How Many Chromosomes Do Dogs Have?

DNA is such a fascinating topic. In recent years, more people than ever are deciding to trace their own DNA to find out their heritage or blood relations.

In the 21st Century, the way DNA has been used to discover things has been revolutionary.

DNA is a fairly recent discovery and it was only in the late ’80s that it was used to uncover murders.

Since then, it is commonly used to uncover who the father is to a child and whether or not people are related.

DNA has become a simple and easy thing to test considering that little was known about it 40 years ago.

a picture of a chromosome

If you own a dog, then you may be curious about how your dog’s DNA is compared to your own. You may be wondering whether or not dogs have the same amount of chromosomes as humans, and if not, why?

In this article, we will be taking a closer look at a dog’s chromosomes and DNA to provide you with some detailed information about your furry friend’s chromosome history. We will also be discussing how their DNA and chromosomes compare to our own. 

What is DNA?

DNA is an abbreviation for the word deoxyribonucleic acid. Your DNA is what makes up your genome and genetic code. It is a molecule made up of two strands. These strands are a pair and are attached by hydrogen bonds.

The shape of DNA is a helix and the way that it is all bonded together is often referred to as the DNA ladder.

The genome is your genetic instructions. Every single genome that a human or species has, contains all of the information that is needed to create the organism. The genome then grows and develops into a human or other species. 

While this may sound confusing in scientific terms, it is fairly simple to understand when broken down. In short, we need DNA to be alive. It is the DNA that will make up your overall genome. Your genome is made up of billions of strands that then form chromosomes. 

All of these aspects are needed to create life. When you think about how minuscule all of these aspects are, it is impressive to think that every life form is made up of a mixture of all of these.

Now that you have a basic understanding, next we will be discussing dog DNA in particular. While this article is focusing on chromosomes, you will need to have an overall understanding of a dog’s DNA to understand chromosomes.

Difference Between A Dog’s DNA And A Humans

If you have some understanding of DNA and chromosomes, then you may already know how many chromosomes a human body has. When looking at the human body, it is made up of approximately 3,000,000,000 genomes. These genomes are what make up the chromosomes.

23 pairs of chromosomes make up the human body. This means that humans have a total of 46 chromosomes. Half of the chromosomes are inherited from the father and the other half are inherited from the mother. 

When looking at men and women, each has slightly different chromosomes that determine their sex. Men have both an X and a Y chromosome in their cells, whereas women simply have two X chromosomes. 

It is worth noting that this is correct for the vast majority of people. However, there are some instances where humans will have slightly different chromosomes due to different syndromes that can occur.

Now that you know how many chromosomes a human has, we will take a look at a dog’s to see how they compare.

How Many Chromosomes Does A Dog Have?

As you may have already guessed, every animal and species has a set number of chromosomes, this is even including plants. These numbers and the way that the DNA is made up is different for every species. This is what causes a differentiation between everything.

So while the majority of humans have a total of 46 chromosomes, this is different from a dog. Dogs have a whopping total of 78 chromosomes, which is significantly more than us humans!

Dogs have 38 pairs of autosomes in total. Autosomes are non-sex chromosomes. These pairs of autosomes equal to 76 chromosomes.

However, unlike humans, dogs also have two sex chromosomes which as X and Y. It is these chromosomes that bring the dog’s total amount up to 78. 

Like humans, dogs receive half of their chromosomes from their mother and the other half from their father. Their chromosomes are made up of DNA too.

However, a dog’s chromosomes are different from a human’s. They have many more pairs, and the overall makeup is vastly different. 

Dog DNA And What It Can Tell Us About Their History 

DNA can tell us a lot about dogs. As science has progressed, a dog’s DNA can now be tested for a whole number of different things.

Thanks to this rise in popularity and availability of dog DNA testing, owners can now find out a lot more information in regards to their four-legged friends! 

There are many different things that you can test for using a dog’s DNA. 

The main reason that people choose to have their dog’s DNA tested is because of its ability to break down your dog’s breed. If for example, you have a rescue dog or a mixed breed, a DNA test can help you to determine the breed of your dog.

The accuracy is fairly good, and many companies will break down the results for you too. If your dog is a mixture of many breeds a DNA test can detect this. While this may not be something everyone is interested in, it can give you a good idea of your dog overall.

Finding out your dog’s breed or breeds can help you to determine how long your dog is likely to live, any potential health problems they may develop, and also different behavior traits.

While behavior is not completely down to the genetic makeup of a dog and its breed, certain dogs are more likely to have certain traits.

Even if you own a purebred dog, a DNA test can be useful to get confirmation of its pedigree status. In addition to this, dog DNA tests can help you to track your dog’s ancestry to a certain extent. 

DNA tests can help you to determine any potential health problems too. If your dog’s parents suffered from illnesses such as cancer, this can be hereditary. Given this, knowing your dog’s genetic history can help you to prepare for any illnesses.

It is worth noting that while illnesses and diseases can be hereditary, your dog may not necessarily suffer from the same illnesses.

While not everyone agrees with testing a dog’s DNA, it can tell you some interesting information that may prove to be useful for you.

Chromosomes And Breeding

Did you know that the chromosomes that your dog has can have a big impact on breeding?

While all dogs have the same number of chromosomes, it is important to keep this in mind when dogs are breeding.

Although dogs have the same number of chromosomes, each breed of dog will have a slightly different genetic makeup. These differences are key when it comes to breeding.

For example, if you breed two of the same breed together, you will get a purebred. But, if you breed two different breeds together you will have a hybrid breed. In common terms, we would call this a cross or mixed breed. 

It is important to look at a dog’s genetic makeup when breeding to ensure that the dogs do not come from the same family.

Inbreeding is a huge problem and can be so dangerous for the dogs and the litter of puppies. If dogs are inbred, the puppies can suffer from several different issues, such as blindness, and cancer. 


We hope that this article has helped you to understand more about your dog’s chromosomes and DNA. While all of the scientific explanations can be confusing to understand at first, once explained your dog’s genome is an interesting and fascinating topic. 

As you can see, dogs are vastly different from humans in regards to their chromosomes and DNA. While every living creature has chromosomes and DNA, how they are made up is hugely different. It is these differences that help to differentiate species.

Dogs have a total of 78 individual chromosomes which make up 39 pairs in total. This is a big difference from humans who only have 46 individual chromosomes and 23 pairs.

If you are interested in finding out some more information about your dog’s DNA and would like to get it tested, several different companies offer this service. They are all well-known, trusted, and reliable brands. 

If you would like to find out more information about these companies, we have included links to some of their products from Amazon US below:

DNA My Dog

Wisdom Panel