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Embark Helps Shelter Dogs Find Their Forever Homes


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April 30 is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day. We think it’s also the perfect time to celebrate Embark’s “Homed for the Holidays” program! Through this project, which began in November 2023, we donated a total of 160 Embark Breed + Health DNA Tests to 16 different animal shelters in the U.S.

Animal shelters across the country told us that DNA testing can help shelter dogs get adopted, and we’ve seen that happen again and again. We’re excited to share that “Homed for the Holidays” resulted in adoptions for 64% of the dogs who tested with Embark so far, with more adoptions on the way. All of our shelter partners who participated in the program reported an increase in adoptions, volunteer enthusiasm, public interest, and social engagement.

Keep reading to see how DNA testing helped these good boys and girls get adopted, and to hear about some of the special dogs who found their forever homes!

How testing with Embark helps shelter dogs get adopted

Animal shelters and rescues across the U.S. are overwhelmed and overflowing. Since 2021, there’s been a 22% increase in stray dogs taken in by shelters, according to Shelter Animals Count. Many shelters have found themselves in a crisis and forced to turn animals away. 

DNA testing can help. By revealing a dog’s unique breed mix, Embark Dog DNA Tests help shelters and prospective adopters celebrate what makes every dog special. It also provides valuable information for adopters to get to know their new family member better as they prepare to bring them home. Animal shelters across the country have seen that dogs—even those who have been in the shelter’s care for a long time—are often placed with families soon after taking a DNA test.

“We know the Embark tests helped these dogs find their forever homes,” said Great Dog Rescue New England Co-Director Betsy Herald. “One of our rescue pups, Amber Dixie, had over 300 views with no adoption inquiries. But once we shared her Embark results, she got an application right away and has since been adopted. We have similar stories for other dogs we used the Embark DNA tests on, and we couldn’t be happier for our pups finding their forever homes.” 

“The DNA tests definitely helped get these dogs adopted – especially Juliet and Leo,” said Kim Cary, social media coordinator at Main Line Animal Rescue in Phoenixville, PA. “The adopters were so interested in finding out the breeds. One adopter loved German Shepherds, so it was nice to be able to say that Juliet truly did have that breed in her. Leo’s results really helped because he was mostly a Golden Retriever—despite his short, black fur—and that certainly pushed adopters toward him!”

Homed for the Holidays: by the numbers

Through our Homed for the Holidays program, we learned a lot about the shelter dogs available for adoption in the U.S. Here’s a snapshot of their DNA results.

Breed makeup

  • Dogs tested with Embark had four breeds, on average, in their ancestry report.
  • Over 25% of dogs had six or more breeds in their ancestry.
  • The top breed for dogs tested was American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT). 45% of dogs had APBT as their primary breed, but APBT ancestry made up less than half of the breed makeup in three-quarters of those dogs. 
  • The other top breeds were American Bully, Poodle, Rottweiler, and Chihuahua.


  • 33% of dogs tested had at least one immediate relative already in Embark’s database.

Health risks

  • 33% of dogs tested were at increased risk for mast cell tumors (MCT), a very treatable form of cancer when caught early. Now, adopters are empowered to keep an eye out for lumps and bumps and bring their dog to the vet early if they spot anything unusual.
  • 9% of dogs tested were at risk for Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) Type I, a back/spine issue that can be managed by using ramps for furniture or a harness on walks.

Dogs adopted through Homed for the Holidays

Curious about the shelter dogs who found their forever homes? Read some of their heartwarming stories:

  • Goudacris survived a months-long battle with heartworm with the help of One Tail at a Time in Chicago. This gentle giant—an “80-pound lap dog”—made a full recovery and found his forever home with Elizabeth and Dan.
  • Tinkerbell was brought to Almost There Rescue in Arizona with her eight puppies. Many people thought she was primarily a Golden Retriever, so her breed results were a big surprise! This sweet girl loves to snuggle with her humans and was recently adopted by her foster family.
  • “Love bug” Lua starred in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, representing adoptable animals searching for a permanent home. Lua was adopted by her foster family shortly after New Year’s Day 2024.
  • Shade and Bonnie at Pasadena Humane both had surprising breed results. Shade, who looked like a Shepherd mix, turned out to be 35% Poodle. Bonnie’s test results revealed she is 27% Chihuahua, 25% Corgi, and 25% Australian Shepherd, among other breeds. Both have been adopted.
  • Stay tuned to hear Amber Dixie’s adoption story and how she reunited with her puppies through Embark’s Relative Finder!

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