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How Dog DNA Testing Works

Genetics and inheritance can be complicated. Learn all about how dog DNA testing works, from genetics 101 to the science behind DNA genotyping technology and our laboratory processes.

An Australian Shepherd dog getting their mouth swabbed for a dog DNA test.
How Dog DNA Testing Works

How Do Dog DNA Tests Work?

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You probably know that DNA testing, for animals or for humans, involves sending in a saliva or blood sample and waiting for the results. But what happens to your dog’s sample after it gets to the Embark lab? Let’s break down the science behind how dog DNA tests work. The basics of how dog DNA...

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Illustrated puppies with different color coats due to Mendelian inheritance
How Dog DNA Testing Works

Mendelian Inheritance Explained

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All living things inherit their traits from their parents, whether it’s a person’s height, a dog’s coat type, or a flower’s petal color. Traits aren’t copied with 100% accuracy from parent to offspring, though. Since traits are inherited from both parents, all sorts of mixing and matching can occur on the genetic level. The environment...

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How Dog DNA Testing Works

Genetic Inheritance and Recombination

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Why do littermates look different from each other? How is breed ancestry inherited? Learn more in this introductory video on genetic inheritance. What is genetic inheritance? How does genetic recombination work? Why do human siblings not look exactly alike? Why do canine littermates often look different from each other? Even though puppies will receive half...

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microarray
How Dog DNA Testing Works

Ins and Outs of Microarray-Based Dog DNA Testing

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Hi everyone! Erin, Embark’s Senior Veterinary Geneticist, here. As more people have been choosing Embark for their genetic testing needs, I’ve been receiving quite a few questions about our technology — what is “DNA microarray technology?” “Is it proprietary?” “How do you know it’s accurate?” “How is it different from the single mutation tests that...

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Close up of a lab technician's hands wearing blue latex gloves while holding and washing a thin glass slide known as a microarray.
How Dog DNA Testing Works

How DNA Genotyping Works… and Why It Sometimes Doesn’t

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Occasionally, we get questions from customers curious about how their dog’s DNA is processed into the genotype data that we analyze to understand breed ancestry and health risks. Once we receive your dog’s cheek swab, the DNA contained in the sample is copied many times in a process called amplification. Next, all of those copies...

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How Dog DNA Testing Works

Top Reasons to Get Your Dog’s DNA Tested

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Dog; it’s the first word many of us learn and the first friend many of us have. Dogs are an integral part of our communities and lives, they represent a feeling of warmth, home and comfort to so many. While pets often become members of the family, many don’t know as much as they could...

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shiba inu
How Dog DNA Testing Works

VIDEO: Inbreeding Explained

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When closely related dogs mate, it is defined as inbreeding. “Inbreeding is the mating of individuals or organisms that are genetically closely related, resulting in increased homozygosity and consequently an increase in the occurrence of recessive traits,” according to Nature. “This can lead to inbreeding depression: reduced biological fitness of the population.” In this video,...

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adam boyko
How Dog DNA Testing Works

Embark CSO Explains Genetic Diversity

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Genetic diversity refers to the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a certain species. Embark cofounder and Chief Science Officer Dr. Adam Boyko explains genetic diversity and how it affects dogs in the following video. Dr. Boyko has traveled to every inhabitable continent to study dogs and is a professor at...

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siblings with pup
How Dog DNA Testing Works

Why Human & Dog Siblings Have Different DNA

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My Italian grandmother and her brother recently tested their DNA with the same company and got very different results. Since I work for a startup that makes dog DNA tests, they turned to me for answers. “One of us is not from the milkman, Ashley, how did this happen?” my Nona asked. “How can it...

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dog illustrations
How Dog DNA Testing Works

A Tail of Two Breeds: How Dog DNA Diverges Over Time

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At Embark, we often receive questions like this one: “How can you differentiate ancestry between closely related breeds?” For example, American Bulldogs and modern English Bulldogs are the descendants of working English Bulldogs that made their way to America with working-class immigrants. So, how can we tell the difference between the genetics of American Bulldogs...

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How Dog DNA Testing Works

Oedipus Rex: Dog Inbreeding, its Consequences, and its Quantification

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For millenia, dog breeders have intentionally mated relatives as a way to fix traits in a lineage, recognizing that there is a reduction of fitness in offspring of close relatives. However, this certainly wasn’t always intentional as one can see from this post on the Hapsburg lip. A century ago, Sewall Wright devised the coefficient...

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big dalmatian mix
How Dog DNA Testing Works

Genetic Weight: Informed by Science, and You

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Greetings, Embarkers! I want to spend a bit of time discussing one of our features: genetic weight. We get a lot of questions about this: How do we arrive at your dog’s individual results? How come we get it wrong sometimes? Read on to learn more. The reason dogs rule (from a genomicist’s point of...

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