DNA Genetic Testing
What is DNA Testing for Dogs?
DNA testing is a rather new option (for humans and canines). In 2007, when the first dog DNA tests kits hit the market, many breeders, veterinarians and dog enthusiasts were excited. While some good has come from Dog DNA testing, there have also been a number of significant disappointments as we have realized their limitations.
What is DNA testing? You might remember from Junior High biology that DNA is “code” for deoxyribonucleic acid.
DNA is essentially a nucleotide sequence. Every living organism possesses DNA that functions as a one-of-a-kind blueprint with information about that human, plant, bacteria, cat, bird, or dog.
For our discussion, individual genes are one of the most important aspects of DNA. Specific Genes make up a dog’s genetic code. These genes can be coded for individual proteins which determine the building and reproduction of cells in a dog.
A human’s DNA is made up of 23 chromosome pairs (46 total chromosomes) with a total of about 3 billion DNA base pairs.
Canine DNA has similarities to human DNA, but also significant differences. A typical dog has 20,000 to 25,000 genes which are positioned along 78 total chromosomes. A dog’s DNA has about 2.5 billion nucleotides. Dog DNA testing focuses on a tiny percentage of those.
DNA’s four letters (aka bases) are A, T, C, G: adenines (A) pairs with thymines (T), cytosines (C) with guanines (G)
For human DNA, the possible alphanumeric combination is 3.2 billion letters. Thus, each human has a unique DNA. In a similar way, a full sequence mapping of a dog’s DNA (first done by MIT researchers on Tasha the female boxer in 2005) gives a blueprint of that particular dog.
When Should Dog DNA Testing Be Done?
DNA testing will be more accurate if it is done after a dog is at least two years old. Puppy traits are constantly changing. For instance a Poodle’s coat is typically not very curly as a puppy, but it continues to get curlier as the puppy ages. An early test is less likely to detect the curly coat if it has not yet manifested.
Wisdom Panel (one of the more popular K9 DNA tests), says on their website, “Note that it can be very difficult to observe breed traits in puppies, because they are growing and developing rapidly. Most dogs will not achieve their final mature physical traits until they are at least one to two years of age.”
Dog DNA Testing Process
If you want to have your dog’s DNA tested, the typical process would look like this:
- Buy a DNA test packet online or from your vet. Some of the most popular DNA test kits are Embark, Wisdom Panel, PetConfirm, PawPrint Genetics and DNA My Dog, but there are numerous other options.
- Collect the DNA sample. In the past this was done through a blood draw (by your veterinarian), but now the DNA is most often collected with a cheek swab.
- Mail the DNA sample to the makers of the test kit.
- At the Lab, your DNA test provider (Embark, PetConfirm, etc) should extract DNA from your dog’s cells in the sample swab (or blood draw) that you sent them.
- DNA markers will be evaluated (depending on the test used, it will range from dozens to hundreds of markers that are evaluated).
- Certain markers are analyzed (A, T, C, G). These markers give a key to your dog’s genetic code. Only a small percentage of your dog’s total markers will be analyzed (dozens or hundreds); Remember for humans there is a possible combination of 3.2 billion letters. For $85 to $200, it is not realistic to expect a full DNA mapping of your dog. The DNA test kit, will test a very small percentage of your dog’s overall DNA.
- Your dog’s markers (eye color, coat curl, ear size) are compared with markers collected from registered purebreds in the past. The larger the collection from registered purebreds, the more accurate the comparison will be.
- Most DNA testing services will consider multiple potential family trees. In other words, your dog has specific characteristics, and the DNA testing service is comparing other dogs (of known ancestry) which have similar characteristics. The computer can present dozens of different models of your dog’s possible ancestors.
- The computer looks at these dozens of possibilities and scores which one it thinks it’s the most likely combination for your dog. This gives you a range of potential ancestors for your dogs, and essentially the DNA testers present you with their “best guess” as to what your dog’s hereditary looks like. It is important to remember that this is merely a best guess and far from 100% accurate, as the DNA testers are quick to acknowledge.
- This “best guess” can vary between litter mates, and certainly between different DNA testers. It’s very helpful for a Heinz 57 dog to have some idea of what your dog’s genetic markers point to for possible ancestry.
Benefits of Canine DNA Testing
Canine DNA testing has some huge potential benefits.
- Determining Parentage of an Individual Puppy. Most breeders are very familiar with the AKC’s DNA Parentage Evaluation Service. It is possible for more than one male to breed with a female, and the breeder may question which male is the dad of a particular puppy. We have friends who breed purebred Labrador Retrievers and found themselves in this exact predicament. If the genetic factors tested match the DNA of one father, better than the other, it becomes clear which Labrador was the father of the litter. AKC’s DNA Parentage Evaluation is a great use of DNA testing.
- Linking an individual dog with its pet waste. There are currently efforts to identify which dog’s poop was left by an less-than-thoughtful dog owner going for a walk (PooPrints is the best example of this). In the same way that a genetic pattern of human DNA (blood, hair, skin cells) can often be used to match a murderer to the scene of the crime, a dog’s waste matter can be used to accurately match with the dog it came from.
- Helping Breeders know what Puppies a Dog Will Produce. DNA tests are very helpful in letting a breeder know if a poodle carries the furnishing gene, whether a dog can produce the phantom markings in a puppy, the likelihood of certain coat colorings, etc.
- Recognizing Potential Diseases. As researchers collect DNA information about genetic tendencies toward certain diseases, a DNA test can be helpful in knowing whether your dog is pre-disposed to a certain problem.
- Giving the Best Guess of Potential Breed Origin to Someone who Adopts from the Humane Society. For decades, families who have adopted a rescue pup of completely unknown origin, have asked friends and veterinarians for their best guess as to what breeds make up the dog. DNA testing gives a more scientific means of arriving at a best guess, but the results are far from perfect (see below).
Problems with Dog DNA Genetic Testing
Widely Varying Results of Dog DNA Tests
You can read humorous stories online about numerous people have sent saliva to multiple DNA testing groups and received widely varied results. Even the companies that do the DNA testing point out that they’re not entirely accurate, but can give you a general idea of your dog’s ancestry.
That’s why purebred dogs (AKC registered) often will test with some “mixed breed” in them, and why litter mates will often test differently. Routinely dogs will get back 3 different sets results when sent to 3 different DNA testing groups. Also many mixed breeds of known ancestry (AKC papers on parents) come back from the tests as something different. In other words the DNA tests usually get you in a close ballpark (“best guess”), but are far from 100% accurate.
The tests themselves point out that pups within a litter can vary. For instance, within a litter of f1b Goldendoodles (75% poodle and 25% Golden Retriever), we could test one of the much curlier siblings, and that sibling would be more likely to show the 75% poodle ancestry; whereas a less curly f1b Goldendoodle pup, might display less of its Poodle heritage in the DNA test.
Although DNA tests seem to be improving, multiple DNA tests have been shown repeatedly to be unreliable to arrive at exact ancestry. Consumers who think that DNA tests are an exact science do not understand their true nature.
For example, the Wisdom Panel test acknowledges that purebred registered AKC dogs, may well show up with other things listed:
They say “the Wisdom Panel Canine DNA tests are not intended to refute” known ancestry and that “Because there is only one purebred tree model in the 11 considered, the statistical process inherently favors mixed ancestry.” The inherent bias toward multiple breeds is helpful to someone who adopts a puppy from the Humane Society and wants to find out every possible breed their puppy might contain. Particularly if some breeds that may (or may not) be present or more prone to specific health issues.
Indisputably Wrong Results
A quick internet search will bring up examples of dog DNA tests that were so wrong, they’re laughable. People have sent the DNA from the same dog to the same testing center at different times and received back different results (https://news.vin.com/vinnews.aspx?articleId=23206). A veterinary group took a Purebred registered Poodle and submitted it to DNA testing groups as a Purebred, and the results came back that this was a purebred Poodle. When they submitted the same DNA to the same groups, but submitted the DNA as a mixed breed (selected that option), they were told that the exact same dog contained several other breeds in addition to standard Poodle. Supposedly, their AKC purebred Poodle was also part Labrador retriever, Pembroke Welsh corgi, Shih Tzu, Tibetan spaniel and Miniature Poodle.
On a message board of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), an online community for the profession, veterinarians reported a variety of results in friends, clients’ and their own dogs. Some were plausible and some were wacky.
On the wacky side was an 80-pound dog whose mother was known to be a Labrador retriever that tested as mostly miniature poodle plus Yorkshire terrier.
There was a pedigreed dachshund who turned up as predominantly Siberian husky, with a dash of dachshund and Ibizan hound.
There was a dog that looked classically Chihuahua that came back as “an extremely complex mixed-breed dog … (with) distant traces of Afghan hound, Cavalier King Charles spaniel and toy fox terrier.”
From Online Article: “Dog breed genetic tests put to the test: Science is solid but results aren’t precise”
Dog DNA Tests Often Appear Different for Sibling Dogs
On their website Wisdom Panel addresses the question of why Siblings so often test different (it shows a completely different ancestry for two pups from the same parents).
Wisdom Panel writes, “Another factor involved in litter genetics is which exact segments of DNA each puppy inherited. While each parent is responsible for passing down 50% of their genetic makeup to a puppy, the actual composition of that genetic contribution varies between siblings. This is because of the random nature in which genes are passed down and a process known as genetic recombination. As we can see, in many litters, particularly those of mixed-breed dogs with a number of ancestral breeds, puppies can show a wide variation in their physical traits like coat color or length, leg length, and even head and ear shape and size. All this variation tells us that each puppy really is truly, genetically unique!”
Those familiar with genetic testing should not be surprised the canine siblings often test different as the same thing happens with humans. Human siblings with identical biological parents often find that a DNA tests tells them they are from different genetic backgrounds. Even DNA tested twins can be told they’re different percentages of various nationalities.
Elizabeth Warren’s attempt to prove that she had some Indian blood became a national news story and also showed the inability of DNA tests to perfectly determine human nationality in a satisfactory way.
For an interesting study of two human siblings that had very different results, see the following article, which says only identical twins would have the same results for their ancestry:https://homedna.com/blog/why-can-siblings-have-different-ancestry-results
Dog DNA Breed Testing is a Best Guess
One veterinary research firm took mixed breed dogs of known origin from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. They sent DNA samples of these dogs (of undisputed origin) to Wisdom Panel and Canine Heritage.
For instance one of the dogs (Salem) was “exactly 68.4 percent beagle, 14.4 percent German shepherd, 9.4 percent giant schnauzer and 7.8 percent basset.” The tests that came back were disappointing. Wisdom Panel was the most accurate, even though it was still quite wrong.
Wisdom Panel found the beagle in Salem, along with a touch of German shepherd. But it very wrongly detected Ibizan hound in Salem’s background. This made the researcher (who owned Salem) chuckle as it was clearly an incorrect finding. None of Salem’s ancestors were anywhere close to an Ibizan Hound.
The researchers helpfully concluded, “Salem’s result demonstrates that such charts [from Wisdeom Panel] should not be accepted as a precise family tree but merely a guideline when dealing with complex mixes. The chart shows one of her parents as purebred beagle. Casal said Salem’s maternal grandmother was a purebred beagle but not her parents.”
Wisdom Panel had incorrect findings, but they were in the ballpark. The Canine Heritage test was far worse, not even recognizing the Beagle. The Canine Heritage test could not find any primary breeds. It named German Shepherd as a secondary breed, and Chesapeake Bay retriever as “in the mix.”
The important thing to remember is that Dog DNA Breed Testing is a best guess as to what dog ancestors may have been.
If you are still interested in further research, please read the articles below to read about mixed results in DNA testing, as a reminder that this is a developing science that is still just a best guess.
Potential Dangers of Dog DNA Testing
Typically veterinarians are not genetic experts, and the DNA tests can push them to make decisions about individual dogs without factual results to back it up. A vet going on a widely divergent “best guess” from someone’s DNA kit, might feel pressured to put a dog down even when he/she sees no specific physical reason to do so.
On November 12, 2018, In the Science section of The Atlantic, Sarah Zhang takes a hard look at problems with DNA testing (“What Vets Think of 23andMe for Dogs”). For example, she writes,
Several dog owners told me their vets were curious when they brought in a DNA report for their dog. When I reached out to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and several state veterinary associations though, most either did not respond or responded to say direct-to-consumer DNA tests weren’t on their radar. Meanwhile, the veterinarians and canine geneticists who did want to talk were largely skeptical.
“Veterinarians, we’re not really educated in clinical genetics, because it’s a brand-new field,” says Lisa Moses, a veterinarian in Boston. Moses was especially concerned about the health-risk information. Doctors can refer human patients to genetic counselors, she points out, but veterinarians don’t have genetic counselors on call for dogs. Moses co-authored a comment inNature earlier this year, in which she recounted the story of a 13-year-old dog that was losing her ability to walk. Her owners decided to buy a $65 direct-to-consumer test, which showed a mutation linked to a neural disease called degenerative myelopathy (DM). Convinced that she would slowly die of the disease, her owners put her to sleep.
But the mutation for DM is notoriously hard to interpret. Kari Ekenstedt, a professor of anatomy and genetics at Purdue University, calls it the “ever controversial DM mutation.” The problem, she says, is that not having such a mutation is a good sign a dog does not have DM, but having a mutation does not guarantee the dog has the disease. It’s possible the dog Moses wrote about had an entirely treatable spinal disorder and did not need to be put down.
The episode prompted Moses to take a closer look at the pet-DNA industry, and she came away even less certain of how to interpret the results. While the Food and Drug Administration regulates 23andMe, no one is looking at pet-DNA tests. Moses says she had been taking the DNA tests at face value, and she began to wonder if she had caused her patients too much worry by doing so. “I didn’t understand how iffy, how little there was for me to really take stock of these tests,” she said. Carrie Waters, a veterinarian in Dallas, echoed the sentiment. “There’s a number of labs doing it, but I’m not totally convinced there’s the best quality,” she said.
Statement from Wisdom Panel
Letter to Wisdom Panel about Incorrect DNA Results
From: Crockett, Nathan
Sent: 7/10/2019 4:44 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Very frustrated with Wisdom Panel
Dear Wisdom Panel:
In the past, I’ve believed that you were one of the best DNA tests, but it is becoming more and more difficult to recommend you to anyone who gets a pup from us. I think you need to be more up front with those who purchase the Wisdom Panel test that it is the Best Guess as to a dog’s heritage and that it is not fool proof.
Most recently a family got a mini Goldendoodle from our home-raised network (Crockett Doodles). Their female mini Goldendoodle (Poppy) was the offspring of a purebred registered mini Poodle (Rudy) and a purebred registered Golden Retriever (Heather).
Because we artificially inseminated, and Heather was not around other dogs, we can know for 100% who the parents were.
As is very typical in crossbreeds (especially first generations), some pups got more of the Golden Retriever and others received more of the mini Poodle. For instance some pups had a far curlier coat–or were larger or smaller.
Poppy received far more of the Golden Retriever’s characteristics. She sheds like a Golden and has an incredibly friendly attitude like a Golden. Basically Poppy’s adoptive parents told me that she is like a mini Golden Retriever (she got her size from her mini Poodle dad).
Some of her litter mates received more of the mini Poodle traits and would undoubtedly test 50% or higher mini Poodle. I recognize that in your FAQ section of your website you acknowledge that DNA tests often differ between siblings, should not contradict known heritage, etc. However the test results do not make this nearly clear enough and are VERY misleading to families who have not thoroughly studied genetics.
In this case, I thought your DNA tests were quite accurate (considering they test for 400 breeds). They identified 50% Golden Retriever (exactly right). But for the other parent, they predicted part mini Poodle (correct) part Cavalier, part Cocker (both incorrect).
This makes sense to me, because basically Poppy looks to me, like she received about 85 % of the Golden Retriever traits and 15 % of the mini Poodle traits. However, based on her smaller size, I can see where the test would recognize that she’s not nearly big enough to be 85 % Golden Retriever, so in my mind the Cocker / Cavalier guess makes sense.
What is extremely bothersome to me is that your test results (the family kindly sent them to me) are incredibly misleading in making it sound like this is a perfect 100% Science, actually making the adoptive family question the known factors. We know that the dad was a registered mini Poodle and the mom a registered Golden Retriever. We do not have a single mini Poodle / Cocker / Cavalier male in our network–anywhere, so clearly this is not correct. But your test presented it as if it was perfect Science. This is absolutely deceptive advertising.
You’re probably aware that the human DNA testers are embattled with class action lawsuits. I imagine that pet DNA testers will not be far behind, unless you more clearly specify that this is your best guess and should not be used to contradict known realities.
For instance Poppy’s family initially wanted a full refund, since their pup did not test 50% Golden Retriever and 50% mini Poodle. I talked to them on the phone and they’re very reasonable, and as they study it more and think through the realities (just because a mom is a Golden Retriever and a dad is the mini Poodle, does not mean the pup will get 50% of one parent and 50% of the other), they’re understanding it better.
Again, for what it does (narrow down the top possibilities out of 400 breeds), the Wisdom Panel is remarkable. But to present it as something far more than it actually is becomes misleading to your customers and increasingly frustrating to reputable breeders.
Can you please send me something in writing acknowledging that your test is not 100% accurate, and that it should not be used to try to contradict known results of a puppy of known heritage?
Thank you; I’m not trying to come across as angry, I’m just frustrated that the marketing of your product seems to assume a level of certainty that is not accurate.
Examples of recent lawsuits over wrong genetic testing:
Wisdom Panel’s Helpful Response
I was very appreciative of the response from Wisdom Panel which acknowledged my concerns. I just wish the info given to their customers made this more clear from the start. They attached the PDF below to the following email.
From: Wisdom Health <[email protected]>
Sent: 7/12/2019 12:48 PM
To: Crockett, Nathan
Subject: Very frustrated with Wisdom Panel
Thank you for reaching out; we are sorry to hear that you are having issues concerning results that we may have provided. We do our best to be clear regarding what the Wisdom Panel Canine Breed tests are intended for; specifically posting several knowledge articles on this subject, as well as accuracy, and how the testing works on our help site (I have included some of them below), on the product description pages for our secondary online retailers, and within the online version of the report.
We caution our customers that visual identification using physical and behavior traits is often incorrect (studies have shown that even dog experts are incorrect about 75% of the time). When two dogs of the same breed are bred together there are a limited amount of genetic possibilities, and you can be reasonably certain of what the resulting puppies will look like. However when you begin to mix breeds together, even F1 crosses, additional genetic possibilities are opened up. The physical traits that are expressed by these dogs can often mimic those of other breeds, or make them look different than expected based on their ancestry. However physical appearance does not alter genetic breed ancestry.
The exact breed ancestry of puppies in the same litter depends on several factors. Each puppy in a litter is created by a unique egg and sperm, much like fraternal twins. Identical twins have not been shown to occur in dogs at this time. Because of this, we have found that average full siblings share approximately 2/3 of their tested DNA signature, that is, when they have the same mother and father. Because of the unique reproductive cycle of the female dog, multiple sires for the same litter are common. If a litter was sired by more than one male, each puppy could have a different father, thus making them half-siblings. The genetic relatedness of half-siblings is even lower, and can produce very different breed ancestry results.
Another factor involved in litter genetics is which exact pieces of DNA each puppy inherited. While each parent is responsible for passing down half of a puppy’s genetic makeup, the actual composition of that genetic contribution varies between siblings, and is also influenced by the diversity of the parents. The semi-random nature by which genes are passed down is caused by the process known as genetic recombination. In genetic recombination, prior to production of sperm and ova, the parent’s chromosome pairs swap pieces of DNA, then divide in half, resulting in a unique combination of DNA for each ova and sperm. This process happens with each litter, producing a tremendous amount of genetic “shuffling” over even a few short generations. On average, through the DNA of their parents, puppies receive about 25% of their total genetic makeup from each of their grandparents, and 12.5% from each of their great-grandparents. However, this is an average across many individuals, as each individual often receives more or less tested DNA markers from a particular ancestor than its littermate. Because of genetic factors, siblings can sometimes have differences in the breeds identified (or placement of the breeds) in their family trees due to differing actual percentages inherited from their grandparents and beyond. Essentially, each puppy received 50% of its DNA from their Dam and 50% from their Sire, however they will likely not inherit the same 50% as their siblings from either parent.
The following website also has a short article discussing genetics of littermates: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201108/why-are-some-litter-pups-uniform-in-appearance-while-others-are-mismatched
I have attached a copy of a statement that you are welcome to share with your customers, as well as the below links. Our goal is not only to provide the most accurate and robust information available to each of our customers, but also to make sure that this information is understood. If you have any further questions regarding how the testing works, or if your customers would like to discuss their results, we encourage you to contact our Customer Care Team.
The World Leader in Canine Genetic Testing
Dog DNA Tests Broadly Mocked, Questioned, and Proved Inaccurate
Because Dog DNA tests have been so wrong in so many instances, they have been broadly mocked and questioned. If you want a laugh, you may want to look at reviews of the various dog DNA products online. Some of the prevalent Dog DNA test kits (like PetConfirm, which used to be sold at Walmart) appear to have gone out of business. It seems that they were wrong more than they were right, and just quit trying. Below are samples of a few of the negative reviews from real world customers who know without a doubt that their test results were wildly inaccurate.
On February 10, 2020 Ronald Hansen left a one-star review of a major DNA test kit (sold on Amazon) with the comment: Meet my 20 pound Boxer, Australian Shepherd, Rottweiler. He attached a picture of his white 20 pound dog (with a sibling) that looks nothing like a Boxer, Australian Shepherd, or Rottweiler. Once again, the DNA test had been grossly inaccurate.
Joyce Hansen knew her mother dog was a Husky (but didn’t know who the dad was that impregnated her Husky). She did a DNA test, but left a 1-star review writing “There is no way the test results are right. I know the mom was a husky and it didn’t say anything about [the pup] being husky at all.”
Another Reviewer of Embark wrote, “Fake Science: Let’s throw some colored dice in a bucket, swirl it around and then read those first six cubes as they fall on the floor. That is the extent of accuracy for this final DNA report we received. The breeds listed are a hodgepodge of canine characters. Their voodoo science didn’t connect with even one believable breed. The predicted weight was completely off! There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that our dog is a terrier, with wire hair, and yet his report has him listed as six different breeds. Yes he is a mutt, we knew that but let’s try to make your charts and reliable data a bit more believable. Another example of snake oil salesmen making it rich based on our foolhardy belief that they have the answer. Save your money. The dog doesn’t care who his parents were.”
Another reviewer wrote, “Horrible!!!! We got back a 100% Biewer Terrier. There is absolutely NO way this dog is a pure breed dog. Description says should be 7-8” tall & less than 8 lbs. He is 17 lbs and his legs are 7-8” tall! VERY DISAPPOINTED IN THIS PRODUCT FOR THE PRICE!!”
Another example: “Lucy is my 25-pound fur kid that I would have bet was a Bassett Hound/Dachsund mix…big floppy ears, short stocky legs and a face like a German Shepard…so when the test results indicated she was ‘mostly Chihuahua’, I suspected I was ‘mostly scammed’. It’s followed up w/emails begging me to ‘upgrade’ to a health analysis, which I bet will show Lucy has an Identity Disorder.”
On February 6, 2020, Scott wrote, “I don’t think they got it right. My dog is a 30lb scruffy dog that looks like a terrier. Results came back all large breeds that don’t look anything like my dog. My vet agreed it cannot be accurate. I sent embark an email and it went unanswered.”
Another wrote, “Expensive and inaccurate. Can not recommend. You make the call, they claim this dog is 100% American pit bull. You ever see a pit bull run like that? You ever see a pit bull with long muscular legs, long toes, deep chest, and a thin waist that runs like a sight hound and can jump up on a 3 foot tall counter top from a standstill? Yeah, us neither. Then when we called them the guy on the phone wanted to argue about it.”
Wisdom Panel DNA Testing Has Been Demonstrated to be Wrong Repeatedly
The most shocking negative reviews come from those who have used the Wisdom Panel test. Online searches will find nearly 1,000 negative Wisdom Panel reviews on Amazon. Many of these reviews tested dogs where at least one parent was known and didn’t show up at all in the test. Numerous customers accuse Wisdom Panel of fraud and deception.
For example a reputable breeder wrote about the fraud of Wisdom Panel, “I purchased two of these for two of my dogs. As a breeder I was mostly after the health testing but also thought the breed confirmation was a nice touch and that the limited but adequate color trait testing was an added bonus. I collected samples from both dogs, registered the kits online and shipped them off. The results came back in 2 weeks for one dog and 3 weeks for the other. My dogs are registered purebred with a long, well documented and distinguished history behind them… And yet both dogs came back as mixed breeds. I was shocked after the first one and emailed the company and received no response at first. The second came in and had even more impossible “findings” beyond just the breed and I emailed again – and again no response. Long story short I finally called the company and they said that the test is not accurate or designed for purebred dogs. Their only resolution was for me to send in pictures and pedigrees on my dogs so they can “determine if a mistake was made”. If they can’t do that with their DNA when it’s only ONE BREED….. how exactly could they determine – with any level of accuracy – multiple breeds. No refund was ever given or offered despite their own admission that the test is “inaccurate on purebred dogs” – which they make no mention of in their listing. This is plain fraud.”
Melanie Rachwitz wrote of her Wisdom Panel test, “Sorry i spent my hard earned money on this. It was way off on my great dane mix. Told me he was overweight by 40 lbs and part poodle! He is 90 lbs and part GD! He would be all bones at their weight! We called to request another test but instead they asked us to submit all the info that we had from the vet on what kind of dog he was. If we knew all that i wouldn’t have the need for dna! I spend $170 on this waste. In the end they refunded us $50.”
Slamming Wisdom Panel, Ann writes, “Not Even Close To My Dog’s Breed. My puppy’s mother is a chocolate lab, dad unknown. We did the test to determine what her dad was. It came back 63 percent American Staffordshire Terrier and 13 percent chow, no lab at all. She has NONE of the characteristics of either of these breeds (i.e. purple tongue, curly tail, small ears). Total waste of money. Update: After I complained to Wisdom Panel, they admitted: “but rather denote ancestors who were so mixed that no pure breed was present within those generations.” So, I believe that since they could not identify a breed, they simply made a guess and sent that to me. As a side note, my son has a dog, COMPLETELY different than my puppy and he got almost the identical analysis. That must be their “go to” if they don’t have an answer.”
Another customer complained about Wisdom Panel, “Personally I feel like they pulled a card out of the drawer and sent it. my dog exhibits zero traits of any of the breeds they returned on the analysis. I used a different vendor on a past dog and could actually see the traits of the dog matching part of the analysis. Zero with this one I can’t prove it but I truly believe it’s a scam. If I Google golden retriever sheltie mix I see hundreds of pictures that look similar to exactly like my dog, neither of which were mentioned in the analysis . Spend the extra money and use a premium vendor.”
Janet Buhaly thinks that Wisdom Panel is horribly inaccurate, “After receiving the results, I was suspicious to say the least. I had used the same test on another dog, and knew that test to be inaccurate, but thought I’d give the test a second chance. I also used two other DNA tests for comparison. The other tests came back before Wisdom Panel, and identified the same breeds in my mixed breed dog. Wisdom Panel went a totally different route, none of which made sense. I contacted Wisdom Panel, sent a photo, and was sent a second email in about a week. I even asked if the other breeds mentioned by the other tests could be found in my dogs DNA. The Wisdom Panel rep rambled on about how they got their results, included a high school genetics lesson, and concluded that there could not possibly be the breeds I questioned. You decide; two other tests agree, but Wisdom Panel finds completely different results. I won’t use them again, and I won’t recommend the product.”
B. Lynn got wrong results, “The test was easy enough to swab. The identified breeds don’t really match up with what my dog looked like. They said my dog was 1/2 Australian cattle dog while it’s definite possible for some, half is a bit to generous. They didn’t identify my dog as having any Rottweiler and the father was 1/2 Rottweiler. The mother of I recall was 3/4 Alaskan husky and 1/4 Siberian husky. I contacted the company and they explained the results but it’s not a very good explanation nor accurate. I would not recommend this company to anyone for testing their dog.”
Jill wrote about the inaccuracy of the Wisdom Panel Test regarding her Irish Wolfhound mix, “I rescued a dog and first vet visit he told me he thought this tiny puppy I had was a irish wolfhound mix. I was excited. At 6 months I started to think about all I had read about health problems with irish wolfhounds and potentially what health problems could whatever he is mix with have that I might want to be prepared for. I decided to spend the money even though my vet had warned me they were inaccurate. I had a customer who had done it and she had shown it to me and it seemed to be pretty accurate because her dog looked like a American Stafford Terrier. When I received the results for me dog it was the same results as my customers. I thought how could that be? Did they mix up the sample? Did I do the test wrong? Why would it come back exactly the same as the results my customer had shown me. My dog doesn’t look anything like that dog. When I wrote the company they said they needed a picture of my dog and then It would take 16 business day to get back to me. When they got back to me they just wrote a lengthy explanation of dog breeds which certainly did help explain why my dog mostly Ameican Stafford Terrier . When I tell people he is 7 1/2 months and is a pit bull they say no way. I tell them yep I got his DNA tested and that’s what he is. Most people tell me they think he is irish wolfhound.”
Sarah S. thought Wisdom Panel was a complete waste of her money, “Unfortunately, this product did not work for me at all, and the company was frustrating to deal with. I was really excited to use this DNA test, and I will say that they got my results back promptly along with the fact that the kit was not terribly difficult to figure out. However, what they said about my dog’s DNA told me absolutely nothing new about him. I purchased my dog from a reputable breeder, and he was supposedly a Bichonpoo. However, they also breed miniature golden doodles, and I believe he looks more like a golden doodle, so I was curious as to whether there had been an accidental pregnancy. I purchased this kit with the belief that it would be relatively easy for them to figure out his heritage since he could only be a Bichonpoo or a golden doodle. However, all the results told me was that he was mostly miniature poodle, and the rest was an unidentifiable breed group. They listed companion group and sporting group as likely groups for the rest of his DNA, but Bichon Frises are listed in the companion group and golden retrievers are listed in the sporting group. This means that I paid a lot of hard-earned money to learn absolutely nothing and still be stuck with my same problem. I also tried contacting them to try to clarify which group, and after 3 days, they gave me the excuse of his ancestry is most likely a rare breed or variant when I specifically said he could ONLY be one of two breeds besides poodle. This is extremely frustrating, and I would unfortunately NOT recommend anyone buy this product.”
Lisa wrote, “We laughed when we read the results. I thought this would be such a fun and surprisingly holiday gift for the family. I completed the test (bought it when it wasn’t on sale!) which was easy enough to use but pricey. The results that came back were disappointing and unbelievable. Not even close to what we thought and hundreds of random people have guessed over the past two years since she was a pup. It came back showing at least 5 or 6 breeds and a whole chunk of the pie was considered not identifiable to any specific breed. I will grant you that my dog is a mix, but certainly not to that degree and also the identified breeds where whacky including the facts that it was determined that my short haired, black and white hound-like dog is “part chow-chow” – what!?”
Melissa wrote, “Inaccurate! This was the most inaccurate dna test I’ve ever had completed. Didn’t even get the coat of my dog right. I will be asking for a refund! Horrible. Go with Embark.”
John and Adriana wrote, “Do not buy this product! So we have a very obvious Australian Shepard but we thought he had some type of lab or golden retriever mixed in and we took this test and it came back saying our dog was 75% terrier with an ideal weight of 34 lbs. He’s a medium sized dog who’s a very active, lean and healthy 55lbs. Complete waste of money with 0 accuracy.”
Another customer complained about Wisdom Panel, “We had used Wisdom Panel 2.0 for 2 of our other dogs and received information that was very interesting and different than what we expected but completely believable. So when we adopted a new 5 – 6 year rescue – 15 lbs. which looked like a Miniature Pinscher, we purchased this “new” version 3.0. It cost more and gave us little if any information. It listed her as a Chihuahua, American Bulldog, Beagle and Mixed breed group with an ideal weight of 31 – 51 lbs. What a joke. Our vet said this was crazy and left her listed as a Miniature Pinscher – Mix.”
One customer was glad that at least Wisdom Panel gave him a refund, “DO NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT. This is a scam. They are so inaccurate, they cannot even tell me HALF of what my dog is. How is this a DNA testing product if they cannot return results based on DNA?? Please do me a favor and do not buy this item. You’re better off asking an employee at the humane society what they think your dog is – seriously. I wish I could return this item, but I will make sure to let everyone know not to buy this. It literally said “62.5% other breeds” on the results. Please tell me how this is a DNA test. I actually can’t believe they are even getting away with this – its robbery. UPDATE: They emailed me back and said my dog is most likely foreign, so they won’t be able to provide me with his info. They’re giving me a refund.”
Bruce Mackey was very disappointed with Wisdom Panel, “The results came back that our dog was Golden Retriever, German Sheppard, Border Collie and a mix. We know for a fact that her mother was pure Lab. One of two dogs was the sire, a Rottweiler or Doberman. Those were the only two males that had access to her mother. These test results are way off, I expected better after our first experience with you which was very good. I will not recommend your product. I tried to leave this review on the company website but unless you give the product two or more stars, you cannot submit the review! That’s one way of getting positive reviews.”
One reviewer wrote that you should “save your money and guess instead.” “We just adopted a one year old shelter dog and were eager to find out what she’s “made of”, so we ordered the Wisdom Panel DNA kit. It was easy to use, the instructions were clear and a few hours later the kit was on its way to the lab. The shelter, the vet and the various “dog people” we know, all seemed to think she’s either Border Collie or Australian Cattle Dog and, looking at her, it’s hard to believe that she could be anything else! Two and half weeks later, which is just about the time that Wisdom Panel estimated for the process to be complete….the results are in! All very exciting….right up until we see the full list of breeds, along with pictures, that make up our pup! Surely they got her DNA mixed up with another dog? Chow Chow and American Staffordshire Terrier make up 50% of her DNA, this petite racing machine that lives to chase rabbits and birds is 50% Chow Chow and American Staffordshire Terrier?? What follows next reads like a who’s who of the American Kennel Club. Apparently the remaining 50% contains everything from Pug (seriously) to Great Dane (I kid you not) along with a smattering of Pomeranian, Shih-Tzu, Boxer, Min-Pin, Schnauzer, Wheaten, Bichon, German Shepherd and more…so much more! I was heartened to see Border Collie somewhere in the list of “others” but to be honest, it would be hard to find a breed that wasn’t on the list! I was never under the impression that this would be an exact science for $80, but really, I think sending in a photograph and asking for a “best guess” would have been less disappointing.”
On Jan. 4, 2020, Terry Klein wrote, “Not sure how accurate this is, we recently got a couple Catahoula pups, the father was a yellow lab and the mother was a Catahoula. If you’re not familiar with the Catahoula look up the breed, they have a specific look. The test came back 50% Doberman Pincher on the father’s side, the grand mother and grad father on the dads side were also doberman pincher. Then the mother came back as 12% Rottweiler, 12% lab and 25% hound mix. So I have to question how accurate this really is? It didn’t come back with any Catahoula DNA, and the dogs are defiantly have Catahoula in them with a face structure of a lab.”
Commenting on Wisdom Panel, Vera wrote, “Waste of money! I had heard good things about Wisdom and got curious about our rescue. He literally looks like a yellow lab and dachshund combo. People ask all the time if he’s a lab puppy. So I was shocked when the results said he was 25% cocker spaniel, 25% poodle and 50% breed mix made up of terrier, companion, sporting, and sighthound. (That’s as specific as it got) Seriously, for the price I’d expect more. I’m sorry I did the test because not only is it inaccurate, it’s a waste when 50% consists of throwing a dart at four breed groups and saying guess… I honestly thought they mixed up his sample with another dog. I was expecting a surprise after reading other reviews, but his supposed DNA mix is ridiculous.”
Matthew Doyle was frustrated with his wrong results. “I bought this product a few months ago, and I will start by saying…the results take a LONG time to recieve. Though that is consistent with all other dna kits, this one seemed longer than usual. The first kit I recieved, I swabbed my pup and sent it in, took almost 7 weeks and I recieved inconclusive results. I contacted Wisdom to have them send another kit to try again, which took another few weeks to recieve in the mail. I reswabbed my pup and sent in the swabs. About 7 weeks after the second submission I recieved results that, in my opinion are unacceptable for a dna kit. They said “75% of my pups genealogy is within 5 GROUPS, in order of likelihood…Terrier, Asian, Sporting, Hound, and one other.” First, my dog very much resembles a hound so I was expecting to have a dialed in response of they hound(s) type. Continuing, the other 35% was divided evenly among Husky and American Staffordshire Terrier in which my dog doesnt resemble. I would not recommend this produce due to thw long wait time and the extremely generic and inaccurate results. I will contact the company for a refund.”
Charles S. pointed out how his Embark test seemed more accurate than Wisdom Panel. “The picture is of my not quite 6 month old mix-breed. She is very large for her age (almost 50 pds) and has long legs. I originally bought this option because it was cheaper but neither me nor my vet agreed it was accurate. So I decided to go ahead and spend even more and bought the Embark test which was about $40- 50 more. This one indicated 37.5% pit, 12.5% basset hound, 12.5% English Springer Spaniel, and 12.5% Lhasa Apaso. We could believe the pit and English Springer, but defs not basset hound or Lhasa Apaso. The Embark test was much more reliable and went back to great grandparents, this one only goes to grandparents. Embark indicated 24.8% pit, 16.4% chow, 13.8% English Springer Spaniel, 11.2% husky, 8.8% boxer, 7.8% golden and 6.1% Lab. Definite differences and definitely no Lhasa Apaso or Basset hound! Save yourself $80 and buy the Embark one first.”
Linda Jean used the Wisdom Panel test twice (with the exact same dog), and both times the results were very, very different. She wrote, “I actually used this as a second test for my Heinz 57 pup. The first test came back with results of 5 breeds that did not appear to match her looks or personality. Even though we read that testing is 99% accurate, my question is, how do you know unless you test again. So this was my second test. Results came back with a mix of breeds only one breed matched the first results. So now, do we believe the first or the second test results?”
While some purebreds are called mixed, some known mixed breed dogs are said to be purebred. One customer wrote, “This test is not accurate. It was purchased for my mixed-breed Chihuahua (who is aesthetically large with squared features), with mixed-breed parents. The results erroneously came back as 100% purebred.”
Hannah M. wrote, “0 stars; I got scammed! i’ve spoken to many people who have used this and no one got good results and somehow everyone got 50% staffy?? their markers are wrong for that breed. even small dogs wouldn’t be so small if that was accurate. for my dog, i have a dog whose mother is a registered catahoula that got out and got pregnant. i got the test to find out information on the father. my results were off the freaking wall. all under some “category” with a grandpa boxer and, you guessed it, a grandpa staffy (i was warned this would happen). it told me nothing specific on either the mother (who was registered, so it should have picked up) or the father which is what i originally wanted to know. i spoke with someone on the phone who told me to email photos and they would help and my faith was regained but they ignored my email. i wasted my money and i have been scammed, they don’t really care what you think your dog is as long as you give them money. should have just saved up more and tried out embark.”
Another wrote, “I wasted my money. Chinese crested and German Shepherd? Cocker Spaniel and Weimeriner? Some chow and Breed Group, maybe. But seriously, I was really looking forward to receiving results. . . I was very careful to follow directions and get a good sample that was not contaminated by food, toys, anything. But I think the lab is able to actually mess up sometimes and completely miss the mark. In my case I feel stupid for wasting my money. I will continue calling my boy a retriever, border collie mix, since that is what he resembles and acts like to me.”
Julia Chaloupka wrote, “So I followed all the instructions and waited my 3 weeks to get my results back for my dog Apollo. Pretty much got totally scammed. His results are entirely inaccurate and ridiculous. They had his DNA as a mixture of coonhound, boxer, GSD, and husky. And 37.5% undetermined, which is super helpful (not). We were told that my dog is an Australian Kelpie mix, and he is full grown at 45 lbs. The results say his adult weight will be between 57-70 lbs which is absurd. This is either a total sham or they updloaded the wrong report for my sample. Here is a picture of my dog, compared to a coonhound (which apparently he is 25% of), you can decide if you think my dog has coonhound and boxer in him. Waste of time and money.”
Another frustrated Wisdom Panel customer said, “My dog is Australian Shepard and Chocolate Lab. He weights 55 pounds and the vet says he should lose 5. Neither breed was found in his DNA. 25% American Bulldog?!! Rottweiller, Golden Retriever??? They have him weighing 76 + pounds. I would believe it if at least 1 of the his breeds were found. The remaining 50% threw him into 4 breed groups. Very disappointed. I was excited and looking forward to the results.”
Quinn Pribyl was frustrated with Wisdom Panel, “I bought this for my 8 month old Mixed Breed named Moose. He’s solid black & resembles a golden retriever almost identically based on appearance. He has the demeanor of goldens, the ears, the hair, the tail, the eyes. The shelter I got him from thought he was a golden/black lab. My vet thought border collie. I always thought golden/black lab/ border collie and possibly a little shepherd in there. He’s full sized and weighs 50 pounds. When I got the results back, I was pretty surprised. According to Wisdom Panel – Moose is 25% German Shepherd, 25% UNRECOGNIZABLE, and 12.5% is split across 4 breeds. Those 4 being: American Staffordshire Terrier, Golden Retriever, Chow Chow, and Beagle. I’m no expert, but he represents no traits of a German Shepherd in demeanor or appearance. Golden Retriever I can see. The other 62.5% I don’t believe & feel to be inaccurate. I heard people doing two tests on the same dog with Wisdom Panel and getting DIFFERENT results. This seems mind baffling to being that it’s DNA, maybe I should do this too & see what happens. Disappointed. Waste of $60.”
Jeffrey knew his Wisdom Panel results didn’t add up. “I was really excited about finally knowing what my rescue mutt was made out of. My vet had him pegged has a beagle mix. I agreed but wanted to know more. Got the kit the day after I ordered it and had the results two weeks later. 25% miniature people, 25% miniature schnauze, 12.5% bichon frise, 12.5% Chihuahua, 12.5% Pekingese. !?! Look I wouldn’t mind owning any of those dogs.. I love dogs!! But Taco’s size, fur, characteristics, color, personality don’t not fall in line with these breeds.. IMO.. maybe I am wrong? Maybe I should send them my Chihuahuas DNA just in case he is actually a bulldog, Greyhound, Boston terrier mix.. see pic”
Renn’s husband thought the results were hilarious. “I had both of my rescue dogs tested. When I told my husband the results he couldn’t stop laughing & said I wasted my money. We have had Boxers & Labs in the past. We were shocked to find out our black dog did not have any lab in him. They came up with a lot of large breeds & he is not that big. My guess would be he is definitely lab & has all the traits and demeanor or a lab, he might even have some pit bull in him, but we will never know because they only test the registered breeds. They said our little girl had boxer, which we already knew, but we have been asked if she was part whippet, greyhound and Mountain Curr. She is also a small/medium size dog. Not too happy with what they are saying because she looks NOTHING like a bull dog lol.”
One customer said, “I ordered this DNA kit to test my 6 month old rescue dog. When the results came back I was very surprised and unsure of the credibility of the kit. At my vet’s suggestion, I ordered a second kit from a different company. When the results came back from the second company there was some overlap in breed but the second company was much more thorough in how and what they defined. I wish I had saved my money and gone with the second company in the first place.”
Patricia doubted her Wisdom Panel incorrect results. “2 rescued dogs…. 1yr and 1 1/2 yr…completely different in looks….body size. and shape……coats dissimiliar in texture and appearance …DNA comes back BOTH!!!! are Miniture Poodle and Chihuahua!!!! I seriously doubt it!!!!! one has a Maltese face (I have had 4) and has fluffy white hair….the other is multicolored with wavy wiry hair….NOTHING resembling a poodle or a short legged chihuahua!!!!! I just don’t buy it…….save your money!!!”
Lyndsey Gulak said Wisdom Panel was a waste of money. “I’m so disappointed. We know for a fact that our dog is part Dachshund and part Lab. We were looking to find out what other breed he was mixed with that gives him his curly tail. His results were absolutely ridiculous and They have to have mixed his sample up with another dog or something. Neither of those breeds that we KNOW for sure he is mixed with, came up in the results. It says he’s 25% Beagle, 12.5% staffordshire terrior!!!!, 12.5% chow chow (which we actually did think was causing the curly tail), and 50% a mix of the herding, terrior and sporting groups which is pretty much impossible. I posted a photo of my dog. It’s pretty clear what he is partially mixed with based on his look alone. I wish I had just spent the extra money on the better rates products.”
Jae writes, “More scam than not. Test is 100% incorrect. I assumed the people complaining about it were just too picky and weren’t giving the true weight of skepticism something like this should probably come with. It turns out that it’s far closer to a scam then it is anything legitimate or worthwhile. I was wrong to give the test the benefit of the doubt and I regret using it.”
Bridget included a picture with totally wrong results. “I was really eager to get the results for my puppy. I knew what breed she was because of her mother, just wasn’t sure of the percentage. I now believe this test Is far from accurate and a waste of money. I included a photo of my Belgian Malinois and the results I received. Very disappointing.”
Another felt it was a total waste. “The results were very disappointing. The Wisdom Panel test indicated that our 10 lb. dog was 50% Poodle (which we agree), 25% Chihuahua, and 25% herding, terrier or companion dog (which total 60+ different breeds). We see no indication of Chihuahua at all and the herding, terrier or companion indication is useless. I have read the reviews and many people complained that Chihuahua was indicated in their dog’s results, and well as, vague breed category results. I am not a complainer, but this test was a complete waste of money. We had a previous dog tested through our vet clinic and we were more than pleased with the results. I would not recommend this test.”
Lisa Yeager called her Wisdom Panel test a “waste of money” and “inaccurate.” “We are quite disappointed. We’ve hoped to find out what breed our dog is, or at least get a better idea. The test says he’s 25% German Shepard, 25% boxer and the rest just mutt mixes. According to the test, he should weigh about 62-80 pounds. Our dog weighs 48 pounds, is not a boxer, chow, pitt, schnauzer or great Dane. We’re really disappointed and think they messed up the sample or just put a bunch of random breeds together.”
Another customer wrote, “I ordered two of these and the results came back completely the same for both dogs. It indicated that both are 100% AmStaff which I know for a fact they’re both mixed and two completely different dogs. It’s so disappointing waiting weeks for results that are clearly incorrect.”
Harper Bleu wrote, “My dog is a 20lb, 8″ tall Jack Russell / dachshund mix. NONE of the listed dogs match even close to my dog. She is small framed, no brachycephalic head (Boxer? Boston Terrier? uh no). All of these dogs except the Chihuahua and BT are WAY bigger than my dog. What a waste of money. *FYI – if you attempt to leave a 1 star review on Wisdom, it won’t let you, so their own reviews are skewed.* 12.5%American Staffordshire Terrier; 12.5%Boston Terrier; 12.5%Boxer; 12.5%Chihuahua; 12.5%Siberian Husky; 37.5%Breed Group(s); Herding (Border Collie, Australian Cattle dog); Mountain Dogs (Bernese, St. Bernard)”
Stephanie was upset that Wisdom Panel shut down any questions, “I was excited to get the results of the dog we rescued, so we were very careful to follow the directions exactly. When I got the results, I was so disappointed!! He looked nothing like the breeds that this company described. So I reached out to them with my questions. They asked me to send photos of the dog tested, close up and standing. Then they came back with the same results, no new information or offer to redo the test. I am so disappointed with Wisdom!! I kept seeing their advertisements on Facebook, so I read the comment & they were similar stories to mine. So I commented with a photo of my rescue dog and Wisdom’ s DNA results of my dog and asked if he resembled what they described? A few hours later, my photo & comments were deleted and I was notified that my comment & photo were reported to Facebook! REALLY Wisdom? What a sham!!! DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS PRODUCT!!!”
Another wrote, “I got 3 of these for my dogs. I wish I would have ordered a different brand. My biggest issues were that I tried to contact customer service twice (about 2 months ago) and got zero response back. They also require a photo of your dog prior to sending in the sample. Makes me wonder if they’re just looking at the dog and guessing. My shepherd (who is an obvious shepherd) came back as mostly doberman which I thought was weird. At this price I would definitely recommend purchasing a different brand. This was a huge waste of $300.”
Patti Karnes wrote about her Wisdom Panel test, “Do not waste your money—wish I could give zero stars; Um, are you kidding? NOPE! One of two things occurred during the “DNA analysis” for our dog Aggie. Either they mixed up her sample with another dog (or possibly a cat) during their “sophisticated” breed detection algorithm or they lost her sample entirely and (fingers crossed) hoped we would be shocked and awed at the results. 12.5% American Staffordshire Terrier / 12.5% Miniature Poodle and 75% Breed Group with Wisdom Panel guessing – companion group #1 (pomeranian, pug, shih tzu, etc) and guess #2 terrier group (schnauzwer, wheaten terrier, chihuahua, etc). Even my 6 year daughter had a better guess just from meeting dogs at our local dog park. Showed my vet these results and she shook her head and laughed. Have of photo of Aggie and her mom – really? miniature poodle? Aggie at 6 months is already 25 inches tall and weighs 45 pounds. I can believe 12.5% stafford terrier – the rest? BS. With a 75% guess that is obviously wrong, I would like 75% of my money back. Do yourself a favor and do not waste your money on this total fake news test like I did.”
Chelsea wrote of her inaccurate Wisdom Panel DNA test, “I have attached 2 pictures of our 55 pound terrier mix (people in the background for size). This test alleged that he was a MAJORITY (>70%) miniature doberman pinscher, a dog that weighs, on average, 9-11 pounds and looks nothing like him. I don’t know if they got our specimen mixed up with someone else’s but it doesn’t take a genetic scientist to look at our dog and see that he is by no means a majority made up a miniature anything.”
Adam Rea warned, “Do not buy this if you have a mixed breed dog, as the results you get back will be disappointing. My dog (seen in pictures) has been pegged by a dozen vets as being mixed breed of mostly Sheppard, border collie, and hound. He weighs almost 40 lbs, has springs in his feet, and loves to herd. For these reasons, I was a completely shocked and in disbelief when the test results come back saying his highest breed percentage is Pomeranian with 25%. The other breeds didn’t make much more sense, and then there’s a 35% mixed breed category which isn’t very helpful. I don’t claim to be a dog expert, but that said I am calling serious BS on these results and the quality of their testing of mixed breed dogs. No idea how the “tests” arrived at this conclusion but take a look at the picture and judge for yourself.”
Hannah said, “Completely bogus. Our dog is a rescue, but we had it from several good sources that he was almost, if not full, Plott Hound. We were curious what else might be mixed in so we got this test and it came back as Dalmatian, German Shepherd, American Staffordshire Terrier, and “sight hound group”. The only thing that lines up in his looks and personality (not to mention size, coat, build, etc) is hound and MAYBE staffie. Very bummed we spent $ on this.”
Tracy Mae wrote, “Very disappointed! We were told he is half Rat Terrier and half Black Lab by his breeder. I SAW his mother, she is definitely a Rat Terrier. We did the panel because we thought his dad was a Lab Mix since we didn’t see him. Do you see ANY of those long haired breeds in him? And he definitely is not a herder I would think if he was over 2/3 herding group, that he would act it? Waste of money!”
Another reviewer wrote of Wisdom Panel, “Totally inaccurate! This is the dog that we submitted DNA for testing. He looks like a poodle but came back as 50% golden retriever, 37% poodle and 13% St. Bernard. So we repeated the test with another company and came back as 75% poodle and 25% golden retriever. The previous dog’s DNA was correct, but we feel this one was way off base.”
Geri wrote, “This product did not work for me. Turnaround time was normal. The test indicated I had a 100% full-blooded miniature poodle with an average weight of 15 to 27 pounds. My 9-month-old weighs 5 pounds, and I do not foresee her gaining 10+ pounds in the next 3 months. She is not a full-blooded poodle, much less a miniature poodle. Congratulations to those of you who had good results with the test. It just did not work for me.”
Nancy Bishop slammed Wisdom Panel’s wrong results, “We adopted a dog from a rescue group in AK. We don’t really care what breed she is but what attracted us to her was the fact that she appeared to be an Australian Sheppard, blue merle with blue eyes. The vet in AK thought she might be what’s known as a double merle because of her coat. Our vet in NH also looked at her and said Australian Sheppard. Additionally we have met 2 vets at different times over the past month while socializing our puppy who both remarked about what a lovely Aussie she is. We did her DNA out of curiosity. We expected Australian Sheppard possibly mixed with other breeds. Her profile says Chow, Great Pyrenees, Lab and other. None of the main contributors listed have blue eyes. Granted, perhaps the blue eyes came from the “other ” contributors but I doubt it since blue eyes are found in only 6 breeds. I’m calling “foul play” on the genetic profile we received. We love our girl no matter what she is but I have great doubts about her “profile.”
Wisdom panel was way off with this 110 pound Bernese Mountain Dog cross, which was incorrectly said to be a variety of other breeds (including Bichon, Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Chow Chow, and Lab); not even close! Though it gives you a good laugh.
Travis Lance Walters was hoping for better. “The Wisdom panel is terrible, I didn’t expect it to be 100% but to give me a general approximation. The kit identified a bunch of small dog breeds for my LARGE dog. It wasn’t even close to being right.”
Another customer wrote, “I have one dog that looks like a German Shepherd mix. My other dog is a typical looking Ridgeback. According to this the first dog is 25% and mostly chow? They say our Ridgeback dog is HALF German Shepherd and half cocker spaniel. I don’t buy that. Regardless of the breed outcome you get nothing of value anyway. Don’t waste your money.”
Parker Grant almost laughed. “We bought this for our basset hound mix, Noonan, to learn about his other breeds. He’s a rescue and they had no idea what his breed makeup consisted of. Based on Noonans behavior, coat, and physical features, we believe he is a basset, beagle and jack russel mix. I was so excited and eager for the test to tell us if this was true or not, or if there were other breeds in his genes. The test results were almost laughable. We followed the steps exactly and were so careful when “performing” the swab. Poodle, Maltese, American Staffordshire Terrier mixed with “sporting, terrier, or guard” breed groups. The Staffordshire is the only slightly possible option here, but poodle or Maltese is such a stretch. Wish I would’ve just saved my money.”
Many people feel it’s been a total waste of their money. “I was excited about doing this test for our beloved elderly dog. We knew his mother was a Schnoodle but dad was a mystery. Our boy looks like a Schnauzer with curls (poodle) on top his head. His test came back with crazy breeds identified and no where in his report was Schnauzer or Poodle mentioned. Did they mix up his sample? I don’t know. But I can tell you no one responded to our questions. This was a huge waste of money and a complete disappointment. I DO NOT recommend.”
Cindy also wrote that Wisdom Panel is a waste of money. “I have a 18 pound dog that looks like a mix of black lab and dachshund with a shiny black coat and floppy ears. I was so excited to find out what he really is a mix of. Well I was extremely disappointed as the results showed he was a mix of poodle and cocker spaniel. Not even close to possible so I consider this a waste of money. My daughter is a geneticist and even she shook her head at results. Don’t waste your money!”
Lora realized it was a total waste of money. “I am sorely disappointed in the results from a this test. I have a mixed breed that we know one parent was a Corgi and the other was mostly Aussie. She looks like a short Aussie and yet the test indicates she is mostly a Chihuahua Labrador mixed with Bull Dog. She is also 37% “breed group of 4 groups!” and I if I understand the results, they only tested the guard group, yet we have every indication she is in the herding group. She is now almost 7 months old and weighs about 23 lbs and the test indicated her ideal weight is from 27 to 46 lbs. How is that information useful?…all medium-size dogs have that ideal weight range, so what is that supposed to narrow down for me? From what I now read on other peoples’ reviews, this test may be good for those trying to validate a pure-breed but for those who rescued mixed-breed pups and want to learn more about their genetic makeup, this is a waste of money. I would much rather have donated $90 bucks to my local shelter than spent it on a test that I believe has no value. I know they are the scientists; however, I 100% do not believe the results are accurate for my pup (see the photo’s). It’s hard to believe she is a “Chihuahua-Dor Retriever, Bull Dog, Terrier, Herding, Sporting, Hound Dog”. The results indicated one of her parents was 1/2 Cihuahua and 1/2 Labrador Retriever (wow). She is also 37% of one of 4 breed groups; which tells me nothing. You should use your own visual assessment of your dogs appearance and characteristics to determine his/her breed mix and donate money to your local shelter instead of spending it on this test.”
Manchini feels scammed by Wisdom Panel. “We got our rescue from adoptapet.com located in Ocala, Fl. They told us that the mom they knew was dogo argentino mix american bulldog, but they did not know the father of the litter. So there were 5 puppies and our puppy was the last one in the shelter. From day one I ordered this product, did follow everything I suposed to do and please look at the results. NOWHERE SAYS DOGO ARGENTINO OR AMERICAN BULLDOG AS WE KNEW FOR A FACT THAT, THAT WAS THE MOTHER. So, after this test we are back to square number one, and we are done with DNA scams. We love our puppy and whatever he is, we will be happy. Bottom line is- WHY AMAZON SELLS SCAM?!?!?”
Kelly writes, “My dog has none of the characteristics of any of the breeds they identified. The test was easy to use, but we’re convinced our dog’s DNA sample was possibly switched with another dog in error. When questioned about it, Wisdom Panel requested photos of my dog. I provided them, even though I told them it felt like cheating. They used the photos to try to justify my results. I am not convinced, but they refused to test him again. They basically told me that it doesn’t matter what breeds my dog looks like, dominant and recessive genes can be in all dogs. They can basically look like anything when they are of mixed breed. Everyone who sees my dog says “No way that’s what he is”.
One angry customer said of Wisdom Panel, “We purchased this DNA test because we gradually became somewhat convinced that our dog, Bella, is a mix between a Belgian Malinois and a Bluetick Coonhound rather than a German Shepard and a Bluetick Coonhound. The test came back with “Beagle, Boxer, Labrador Retriever, Huskie, and ‘Asian Groups.’” Neither the German Sheppard or Belgian Malinois breeds were even mentioned as a possibility. Bella is unquestionably mixed with one or the other, at a relatively high percentage! Her uncharacteristically long rear legs, amazing stamina, speed and endurance, relatively thin and low-maintenance coat, and incredibly healthy physique were the characteristics that made “German Sheppard” seem less and less likely relative to a Malinois. Her coat’s color, size, ears, and nose are relatively clear indications of the aforementioned breeds. Our Vet also never found any health problems typical of Labs, Beagles or Boxers. We wanted clarification, and not some made-up fantasies. We already know, for a fact, that one of Bella’s grandparents is a purebreed Bluetick Coonhound — likely the reason for the Malinois or Shepard traits seemingly being dominant — and yet, they even failed to identify that breed. Somehow, a smaller hound breed was identified (the Beagle), but this would make Bella 20-30lbs lighter. This test is complete and utter nonsense, do not purchase it!!!!!!”
Jessica was disappointed. “I had full faith in this… until I got my results. We have a dog that looks mostly yellow lab but the vet said she’s mixed with German Shepherd but we thought maybe beagle instead, the consensus has been 50/50 from friends and strangers alike. Finally committed to the DNA test and anxiously awaited the results. We got them back and they made NO sense for my dog. I did a poll on a few social media platforms and it’s agreed upon that these results must be incorrect. I emailed the company to question them with no response. Don’t bother.”
Another customer was upset, “I’m very disappointed with this product. I heard that it might have a hard time identifying dog breeds if your dog is super “mixed breed” from a shelter which makes sense to me. I thought my dog was a good candidate because we knew he was 50% bluetick hound and we were curious about the other half. According to wisdom panel my dog is 12.5% chihuahua, 12.5% Newfoundland, 12.5% golden retriever and the rest was labeled mixed breed. They didn’t even identify his major hound group, which is 50% bluetick. On the company website they list bluetick as a breed that they test for. Take a look at the breakdown and a picture of my dog and see what you think.”
Elaine Parker wrote, “I have a dog who is a border collie/golden retriever mix. The analysis said that she is 1/8 german shepard, 1/8 boxer, 1/8 am. Staffordshire terrier, and 1/8 rottweiller (and 1/2 “herding”). The part that was accurate was not very specific and the rest was way off. Don’t waste your money!”
Renee Mundy wrote about Wisdom Panel “Absolutely incorrect. I debated purchasing this test for my dogs for months. Caught it on a Black Friday sale. I am utterly shocked that Amazon still carries this product. Results could not be completely different from the dogs we adopted. I actually feel I knew more before using this product. Science my butt! BE SMART AND DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY!!!”
Another customer wrote, “Keep your money! After years of people asking “what kind of a dog is that?” in regards to my rescue, I finally decided to break down and buy this DNA test. I sincerely feel like these people stole my $80+ tax. According to them he is 25% miniature pinscher (he’s not a barker like most min-pins), 25% miniature poodle, 25% bloodhound (the boy has the dog world’s worst sense of smell), 12.5% chihuahua and 12.5% maltese. Never mind that he’s 14” long from the base of his neck to the base of his tail, like a weenie dog, and has a terrier’s wiry double coat. I really don’t know what to say other than it’s between this test and my first marriage license as to which was a bigger waste of money.”
James Waelbaecher was angry with Wisdom Panel, “***DO NOT BUY*** This product is a FRAUD. I had a great golden retriever with a little mix in her and was desperate to see her DNA because she became sick and wanted to know the MIX as to know for future for possible replacement pup. I purchased this horrible ripoff product and the results were 25% Golden retriever 13% Pitbull 13% Bulldog and other mixes that were ridiculous. Biggest disappointment as pup passed and now do not have true results. Really pisses me off that company can be in business that offers this type of fraudulent results and that AMAZON allows it on website.
***DO NOT BUY***”
Simon Vazquez wrote, “I have had my rescue for 3 years, and was determined to get him a test for his third birthday. The test results arrived promptly, but it appeared as though they were determined by throwing eight darts at a board covered with dog breeds. Finn is a long-haired shepherd dog with coloration similar to a burnese, and a build to match his shepherd-like facial structure. My results read as follows: 12.5% American Eskimo Dog;
12.5% American Staffirdshire Terrier; 12.5% Boxer; 12.5% Chow Chow; 12.5% German Shepherd; 12.5% Shorthaired Dachshund; 12.5% Siberian Husky; 12.5% Breeding Groups. I would have been better off tearing my $80 in to 8 pieces and randomly placing the pieces on 8 breed pages out of the Dog Encyclopedia.”
Some customers with tiny dogs get back only very large breeds from their Wisdom Panel test. “When I looked at previous reviews before buying, I saw what the negative reviews said. Most talked about not getting the results they expected of coarse, so I ignored that and bought the product. It is a pretty simple system to use, but don’t let that be the reason you throw your money away! I realize now why most people point out the similarities in everyone’s results. It’s because they just put the most common breeds found at a rescue in your results. I have a small dog ( I won’t say what type), but all the results that came back, are large bread dogs. They named every type of dog at our rescue; American Staffordshire, Husky, Standard ( large) poodle, And Malamute. Only breed they missed from the rescue list was Labrador. It’s like you are a midget and they say you came from giants. Lol!!!!”
Jess V. knew that her Wisdom Panel results were way off. “We adopted this little guy from a family who had a litter from a purebred liver Border Collie (like the picture on the right) and a mixed liver & white German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP). We wanted to confirm his true mix breed breakdown by using this kit. Surprisingly, the results had neither Pointer and nor Border Collie in it, which right there gave us a sign that the results could not be trusted. Instead, it came out 37% Boxer, 12% Labrador and 52% American Strafford Terrier, which is a bully-breed. Our little long-legged little guy has a lean, build, and even has the typical ‘pointer’ stance when he goes chasing after squirrels, birds and lizzards, so .. what happened here? What do you guys think?”
Brian Crooner said, “My dog appears to be mostly golden retriever with a lesser amount of Great Pyrenees. I was shocked when the Wisdom results said he was 25% German Shepard, 25% Great Pyrenees and 12.5% Australian Shepard, 12.5% Bullmastiff and 12.5% Chow Chow. The remainder was not listed. Zero % Golden Retrieve is simply impossible. I plan to re-test with a different company.”
Another wrote, “My dog is a mastiff mix. Owner said mixed with lab. My trainer who has trained military and police dogs for most of her adult years and now trains service dogs says it’s not a lab mix. I did the wisdom panel test, results 35% Rottweiler 24% Mastiff 12 % small terrier rest is mix. I told my trainer the results. She said a group sent in 3 dna samples from many pure breed dogs to 3 of the largest companies doing dna testing. One in three were came back correct yet never the same company. My dog definitely is not Rottweiler. I wouldn’t waste my money.”
Steve Clark was upset that he was ripped off by Wisdom Panel, “We bought this to help verify that our dog’s breeds. If you Google poodle/Australian shepherd, and that’s exactly what Henry looks like. Our DNA results? they say he’s 75% Chihuahua, 12.5% Miniature Pinscher, and 12.5% other. What a joke. Also, obtaining the sample involves swabbing the dog’s mouth with 2 swabs, then doing it again an hour later. I don’t know about your dog, but getting Henry to co-operate with this is like giving a dental exam to a Great White Shark.
Something else: We got this $80 kit, but they have a $160 kit. Why? is it more accurate? Honestly, save your money. Your vet can make pretty educated guesses, then start searching mixes.”
Another customer wrote, “Totally bogus results. Trying to convince me that my Nova Scotia Duck Toller is a PIT BULL is like trying to convince me the sky is green when I’m staring right at it. These results blew my mind, and not in the good way. Everyone I know who has used these tests is telling me to go with Embark, which I will now to compare – I just wish I wasn’t out the $80 and 2 weeks of waiting.”
Susan Greg said, “Don’t waste your money. My dog was mostly other breeds and the ones they said she was were clearly wrong. They were all long hair breeds and she is short hair. I was very disappointed and I never write negative reviews!”
Casi realized she wasted money for wrong results, “I was so excited to figure out what my rescue pup was. Took this and got the 87.2% Am Staff and 12.5% mutt. I started looking at other results…… almost everyone one had 87.5% something… and usually Am Staff. Just seems off. Started seeing others who did embark after wisdom panel….. omg…. much better and more accurate results. I’m really bummed I wasted the money on this one first. Just got embark and I can’t wait to see those results! All in all…. don’t recommend. Try embark! It’s a bit more money, but way more info and actually correct info.”
Gary Warner was upset, “Save your money. Our DNA test fails to recognize the breed of the purebred mother as being present in any way, yet throws every Tom, Mutt, and Harry in giving us worthless characteristics our dog may have inherited from those breeds if only any of them were true.”
Gregory Visconty said that his results were horribly wrong, or they accidentally switched his dog with another one. “This is my healthy weight 110 Lb dog. We know his mother is a purebred Bernese Mountain dog, we are unsure of the father and this is why we wanted to do this test. The test came back with this result; 25% Border Collie; 25% Labrador Retriever; 12.5% Australian Shepherd; 12.5% Bichon Frise; 12.5% Chow Chow; 12.5% Breed Group(s); Healthy Weight – 41 lbs – 67 lbs”
Luy wrote, “The wait is finally over and i received my results. My pup is definitely a mix, i just wanted to identify whether his short red coat and size came from. Well this test gave me back 62% rottweiler mixed with an american bulldog and a wheaton terrier. Look at the pictures of my pup and you judge for yourself. I’m contacting customer service as it would appear my sample was compromised or mixed with another dogs.”
This is just a sampling of the hundreds and hundreds of negative reviews of Wisdom Panel. Last I checked it was approaching a thousand negative reviews of people who felt completely scammed because their results were so inaccurate.
If you read the FAQ sections of almost any of the Dog DNA tests they acknowledge that they are a best guess and can be inaccurate. However, when they present the results, some of the DNA testers (especially Wisdom Panel) present it as if it is scientific fact. If you look at a result chart, it appears that they know exactly what breeds the mom, dad, and grandparents are.
If you’re a breeder reading this article and interested in a potential class action lawsuit against Wisdom Panel, Embark, or other Dog DNA testers, please let us know your experience. We have been hearing from breeders who are fed up with exaggerated claims on the part of DNA testing companies. When questioned, they are quick to acknowledge that their “science” is just a “best guess”, but they present their guesses to the end customer as if it is scientific fact.