This honest Embark Vet review about our dog DNA test explains everything you need to know about how how the test works the the (amazing) results. You have a lot to learn about your pup, and this DNA test for dogs gives you all the answers!
This is Jersey:
Let me tell you a few things about her. She’s a 6-pound warrior with an adorable face. The sweetest pup you’ll ever meet, and my very best friend.
I know, everything thinks their dog is special. To be honest, if you didn’t think your dog was amazing I’d think there was something wrong with you.
But most people, after meeting Jersey, understand that she’s really special.
It’s not just that she survived a vicious attack when I left her with a pet sitter. People know she’s special because of how she recovered from that terrible injury. How she came out the other side without the use of her hind legs, but with the same sweet temperament, friendly personality and love of life that she had before that.
Even before she was injured, Jersey’s spirit was something to admire.
I had adopted her from a rescue when she was a year old. Her foster mom told me that she had been found in an unheated barn in the cold Minnesota winter. I took one look at that tiny, untrained and uncared for dog and knew that she was mine.
Now, 13 years later after her adoption, she’s been with me as I’ve been pregnant and given birth to two kids. She’s moved with us, taken vacations and lived all but one year of her life as a part of our family.
Most importantly, she’s survived, and she’s done it all with far more grace than most humans would. She’s gone through hell and, honestly, no one would be surprised if she had developed a little mean streak. If she had become fearful of unknown situations or untrusting of strangers.
But she hasn’t. As much as I’d love to take credit for her good nature, I know it’s a result of her breeding. From the day I brought her home, she’s been a bouncing, cheerful mass of joy, and I can only attribute that to her heritage.
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The most surprising thing about Jersey and her adoption happened the day I went to pick her up from the vet.
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Her foster family had brought her in to get spayed, and we had planned for me to pick her up and bring her home after surgery. They had left a little bag with her collar, leash and blanket. The receptionist at the vet handed the bag to me. After that, she gave me a folder and said, “And here’s her papers.”
The folder was from the AKC. Inside it were official papers that identified my dog as a purebred miniature poodle registered with the American Kennel Club. I was floored. I knew she was part poodle, but the shelter had never mentioned that she was purebred.
Of course, it hadn’t made a difference in our adoption decision. She was already adopted when we learned about her breeding. The information was just a bonus.
Then we got to know her. Got to know her playful disposition. Her tendency to never be mean. How easy she was to train. Her loyalty and her affinity for kids. And we knew she was a gem.
Years went by and the fact that she was purebred didn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that she was our dog.
Now, since she’s had a major brush with death and she’s over fourteen years old, my thoughts have turned to that purebred status. Because I can’t help but think about what my life will be like without her. How hard it will be, and how I could possibly be interested in other dogs that share some of Jersey’s DNA.
In addition to that, we’re facing more health challenges as Jersey gets older. Being aware of hereditary conditions could be helpful for her veterinary care.
So when I was offered an Embark Vet DNA Test for Purebred Dogs to review, I was immediately agreed.
This was my chance to learn more about Jersey’s history, her genetics and her health. I love my dog and I want to know everything about her. So I was very excited to review the EmbarkVet DNA test.
About the Embark dog DNA test:
This Embark Vet DNA for dogs test is known to be the best kit for purebred dog owners who want a complete sense of their dog’s health.
The results, containing actionable health insights, should be shared with the dog’s veterinarian for the best possible care.
Is Embark Vet legit?
I spent some time I was looking up information about the best dog DNA test. I found that the most common questions centered around the legitimacy of EmbarkVet, Wisdom Panel and the other, newer brands.
While I don’t know much about the other brands, I can tell you that I’ve read a lot about Embark and I have a lot of confidence in what I’ve learned.
In short, Embark Vet was founded by a pair of Ivy League scientists who have partnered with the Cornell University College of Medicine to bring cutting-edge science and insights about you dog directly to you. (source: EmbarkVet.com/about)
Beyond that, Embark Vet employs a scientific advisory board to ensure they’re working with the best veterinarians and dog researchers in the world.
How does the Embark DNA test for purebred dogs work?
The DNA test comes with instructions, a swab and prepaid mailing materials. You just need to swab your dog’s cheek and drop the sample in the mail. After a few weeks you’ll get email and text notifications that the DNA test results are ready to review.
What genetic information do you get with the results?
This particular DNA test for dogs gives you a so much information.
First, the test screens for over 210 genetic health risks and will inform you if your dog is at risk.
Next, the kit measures genetic diversity, which is generally thought of as inbreeding. Low genetic diversity is bad, and it’s caused by mating related individuals at some point in the dog’s ancestry.
Low genetic diversity is associated with poorer health, reduced fertility and a shorter life span.
About genetic diversity in dogs
Genetic diversity is a measure of how closely related a dog’s parents were.
Low genetic diversity doesn’t necessarily mean that a dog’s parents were known relatives when they were selected to breed. It’s typically more innocent than that.
Low genetic diversity means that two mated dogs most likely have a shared ancestor within the last five or six generations.
Until recently, maintaining records and keeping track of six generations of two different dogs and all their offspring would be an overwhelming job. It’s understandable that inbreeding could unintentionally occur.
Now, with DNA tests for dogs becoming popular, it’s getting easier to ensure a breeding dog’s DNA is recorded and registered to avoid loss of genetic diversity in future generations.
Finally, The Embark DNA dog test traces your dog’s breed and ancestry as far back as their great grand parents. It also connects dogs with a DNA relative finder that shows other dogs and how closely related they are.
What’s inside the EmbarkVet test kit?
When I received the test kit from EmbarkVet my first thought was, “that’s it?”. After opening up the kit, I was even more surprised at how little there was inside.
At the same time, I don’t know what I was expecting, and I’m really happy there wasn’t anything extra to keep or save after the test was done.
The EmbarkVet DNA Test for Purebred Dogs comes with just the necessary items:
- A tube of stabilizer solution with a swab on one end.
- A self-sealing bag for the sample.
- A bubble mailer with prepaid postage to send your dog’s DNA sample to the lab.
Instructions for how to collect the DNA sample from your dog are printed on the packaging. It’s a little thing, but I love that there was no extra paper to keep track of!
Testing my dog’s DNA with the EmbarkVet test
If I had a young dog, I think testing his or her DNA would be far more intense than how I felt when I did Jersey’s test. I’d be anxious to know about future health issues, and I’d also be worried about how confident I was in my dog’s actual breed.
Given that my dog is in her golden years, I didn’t feel that stress. I didn’t know what to expect, but any news couldn’t be that bad considering we’ve been lucky enough to have her for 13 years and counting!
Registering the kit at Embarkvet.com/Activate
The first thing you have to do when you open the DNA test kit is register with Embark Vet at Embark.com/activate.
You activate your kit at EmbarkVet.com by doing three things.
- Complete a basic registration with your information and contact details.
- Create a profile for the dog you’re testing.
- Enter the unique code from your Embark DNA test so it’s connected to you and your dog.
After doing those three things, you can collect your sample and send it in. Keep reading to see how it’s done.
How I got my dog’s DNA for her test
Jersey’s temperment has always been easygoing, and she’s become more docile with every birthday. These are the things Jersey lets me do on a regular basis:
- Hold her over a toilet to express her bladder.
- Wipe her bottom with baby wipes.
- Put diapers on her.
- Put baby onesies and dresses on her to keep the diapers on.
- Clean her ears.
- Manipulate her body for exercise and range of motion.
- Trim her nails.
That attack and injury I mentioned at the beginning of this post left Jersey paralyzed, which includes incontinence and the inability to control her bowel movements.
There’s probably more to add to that list, but, my point is: I didn’t think getting my dog’s DNA sample would be a challenge.
The instructions said to use the included sponge-tipped swab and rub it along the dog’s lower cheek pouches for 60 seconds. Maybe you don’t know this, but 60 seconds can be a long time, especially when you have your hand in your pup’s mouth.
So, even though I have an easygoing senior dog, swabbing for a DNA sample was still a challenge. I’d guess that this would be a two-person job if I was trying to collect a DNA sample from an energetic young dog.
What to do with the DNA sample
After I had swabbed my dog’s cheeks for the full 60 seconds, I inserted the swab, tip first, into the opposite end of the tube that had the stabilizer liquid. After shaking the swab with the liquid in the tube 10 times, the entire tube was sealed in the clear pouch and packed in the padded bubble envelope.
Since the envelope was already postage paid, I could drop it into any US Mail collection box. I chose to just put it in my own mailbox with the flag up so my mail carrier could pick it up.
How long does it take to get dog DNA test results back?
It took exactly one month to get Jersey’s DNA test results back from Embark Vet. That was the time from the day I mailed my dog’s DNA test to EmbarkVet to the day I received an email with the test results.
My dog’s DNA test results form Embark Vet
When the email came that announced Jersey’s DNA test information was ready to review, I was super excited.
Since I wasn’t too worried about health issues, I really wanted to know more about two different things:
- Jersey’s breed information. Was she really all miniature poodle?
- My dog’s relatives and ancestry. I had no idea if any relatives would show up on Jersey’s profile, but my fingers were crossed that we’d see something.
As you can see, testing my dog’s DNA was mostly about satisfying my own curiosity!
Health information in the dog DNA test results
The first thing that showed up when I logged into Embarkvet.com was the big red flag that showed Jersey was at risk for a genetic health condition.
As you can see in the picture, Jersey was flagged for being at risk for or intervertebral disc disease.
This condition, commonly known as IVDD, would have been alarming under normal circumstances. IVDD causes back and spinal cord issues in dogs, and many dogs with IVDD end up with paralysis.
As it turns out, my dog was already paralyzed for a completely different reason, so that risk didn’t affect her.
Aside from that, I was super relieved that no other health issues were identified in Jersey’s DNA.
Genetic diversity and inbreeding results
I wasn’t surprised to see that Jersey had a 8% coefficient of inbreeding. EmbarkVet provided a graph that showed that number was about average for small poodles, and just a bit lower than the average across all purebred dogs.
According to multiple sources, a dog’s coefficient of inbreeding should be 10% or less, so I feel ok about Jersey’s 8%.
At the same time, Jersey has been spayed since the day she came home to me. She has no offspring and no chance of breeding, so her genetic diversity was just informative for me.
Embark Vet provided some interesting, extra-detailed information about my dog’s genetic diversity. It actually broke down the information by individual chromosome and showed which chromosomes were most impacted by inbreeding.
Again, it’s not super relevant to our circumstances, but I do find the information interesting.
I can also see how that chromosomal information could be super helpful for dog breeders to ensure they’re being responsible in how they mate their dogs.
Dog breed results from the DNA test
Im pleased to share that Jersey’s DNA test revealed that she is, indeed, 100% poodle.
I’m also a bit surprised. I’ve been hearing more and more stories of dog owners who learned that breeds revealed in DNA tests were not what they were told when they got their dog.
While I’m happy Jersey’s papers got her breed right, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had other breeds in her genetic makeup.
Genetic traits in DNA test results
Jersey’s results also revealed the individual aspects of her DNA that affected her appearance and size.
The EmbarkVet test revealed a variety of individual genes and how they influence different traits. I think this is fascinating – there’s so much to learn here!
Like the POMC gene influences eating behavior. Jersey’s test showed her as an NN. An NN means she’s not as food-motivated and she’s less prone to obesity than dogs with other results.
There are so many genetic traits and results identified in the test that I actually haven’t had a chance to review all of them individually.
I’m so interested to dive into that information and find out more about all sorts of possible reasons for Jersey’s different characteristics.
Finding my dog’s relatives from a dog DNA test
I have to say, the most fun aspect of the Embark Vet DNA test is the dog relative finder.
It turns out that Jersey has plenty of first cousins all around the world. Of course, her family only grows when we started looking at second cousins and beyond!
There’s a limited amount of information provided for each related dog, but Embark does provide a messaging system so you can get in contact with your dog’s relatives’ owners, if you want to do that.
How I feel about testing my dog’s DNA
I went into giving Jersey a canine DNA test with feelings of curiosity. She is, after all, fourteen years old. Any potential bad news would likely just be informational at this point.
While I want Jersey to live forever, the reality is that fourteen years is a full life for a dog. I’d love to have a few more good years with her, but, at this point, even her vet says she hopes Jersey will continue to be “remarkably lucky.”
EmbarkVet DNA test review: final thoughts
All in all, I’m so satisfied with everything about the Embark Vet DNA test experience. They made it super simple to collect the DNA sample and send it in, and the results were outstanding.
I can’t believe how much information I received about my little dog, and I’m excited to keep looking at it and understanding more about her!
Interested in learning so much about your own dog’s breed, health, relatives and more? Get your own dog DNA test kit today!