DNA testing kits are becoming increasingly popular. People are curious to find out their heritage, and now, the same can be said for their dogs.
With multiple kits offered over the counter, pet owners are DNA testing Fido for multiple reasons.
“I have 14. I have two Boston Terriers and the rest are Frenchies from ages 13 to a little less than four months,” said Cretia Ridderikhoff who has been breeding dogs for more than 40 years now.
As a second-generation breeder, she said her love for dogs started at a young age.
“My mother was a breeder, she started with Doberman Pinchers, Bostons and then a few years later she got into Frenchies so then I helped her and that’s the story,” said Ridderikhoff.
Now, she prides herself in her award-winning litters.
“I’ve had some grand champions and I’ve got several champions now here in the house,” said Ridderikhoff.
But breeding a grand champion is no easy task. That’s why Ridderikhoff said she turns to DNA testing for additional guidance.
“You breed according to that knowledge so the more information you have, the better choices you can make and you can produce healthier dogs,” said Riderrikhoff.
Dog DNA testing is only a requirement for breeders when registering dogs with the American Kennel Club.
“When the dog has had three litters in a year, AKC requires to have a DNA profile and also if they have been bred more than 7 times in their lifetime,” said Riderrikhoff.
But Ridderikhoff said, she DNA tests all her pups, even when it’s not required.
“If you’ve got a dog that’s a really nice dog and has a great personality but might be a carrier of a condition, you could use that information and breed that gene out of that dog,” said Riderrikhoff.
She said DNA testing doesn’t just help prove the authenticity of a breed but helps create a healthy lineage.
“This is a way of helping the breed as a whole and the pet population of Frenchies as well as show dogs so we’re trying to be conscience of what diseases are out there that are plaguing the breed,” said Riderrikhoff.
Dog DNA tests can cost anywhere from $50 to $400 and with a steep price like that, you might be wondering how a DNA test will benefit your pet, if you’re not trying to breed a blood-line champion.
“It can be done either with a mouth swab or a blood test,” said Doctor Mary Emerick, who works at the Park Hill Pet Clinic in North Little Rock.
The facility offers lineage DNA tests for pups.
“Mostly it’s people that have a mixed breed dog and they want to know what kind of dog it is, what the mixture is,” said Dr. Emerick.
She said knowing what breeds compose your dog could be useful during house training.
“You can look up and see what breeds are prone to certain behaviors and that might help with the owner to know what to expect or how to train them better,” said Dr. Emerick.
Aside from lineage DNA tests, there are more advanced kits that can detect genetic characteristics that can cause your dog health risks.
Doctor Karen Lechelt at House Veterinary Clinic said these advanced tests can help vets provide better care for pets.
“He shows let’s say predisposition to let’s say diabetes, then we know from a puppy on, whether it’s a proper diet or weight control, something we can manage so he doesn’t develop diabetes since he’s predisposed to it,” said Dr. Lechelt.
However, there are some cons to these DNA kits.
“It’s not an exact science at this point. It’s maybe a little bit more for entertainment value than medical value at this point,” said Dr. Lexhelt.
Doctor Lechelt said, the results aren’t always the most accurate.
“He looks like a Pomeranian and it comes back as a Pepion with a Dachshund and a Pit Bull, you just never know what you’re going to get,” said Dr. Lechelt.
As far as the gene characteristic tests, she says those are also still developing.
“They are starting to do some where you know certain breeds predisposed to kidney disease or diabetes things like that but it’s still a fairly new process,” said Dr. Lechelt.
So are these tests worth the money?
‘If you’re going to breed, I suggest you do dog DNA testing,” said Riderrikhoff.
“As time goes on and the test get more specific and more reliable, yes it would be a good thing to have,” said Dr. Lechelt.
With mixed reviews, it’s up to pet parents to decide if the curiosity is worth the cash.