Canine dna Testing: Also known as Pawprinting (a complete guide)

Canine DNA testing is normally achieved through a small extraction of blood, hair, cheek swab or through a tissue sample…

Tests can be done through private independent laboratories and cost from $65 up to $250 but can cost even more. The benefits can be quite amazing as we will discover later on….but first lets answer some basic questions….

What does DNA stand for…? It stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid – and is the basic foundation to all genetics. Chromosomes are made up of the Deoxyribonucleic Acid which is a double strand which divides into genes.  Your dog will have from 30-40,000 different genes within the Deoxyribonucleic Acid

A double strand DNA test… DNA is made up of a double strand which is divided into 4 building blocks which are known as nucleotides. For your dog to have a disease or impaired functioning there must be a mutation within the genes.

Why is DNA important…? It is not just important it is essential to life as it carries your dog’s unique genetic heritage and can help you spot any illness that might be specific to your dog’s mixed parentage.

Canine DNA Testing in more detail…

  • Just like humans a dog’s puppies don’t always look like mum and dad so it is sometimes difficult to determine through looks and appearance whether your recently purchased mixed breed dog is actually what the breeder states it is.
  • We know of a dog owner who purchased two puppies from a breeder. They were of mixed breed, Jack Russel mixed with Border Terrier. The breeder told the person interested that they were siblings, but she wasn’t sure. With canine dna testing she would have been able to determine exactly whether they were related and whether they were from the same parents.

By taking a small extraction of blood, tissue, hair or tissue sample dog owners and breeders are now able to determine exactly what breed or mixture of breeds their dog is. This can have some great benefits in relation to the health care of your  dog or puppy….

By being able to test exactly the genetic heritage of your dog you may be able to spot possible medical problems before they occur. This is because some breeds are more prone to medical problems for example…

  • If you discover that your dog is a mixture of Labrador Retriever, Great Dane and Collie you will be aware of certain medical risks – for example Collies don’t react well to antiparasitic medications like Ivermectin.
  • Labradors are more prone to hip dysplasia and Great Danes are more prone to bone cancer. By knowing the mix of breeds in your dog in advance you can see the amazing benefits for you your dog and your vet.

Why is DNA testing so useful…?


With the relatively recent availability of DNA testing breeders and breed registries are able to not only accurately determine which breed to register correctly but to also identify which dogs to breed together to get the best result.

When we say the ‘best result’ we simply mean it enables breeders to only breed certain dogs together that are free of possible diseases or health defects common in some breeds.

DNA testing (also known as Pawprinting) is also useful for finding lost dogs (making sure that the found dog is the same as the one the owner lost). The reason for this is that DNA never changes and cant be altered. Microchips can sometimes move and migrate, a Tattoo can fade and the color of your dog can be changed through dying the color of the fur.

DNA testing is vital when it comes to artificial insemination as the breed of the parents needs to be certified.

Although the American Kennel Club does not require a DNA test for a breed to be registered it does offer a voluntary certification if the owner so wishes. However, if a dog does have his DNA tested then the American Kennel Club will use this DNA analysis for all further pedigrees and future registration certificates provided for that specific dog.

With the ongoing scientifc research progressing at a rapid rate it won’t be long before scientists will be able to determine the genetic causes of all canine diseases (scientists have already discovered how to map the canine genome). When scientists do discover the genetic causes of common diseases breeders will be able to perform simple tests that will help to eliminate any disease from their breeds blood line.