I-TEAM: Putting dog DNA tests to the test

Monday, Dec. 9, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – Money might not grow on trees, but one of the most popular gifts this holiday season does – as in your family tree.

Last year, more people bought DNA kits from Ancestry.com and 23AndMe than in all the other years combined. Those are just humans, but, believe it or not, there are also doggie DNA kits.

Until now, learning about your dog’s heritage was a bit of a guessing game.

Take the story of Sarah Jane Moore and her dog, Charlie. Charlie was adopted after being hit by a car on Interstate 20.

Following several surgeries, Charlie is a different dog. She even has her own Instagram account with her little brother, Oscar.

Both get to come to work with Moore, who is a vet tech at Care More Animal Hospital. Moore knew Oscar's history, but not Charlie's, so she gave her a DNA test to check if she could be sensitive to any drugs or susceptible to genetic conditions.

"Plus, I was interested to see what she was mixed with,” Moore said. “What makes her -- her."

But how accurate are these tests? We put two of them to the test. Wisdom Panel, like Moore used, and DNA My Dog.

And yes, we used our family dog, Hamilton, to help! My family adopted sweet Hamilton back in February. The Aiken County Animal Shelter called him a "retriever mix," but both of these tests promise to be a lot more detailed. Both say they can give me a breed profile complete with percentages -- say, if he's 5 or 75 percent Labrador retriever.

Both tests required two samples each, so a total of four. All we had to do was place the swab between the cheek and gum of the dog and rub it against the inner surface of the dog’s cheek in a circular motion for 20 seconds.

DNA My Dog’s swab looked like a giant Q-tip while Wisdom Panel’s used bristles. But the concept was the same – cell collection. Even though the process was not Hamilton’s favorite thing ever, he was still a good sport.

We still had to do a little work online, registering his test and answering a few questions like his age, weight, and whether or not he was neutered. One of the websites even asked for a photo.

We then put the samples in a box and mailed them off. Both tests promised to have results back in two weeks.

As for Charlie, Moore found out exactly what she wanted to know from the test.

"She is 75 percent American Stafforshire terrier, 12.5 percent Chow Chow, and 12.5 percent mixed breed,” Moore said.

Which is right in line with what she thought. And for the most part, tests have seemed pretty accurate for her puppy patients, too.

But what about Hamilton? Tune in next week!

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