Nearly two-thirds of Americans today have pets as part of the family. As far as the history of family pets goes, dogs have been considered our best friends the longest, thanks in large part to their hunting abilities. Dogs offer health benefits and can range from being a cuddly lump on the couch to service dogs that work hard to assist with tasks and daily activities. (Read more about the history of pets in The Truth About Cats and Dogs.)
Some historians don’t consider their family tree complete without their dogs, and perhaps that’s not so surprising considering that more Americans in their 30s have dogs than children (three-fourths have dogs, just over half have babies). We’re spending more money than ever on our animals, resulting in a booming pet industry and our passion for all things canine has resulted in Take Your Dog to Work day, which falls on the Friday after Father’s Day.
Testing your dog’s DNA
A significant part of that growing pet industry: DNA testing. As the popularity in genetic testing for humans grows, the desire to test our pet’s DNA is also increasing.
Another use of dog DNA testing comes from registering purebreds with the American Kennel Club. In their DNA Profile Program, owners and breeders can use the test results to eliminate questions or concerns about identification and parentage. This is more familiar ground for genetic genealogists and family historians who use DNA to help find ancestors in our family tree. The tests of a dam, sire and pups can confirm lineage with a high degree of accuracy for fancy breeds of dogs.
Unless you’re testing your dog as part of the American Kennel Club, though, chances are you are not going to test to learn a dog’s lineage. Because most of our family pets come from shelters and placement programs, tracing the family tree of our pups is not really a priority, but the benefits of determining whether a prospective dog will be a good fit to adopt into your family can reap plenty of rewards, leading to greater understanding of some of your pooch’s instincts, behavior, and physical and emotional needs.
Thinking about taking the plunge into dog DNA testing? Canine Journal provides a breakdown and review of three of the most popular Dog DNA testing companies.