Find My Pet DNA claims that by submitting a simple cheek swab sample, you can “unlock your dog’s unique canine heritage.” Put simply, this means discovering the breeds that have bred down the generations to produce your unique dog and its DNA.
Besides being fun, discovering your dog’s breed mix might be important in understanding its appearance, behavior, and the genetically-determined diseases it may suffer from. Find My Pet DNA does what it says, in a sense, but to a more basic level than many competitor companies, such as Wisdom Panel and Embark.
If you’ve ever had your own DNA tested by a company like AncestryDNA or 23andMe, you’ll have some idea of what to expect:
In the same way that human DNA testing companies can tell you about your ethnicity and heritage, so can vendors like Find My Pet DNA tell you about your dog’s descent and breed mix. However, it can’t confirm that your dog is purebred because (according to the company) no DNA test can. This is because the dog’s dad or mom might be a mixed breed, but your dog only inherited one of the breeds.
Just as human DNA testing companies can tell you about your personal physical and psychological traits, Find My Pet DNA says that it can determine your dog’s likely behavioral characteristics from its DNA. In practice, you have to deduce this information from the identified breeds.
Like both AncestryDNA and 23andMe (for humans), Find My Pet DNA’s website claims it can deduce your dog’s predispositions to diseases. However, you have to make this deduction yourself – or with your vet – from the determined breed mix.
Helping Your Dog to Take the Test
Although this is all about your dog, the lack of opposable thumbs (and a few other things) means it can’t take the test itself. So, you’ll have to help out.
Helping your dog to take the test is a simple matter of rubbing the inside of its cheek with the supplied buccal swab, or with the backup swab if your dog destroys the first one. Alternatively, you can pay a small additional fee so that your veterinarian can send in a blood sample instead, which would mean paying a visit to your vet (and probably paying your vet, too).
As well as sending the swab sample to Find My Pet DNA’s lab, you also have to register your test on one of the company’s web pages, which is where you can check the test status. According to the website, you can expect to wait two weeks to receive your results.
5 Standout Features of Find My Pet DNA
While we try to identify five standout features for each of the DNA test kit companies we review, it wasn’t easy in this case. Find My Pet DNA provides a basic dog breed determination service, but few things about it actually “stand out” apart from the following (and each one comes with caveats).
Easy-to-Use Dog Swab DNA Collection Kit
The dog swab DNA collection kit is undoubtedly easy to use compared with some other DNA collection kits that expect you to collect blood or use more invasive nasopharyngeal swabs. But I’ve read some reports of the cheaply-made cheek swabs breaking if your dog doesn’t cooperate. This may be why the test kit includes two swabs, and you can contact the company to request more.
Custom Photo Certificate
Some customers will be pleased to be able to upload a photo to personalize the dog breed determination certificate. They may be less pleased with the level of detail on this certificate, which only includes banded levels of breed DNA rather than exact percentages. However, this approach is adopted by several other dog DNA testing companies.
Database of Validated Breeds
In Find My Pet DNA’s frequently asked questions, it boasts about a database of American Kennel Club (AKC) validated breeds, against which your dog’s DNA is compared to determine its breed mix. This might not be quite as good as it sounds since only the most common North American breeds are included (but notably no Pit Bull) and you can’t use a breed identification test to register your dog with a dog club such as the AKC, Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), or United Kennel Club (UKC). In comparison, Embark analyzes over 250 different breeds, and Wisdom Panel has a database of more than 350 breeds, types, and varieties.
Discover Wolf, Fox, and Coyote DNA
With a week’s extra processing time, you can opt to have your dog tested for the presence of wolf, fox, or coyote DNA via a supplemental test that uses the same submitted sample. This may be important because in some US states it’s prohibited to keep a dog hybrid pet, and a wolf-dog hybrid must be housed in the same way as a purebred wolf regardless of the amount of wolf DNA it has.
Just as physical devices need to be periodically calibrated to ensure they’re still accurate, laboratory processes need to be tested against a known quantity to ensure they’re still valid. To confirm that its test continues to perform properly, Find My Pet DNA runs a number of “known” control dogs every day to ensure that its lab returns the right results. If any of these control tests return unexpected results, all customer samples from the same processing run are re-tested.
Underwhelming (and Possibly Unreliable)
In terms of results, Find My Pet’s website promises a lot but appears to deliver little. As advertised, the custom photo certificate indicates the contributions of various breeds to your dog’s DNA. However, the other advertised features – such as determination of your dog’s genetic disease predispositions and physical/behavioral traits – appear to be only by deduction from the identified breeds.
The results come in the form of a static PDF sent to your email address, rather than via the kind of interactive website provided by Embark or Wisdom Panel. This is predominantly composed of the “Custom photo certificate of your dog’s DNA composition that you can use as a handy reference for your dog’s unique breed.”
The certificate tells you that your dog has undergone a certified breed analysis, and a unique lab reference is included along with the date of analysis.
The important information is the “level” of each breed detected within your dog’s DNA. For example, as per the certificate shown above, your dog might be Level 2 Beagle, Level 4 Border Collie, and Level 4 Dalmation. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Level 1: Chances are, your dog’s parents were purebred. More than 75% of your dog’s DNA is of a single breed.
- Level 2: One of your dog’s parents was likely purebred. Between 37% and 74% of your dog’s DNA is of a single breed.
- Level 3: Each breed listed represents between 20% and 36% of your dog’s DNA, most likely from your dog’s grandparents.
- Level 4: These breeds represent between 10% and 19% of your dog’s DNA, most likely from your dog’s great-grandparents.
- Level 5: These breeds only reflect less than 9% of your dog’s DNA.
However, judging from customer complaints, the breed determinations aren’t always accurate.
You can upload a photo of your dog to Find My Pet DNA’s website – by logging in with your unique customer ID – if you want it to be included in the certificate.
Descent and Breed Mix
Despite the website suggesting that you can learn about “your dog’s unique ancestry and canine heritage,” there is no illustrative ancestry tree (as far as I can see) of the kind you get from some other testing companies such as Viaguard.
The website also states that you can learn more about “your dog’s unique personality and character,” however, it appears that you have to deduce this information from the identified breed mix. For example, if your dog is predominantly German Shepherd then it is likely to be easy to train. Other companies, such as Embark, report on your dog’s genes specifically.
When it comes to “predisposition to disease and other health-related concerns,” you’ll also need to deduce this information from the identified breed mix. For example, your predominantly German Shorthaired Pointer may be prone to epilepsy, so you should discuss this possibility with your vet. In comparison, Wisdom Panel screens your dog for 150+ health conditions that cover 16 major body systems.
Appropriately Priced for Basic Results
For the basic breed determination certificate you get, the test appears to be appropriately priced, but only just. It’s by no means good value compared with many competitor tests such as those available from Embark or Wisdom Panel.
These competitor companies’ tests provide additional features – such as many more identified breeds, breed family trees, and even matching relatives – for not much more money.
Good FAQs, but Silent on Social Media and by Form Submission
For self-support, Find My Pet DNA provides a pretty comprehensive list of frequently asked questions, a small selection of which are shown here:
This company also has a social media presence on Facebook but it hasn’t posted anything since October 2018. Someone asked a question in the Community section of the Facebook page in January 2019, which went unanswered, so I wasn’t optimistic about summoning one-to-one support. Nevertheless, I submitted a question via the company’s contact page on its website:
No response was forthcoming, so I sent an email a few days later:
Again, I received no response.
It’s a Basic Test for Breed Determination
Find My Pet DNA will find the breeds represented within your pet’s DNA, providing it’s a dog. This breed determination is basic because it only assigns the contributing breeds to wide probability percentage bands according to whether the DNA likely came from a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent. It won’t tell you if your pup is purebred.
One of the main disappointments for me was that the website promises information regarding behavioral traits and disease predispositions, which don’t appear to be fulfilled. Rival Embark, for example, reports on 175+ health conditions, and closer competitor Viaguard at least presents you with generic health information for the breeds that are present within your dog’s DNA. With Find My Pet DNA, it looks like you have to do all the legwork yourself – or with your vet – from the simple percentage breakdown of breeds.
Does Find My Pet DNA only offer dog DNA tests?
Despite the more generic name “Find My Pet DNA,” this company only offers dog DNA tests, so it might be better named “Find My Dog DNA.” Currently, there is no information on their website about expanding to other animals, like cats, birds, or horses.
Which offers more information, Find My Pet DNA, Embark, or Wisdom Panel?
Compared with its competitors, Find My Pet DNA is somewhat expensive for what you get. For example, Wisdom Panel presents results via an interactive website rather than as a static PDF, and Embark does the same as well as sending notifications when similar dogs to yours are added to its database.
Wisdom Panel, and particularly Embark, also provide genetic traits and disease predisposition information that is specific to your dog rather than being for the identified breed(s) in general.
What information does Find My Pet DNA tests provide?
Clarification wasn’t forthcoming, but all the evidence suggests that Find My Pet DNA only determines your dog’s breed mix. If you want to know your dog’s likely genetic disease predispositions, it looks like you have to deduce this information from genetic disease predispositions of the breeds represented in your dog’s DNA and discuss this with your vet.