How we test your dog’s DNA

From drool to data.

It all starts with a cheek swab.

The easiest way to collect your dog’s DNA is by swabbing their cheek for a saliva sample. After you register your kit online and swab your dog, you’ll mail the sample back to us. We handle the rest from there. To track the sample through every stage of the analysis, we identify it with the unique ID found inside your kit.

envelope and swab overlap

A primer on dog DNA.

The saliva cells from your dog’s swab are full of DNA. This DNA lives in the nucleus of each cell and is wound up tightly into structures called chromosomes. The amount of genetic information stored in a single cell is equal to about 1.5 gigabytes of data. Multiply that by the number of cells in a dog, and you end up with a heap of full hard drives. All of that information is what makes your dog unique, from wet nose to wagging tail.

Blue cell

Dog DNA is broken into bases.

The chromosomes in the cell contain genes that are made up of four chemical bases represented by the letters A, T, C, and G. These bases combine in specific ways to create a blueprint for your dog.

Chromosome with basepairs

Taking a closer look.

To get a more accurate look at your dog’s genetics, we separate the DNA from other parts of the cell and make millions of copies so we can analyze it. As you might guess, this process takes a while.

Genes close up

Your dog in high resolution.

Once the copies are made, the DNA is ready to be analyzed on our research-grade microarray. We look at DNA in over 230,000 different locations across your dog’s genome to collect as much information as possible about the dogs we test. This is how we discover your dog’s ancestry, health, traits, relatives, and more.

Putting the pieces together.

Finally, we run the information through our database to compare your dog’s unique genetic code with the codes of dogs of known ancestry. This tells us about your dog’s unique genetics and can confirm whether certain traits have been inherited.

By looking at how the bases A, T, C, and G are arranged in the code, we’re able to identify breed origins as well as sniff out indicators for your dog’s health. We record all our findings and deliver them to you as your dog’s results.

Duke vector

Helping all dogkind.

While you wait for your results, you can answer survey questions on your profile about your dog. The answers help inform new discoveries about canine health and traits–helping your dog and all dogs live longer, healthier lives.

Tell us about your dog
Dog globe