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 numerous health benefits, even if they’re not an official therapy dog. They 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.)
In fact, some historians don’t consider their family tree complete without their dogs. 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 canine companions, resulting in a booming pet industry. Our passion for all things canine has resulted in everything from Take Your Dog to Work day (which falls on the Friday after Father’s Day, if you want to mark your calendar) to doggie DNA testing.
Your dog’s DNA tests
As the popularity in genetic testing for humans grows, the desire to test our pet’s DNA is also increasing. While many people are skeptical of the benefits, there are some valid reasons to look into it – even if you have no plans on adding them to your online tree.
First, dog DNA testing offers a breakdown of the various types of breeds by percentage. Co-ops and rental companies may require dog DNA testing to determine whether your pup will be accepted. More shelters are using DNA test results to also inform prospective pet owners when placing a dog in their forever home. Depending on the dog breed, the DNA kits can help determine a dog’s eventual size, whether they will be good around kids and what potential health issues a dog might face.
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 concerns about identification and parentage. This is more familiar ground for genetic genealogists. The tests of a dam, sire and pups can confirm lineage with a high degree of accuracy for fancy breeds of dogs.
Are the tests worth it?
Unless you’re testing your dog as part of the American Kennel Club, chances are you are not going to test to learn a dog’s lineage. Because most family pets come from shelters and placement programs, tracing your pup’s family tree is probably not a priority. The cost is a factor, too. Add in the hefty cost, and most families are content to leave sleeping dogs lie when it comes to their canine companion’s genetic makeup.
However, the benefits of determining whether a prospective dog will be a good fit may be worth the price. After all, dog DNA testing can lead to a 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.
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