DNA testing is something that has been incredibly popular among people for a while now, it gives us a way to access our history and possibly even reach out to family members that we didn’t know existed.
But one area of home DNA research that people might not have seen coming is in our dogs. When home DNA kits were first created, it’s highly unlikely that the inventor could have fathomed that they would one day be used to determine the different breeds that have contributed to your dog’s DNA.
Despite this, dog DNA tests are an extremely popular purchase and there are lots of different manufacturers who produce these kits. One of the leading companies in this field is Wisdom Panel, so today we’ll be looking at what products Wisdom Panel offer and whether they are worth purchasing.
What is Wisdom Panel?
Before we look at the different products that Wisdom Panel offer, let’s take a look at the company history. The DNA testing kits that Wisdom Panel offer for your dog have been 15 years in the making.
Unsurprisingly, dog DNA research is something that has only occurred in recent years and does not have as much research as human DNA.
In 2002, the Genomics Technology Platform was created purely with the intention to research canine DNA. This research continued and by 2007, Wisdom Panel was ready to launch their tests into the US market.
However, originally Wisdom Panel tests were only rolled out on the veterinarian market. It wasn’t until 2 years later in 2009 that consumers would be able to get their hands on a DNA test for their dog.
Since then the company has continued to grow and grow, producing more tests and refining their technology and knowledge with every moment that passed.
In 2011, Wisdom Panel launched their first test that looked specifically at pedigree breeds as the ‘Wisdom Panel Purebred and Designer Dogs’ test-launched.
That same year, they also launched the ‘Optimal Selection Canine Genetic Breeding Analysis’ test, designed specifically for breeders. It was the first diversity-focused tool to launch on the commercial market for dogs.
Two years later, in 2013 the Wisdom Panel 2.0 test launched with new technology and more information to draw the public’s attention.
The company goes quiet until 2015 when they launch their Wisdom Panel 2.5 and 3.0 tests in quick succession, and these are the first tests to include the MDR1 screening as part of the kit.
The following year, Wisdom Panel launched their 4.0 model and included trait analysis as part of the test for the first time. That same year, Wisdom Panel expanded from canine testing to also include a feline test designed for cat breeders.
Up until 2016, Wisdom Panel tests for dogs only looked at breeds and traits, but in 2017 they launched the ‘Wisdom Panel Health Test’. This test not only looks at the breed of your dog but also screens for potential health conditions, particularly those associated with the different breeds that your dog consists of.
Since then research has continued, and Wisdom Panel researchers work tirelessly to keep on top with new discoveries and the impact this could have on their existing technology.
Now that we’ve taken a look at this company’s history, let’s take a look at how their DNA testing process and the different products and tests that Wisdom Panel has created for our furbabies.
How does it work?
As we have already established, Wisdom Panel has a variety of different DNA tests that they offer. Although they have produced a variety of different tests over the years, they now have 2 tests that are designed for dogs. So let’s take a look at these products to get a better idea of how the testing process works.
The first dog DNA test that they offer is known as the Wisdom Panel Essential test. This is the more basic of the 2 dog tests that they offer, and as such has a lower price mark. Despite it being the base level of their tests, the essential kit still offers insight into your dog’s ancestry, their traits, and also health insights about their breed.
You might expect their basic test to offer less information, but as the world’s leading dog DNA service, Wisdom Panel offers lots of information in both of their tests.
The other test that Wisdom Panel currently offers is the Wisdom Panel Premium Test. As its name suggests, this is the more advanced option out of the products that Wisdom Panel offers for your dog. This test offers pretty much everything that the essential test offers but has so many other features on top which make it the ‘premium’ option.
The Premium test was developed by world-leading geneticists and is most commonly used by veterinarians because of the vast amount of information it can supply about a dog from a single DNA sample.
While it is most popular among vets, this is an extremely comprehensive test and it can also be bought as a consumer product if you want to find out a lot of information about your dog.
As you would probably expect, both of these tests can be completed in the same way as one another. The first thing you need to do upon receiving your test is to activate it. Once the kit has been activated, you can then use the swab to take a DNA sample from the inside of your dog’s mouth for 15 seconds.
Once you have taken the sample, simply bag it up and send it back to the test center in the prepaid envelope included in the kit.
Once the lab has received your dog’s DNA sample it usually takes between 2-3 weeks for your results to be ready to view. However, your part in the testing process is simple. All you need to do is swab, send, and wait.
Why choose Wisdom Panel?
You might be reading this and thinking, ‘what makes Wisdom Panel so special?’. A lot of people might choose to use Wisdom Panel because of their vast knowledge about canine DNA, however, the company has a lot of other features that make them an excellent choice.
First, let’s take a look at all the excellent features that are included in their ‘essential’ test. The main reason that you would purchase the ‘essential test’ is to find out more information about your dog’s breed history.
While it does include some health insight, this is limited and if you want a health test on your dog, you would be better off choosing the premium test. The main thing that the ‘essential test’ offers is a breed breakdown. This is essentially the dog equivalent of the ethnicity estimate that most human DNA test kits include.
If your dog is a mixed breed or a rescue and you don’t know much about their history, this could be a great choice for you. The test screens your dog’s DNA against over 350 breed types to produce an accurate breakdown of the breeds that are in your dog’s ancestry.
As well as tracing your dog’s breed breakdown, this test is also able to program this information onto a family tree. Providing information on your dog’s parents, grandparents, and other ancestors, and what percentage of their breed each of these relatives provided.
Additionally to this, the test also looks at genetic traits in your dog. This looks at the color of your dog’s coat, along with their body type and other features to explain why they look the way that they do based on their genetics.
On top of all this fun information about your dog’s ancestry, the test also includes some minor health tests. The main one being an ‘ideal weight’ for your dog. You probably will have already been told what your dog’s ideal weight is by a vet, but vets operate ideal weight off of a chart.
When in reality, the ideal weight for a dog differs from animal to animal, and your dog’s ideal weight can only be determined by looking at their DNA.
As well as generating an ideal weight for your dog, this test also runs your dog’s DNA against more than 25 health conditions that have the potential to cause issues during routine procedures. This mainly includes the neutering/spaying operation that most owners choose to do, giving you peace of mind that your dog’s surgery will run smoothly.
So that is the ‘essential test’ covered, but what about the premium test? As we’ve already mentioned, the premium test includes everything that the essential test includes, it just has some added features that justify its increased cost.
These additional features all revolve around potential health conditions that could affect your dog in their lifetime. The premium test includes the ideal weight test and also screens your dog’s DNA against the health conditions that affect common procedures, as well as other conditions.
The main addition to the essential test is that the premium test also tests for carrier status. Certain breeds of dogs have predispositions to certain health conditions that can affect their quality of life or their lifespan. This is a popular test among breeders, as you want to ensure that your dog can produce healthy offspring. By finding out your dog’s carrier status, you will be able to identify whether they are suitable for breeding or not.
As well as the carrier test, the Wisdom Panel Premium also screens for over 200 tests. These include possible side effects to medications, eating conditions, mobility issues and so much more. To some dog-owners, this might seem like a daunting thing to complete as you could end up worrying about conditions that your dog may never develop.
However, this test also gives you tips on what to do and information on how to proactively plan for when these conditions develop throughout your dog’s life.
Finally, the premium test offers the chance to consult with a vet, which is something you might want to do if the tests show possible health concerns.
Within the cost of the premium test, a 15-minute phone consultation with a vet is included. This allows you to gain more information about your dog’s results and hopefully settle any concerns that you may have.
From all these excellent features, you might think that the Wisdom Panel Canine tests are faultless, but no product is without its issues. So let’s take a look at some of the potential issues that people have noted from the Wisdom Panel dog DNA tests.
Issues with Wisdom Panel
While the Wisdom Panel dog DNA kits are packed with wonderful features, every test has its issues, and Wisdom Panel is no different. That being said, the majority of faults that people have found with Wisdom Panel are quite trivial.
One issue that some people have with the Wisdom Panel tests is that both their essential and premium kits include health condition tests. For a lot of people, the health tests are an important part of the Wisdom Panel test, however, for some people, these health tests bring bad news that they may have preferred not to have known.
Some people who complete dog DNA tests do so purely because they want to find out more about their dog’s history, and the breeds that make up their genetics.
For these people, who do not want to know about potential risks to their dog’s health, Wisdom Panel does not offer an appropriate test for them. While this is not a precise issue with the products that Wisdom Panel offer, it is a potential reason why you may choose to go with a different company.
Another potential issue you might find with Wisdom Panel is the actual sampling process. While taking a swab of the inside of your dog’s cheek might seem like an easy task, in reality, it is not.
Even the best-behaved dog often refuses to behave when you have something that you need them to do, so your dog will likely act up during the sampling process.
The other issue that comes with the sampling, is the length of time that you are required to swab the inside of their month for. 15 seconds seems like a small amount of time until you actually sit down and time it.
Most DNA kits require you to swab the inside of the mouth for 3-5 seconds, and even this is a long time. Wisdom Panel requires you to swab the inside of your dog’s mouth for 3 times this, and it can be really hard to get your dog to behave for the 15 seconds that Wisdom Panel requires.
The final issue that some people find with Wisdom Panel is that their tests are rather pricey. Even their more basic kit is a lot more expensive than other dog DNA tests, and this can be off-putting.
That being said, Wisdom Panel does have the most extensive database for dog DNA and knowledge so you are paying for access to this information. It is also worth noting that Wisdom Panel often runs discount programs where you can buy the kit for a much lower price than its retail.
So if you want to buy this kit but are put off by the price, you could consider waiting for their sale to begin.
Alternatives to Wisdom Panel
If the issues that we have looked at are enough to put you off purchasing the Wisdom Panel DNA kits, there are a vast amount of other companies that produce dog DNA kits.
However, Wisdom Panel is definitely the leading company in this field so if reputation is something that you value the most, it would be best if you chose the Wisdom Panel test kit.
One of the main competitors to Wisdom Panel is Embark. The products that Embark offers are incredibly similar to those produced by Wisdom Panel. They offer a comprehensive DNA kit that includes breed identification, ancestry and trait analysis, and genetic health tests.
However, their health tests are not as in-depth as the ones that are completed by Wisdom Panel. They also offer a breeder test which is specifically designed to include all the tests that someone who is looking to breed their dog would need to know before breeding. But, similarly to Wisdom Panel, Embark is quite a pricy test which can put some people off buying it.
Another popular alternative is the Orivet Dog DNA kit. Orivet produces DNA kits for both dogs and cats and offers tests into your dog’s health and also their breed and ancestry. Just like the other companies that we have looked at, Orivet has an extensive database that allows you to find out lots about your dog just by simply swabbing the inside of their cheek.
If you want to purchase both their health and breed test, Orivet works out more expensive than Wisdom Panel and Embark. However, if you are only looking for either a health test or a breed test, Orivet might be the best value option for you.
In short, Wisdom Panel is by far the best option if you are looking to complete a DNA kit for your dog.
While the sampling process can be tricky, Wisdom Panel has an incredible database that is guaranteed to supply you with all the information you could possibly need to know about your dog.