report is abbreviated and health-focused.
    3. Download and print your dog’s Full Report, which is a detailed document with breed composition, health, and traits (complete with descriptions).
    4. For purebred dogs, you can generate an OFA report that can be downloaded as a PDF or printed and shared as well.

    Links to all of these reports can be found on your dog’s profile homepage.
  • Do you offer parentage testing?
    Embark’s testing platform is able to provide parentage information and genetic relatedness. This is not included in our standard reporting. Please email breeders@embarkvet.com from the email address associated with your Embark account to request genetic relatedness information. We will need permission from all owners to provide this information.
  • Does the OFA accept your results?
    Our test results are accepted by the OFA for all conditions where OFA has an established DNA registry. However, it is their policy for specific tests to only list patent licensees on their website. These tests include MDR1, PRA, and VWD I. Please contact breeders@embarkvet.com for any questions or assistance.

  • What coat colors do you offer testing for?
    Embark is pleased to offer coat color and trait testing for every dog at no additional charge! Some are listed below.

    Coat Color:
    E Locus (Mask/Grizzle/Recessive Red): Em, Eg, E, e
    K Locus (Dominant Black): KB, ky
    A Locus (Agouti/Fawn/Sable): ay, aw, at, a
    B Locus (Brown/Red/Chocolate/Liver): B, b
    D Locus (Dilute/Blue/Fawn): D, d

    Other traits we include:
    Furnishings (RSPO2)
    Curly Coat (KRT71)
    Long Hair (FGF5)
    Shedding (MC5R)
    Body Size (IGF1, IGF1R, GHR, STC2)
  • Do you offer expedited shipping?

    Yes! Expedited shipping options are available for an additional fee.



    First Class Shipping (3-7 business days), Price: Free; Priority Shipping (1-3 business days), Price: $7.50; Priority Express Shipping (1-2 business days), Price: $31.00.
  • I’m a breeder and I don’t see my breed on your list. How will it be reported?
    Even if you do not see your breed on our breed list, rest-assured your dog will be tested for genetic health risks, traits, and COI. Click here for more information.
  • My dog is pregnant, in heat, taking medication, seems disoriented, or otherwise not normal. Will this affect their results?
    Pregnancy, being in heat, and medications should not alter the test results. If a medication causes your dog to have a dry mouth, you will want to take a little bit longer to swab to be sure sufficient saliva is collected. Dogs with oral cancer or cancer affecting the lymph nodes or salivary glands may end up with poor quality genotyping if the sample includes cancer cells. If your dog has a growth or tumor in his or her mouth, we recommend swabbing on the other side of the mouth.
  • How young can a puppy be swabbed?
    Puppies can be tested at any age as the results won't change, but we do advise waiting until they are at least 2 weeks old as we recommend separating them from the dam and littermates for at least 1 hour to minimize contamination. We also recommend swabbing for double the time since they produce less saliva. Be sure to keep them warm and safe during the separation.
  • What’s the difference between a blood and a saliva sample? Are you sure that you’re as accurate as a blood sample?
    Blood and saliva can both provide a good source of DNA for genetic testing. Our goal is to provide easy testing without requiring a trip to the vet’s office to collect blood or special return shipping methods. Each test undergoes stringent quality control and analysis to ensure the accuracy of results, leading to a greater than 99.99% accuracy rate for most tests.
  • My breed club is interested in partnering with you, who should we contact?
    Our Breed Club Research Partnership Program is designed to empower both the stewards of the breed and individual breeders with the tools to make informed breeding decisions. Please contact breeders@embarkvet.com to learn more about our partnership opportunities.


  • My dog only has one copy of a mutation, but you say they're “At Risk.” How can this be?
    For each test, you have the possibility of receiving the following results: Clear, Carrier, or At Risk.

    Clear means that your dog has two healthy copies of the gene sequence being tested and is not At Risk for developing the associated disease, at least due to the effects of that mutation.

    Carrier means that your dog carries one copy of a healthy sequence and one copy of a mutated sequence and that he or she is not at risk of being clinically affected with the disease. Embark describes the carrier state only for diseases that are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. Therefore, Carriers will pass the mutated copy of the gene to about half of their offspring.

    At Risk means that your dog has the potential for showing clinical signs of the disease for which the mutation promotes risk.

    For diseases that are inherited in an autosomal recessive fashion, it means your dog has two copies of the mutation. For diseases expressed in a dominant manner, only one copy of the mutation is needed for a dog to be at risk.

    For diseases that are X-linked (the mutation resides on the X chromosome) male dogs need just one copy of the mutation to be At Risk—as they have only one X chromosome. For recessively inherited conditions, female dogs require two copies of the mutation to be At Risk. Female dogs who have one copy of a recessively inherited X-linked mutation are often referred to as carriers, but they can exhibit signs of disease that range from clinically asymptomatic to fully affected. This is due to a phenomenon known as X-Chromosome Inactivation.

    Keep in mind that an At-Risk result is by no means a clinical diagnosis. We strongly recommend contacting your veterinarian or Embark's team of veterinary geneticists.
  • Can you use umbilical cords, docked tails, cropped ears, dewclaws, semen, or hair to test my dog?
    At this time, Embark is only able to routinely accept Embark-specific cheek swabs for testing. If you have a unique situation (e.g. the dog you would like to test is deceased or you are not able to collect a cheek swab), please contact breeders@embarkvet.com to discuss our non-routine testing options, cost, and turnaround time.


Get the skinny on your dog's genes today