a chihuahua with a grey face.

We love all chihuahuas—including the ones who just have a drop of chihuahua in them. If you got your pet from a shelter and he’s got a bit of scruffy hair, a unique head shape, or has a floppy ear, you may wonder how much chihuahua is actually in him. Now, there’s a way to find out! The new world of DNA testing for dogs has made finding out possible.

DNA tests use saliva from your dog to determine their DNA. You get this by gently swabbing the inside of your dog’s cheek for 30 to 60 seconds, putting the swab in a tube, and sending it to the company’s lab. All over the counter tests require these saliva swabs, but some have more steps than others. For example, the popular DNA testing company Embark has more steps than the Wisdom Panel tests do. The extra steps are designed to reduce cross contamination, but if you’re worried about messing it up Wisdom Panel is probably a smoother experience.

A World of Dog Breeds

Although all dog breeds are dogs, they have unique genetic markers that make them one breed or another. Lab analysts take your dog’s DNA and run them through an algorithm that compares your dog’s DNA against dogs of known pedigree. This is actually how we know that the Chihuahua descends from a more ancient dog breed, the Techichi.

Some tests can even take this a step farther and check your dog’s DNA for vulnerability to disease. If you know your dog is prone to heart problems for example, you can take steps to keep your dog’s heart healthy before symptoms start showing. Once again, Wisdom panel and Embark are both top tier for this feature, with Embark going a bit more in-depth on health problems. They even have an option to send this information to your vet.

Most people view dogs as family these days, so finding out what genetic vulnerabilities they have can go a long way to helping you prevent a tragedy later in life. In chihuahuas, vulnerabilities in their knees, heart and eyes would be of particular interest to their owners, as those are the most common genetic disorders known in the breed.

Embark Dog DNA Testing kit

Which DNA Test is Most Accurate?

Since DNA tests work by looking for similar genetic markers, the more markers they look for, the more reliable the test will be. Based on a test conducted by CBC, we think Wisdom Panel and Embark are probably the most reliable.

We highly recommend you read the article yourself, but in a nutshell, they tested 2 mixed breeds, one known purebred Great Dane with proven lineage, and a human on these DNA tests. If you test a human on a dog DNA test, it should kick back an error, so they shouldn’t get anything back.

Wisdom Panel and Embark both kicked back errors on the humans, but the two others, DNA My Dog and Accu-Metrics, gave various dog answers for human DNA.

For the purebred Great Dane, Embark and Wisdom Panel once again kicked back 100% Great Dane, as expected. DNA My Dog suggested the dog had a significant amount of Malinois in it, while Accu-Metrics said…100% Chihuahua.

That being said, the mixed breed responses weren’t quite as expected either, so we decided to dig a little bit deeper.

Take It With a Grain of Salt

After looking at hundreds of reviews from other people, it seems that Embark and Wisdom Panel will more or less tell you the major breeds of your dog—but they’ll probably have a few wildcards too. Your best bet is to use one of these panels, and then decide for yourself which breeds you think your dog measures up to the most.

Wisdom panel is definitely cheaper, but Embark seems to go into more detail about breeds and health conditions your dog might be affected by.

All in all, we think both Wisdom Panel and Embark are fine tests, and either one of them will work if you are concerned about breed or curious about any health problems they may have. If you need 100% accuracy however, you’ll probably want to wait a few years for technology to advance.

You can get Wisdom Panel off of Chewy.com here, or Amazon here. Embark is also available on Chewy and Amazon.

If you decide to use these tests, please consider using our links above, as we will get a small commission for you doing so. This helps us buy treats and toys for our doggos. We’d also love to hear from you if you have used these tests in the past. What did you think of them? Were they accurate?

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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