This dog DNA test helped me get a better insight into my dog’s health and origins

Embark is a dog DNA test that you can take at home to determine your dog’s breed and check for over 175 genetic health conditions and traits among other fun facts.

Whether your dog is a mixed breed — and you’ve been guessing his or her precise origins ever since you two met — or if you’re dealing with health problems, there is now a way to get very detailed science-based insights into your dog’s DNA.

The team from a startup called Embark has partnered with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (the leading veterinary school in the United States) and a pioneer in consumer genetics — Spencer Wells — to combine cutting-edge science and pet care.

The DNA test they’ve developed together provides dog parents with the following:

  • what breed is your dog,

  • what are potential health risks you should look out for,

  • and other fun facts like how big your dog will grow and who are the closest relatives.

They’re all about getting to know dogs even better — they even discovered why some dogs have blue eyes.

How accurate is Embark dog DNA test?

Embark makes the world’s most accurate dog DNA test. The test uses 200,000 genetic markers and 100 times more genetic information than its competitors. It checks for over 250 different breed types and 175-plus genetic health conditions.

How the dog DNA test works?

It’s very simple and you can do it from anywhere in the world. You order the test online and activate your account. When you receive the DNA testing kit you simply follow the instructions inside and swab the cheek of your dog. Then mail the saliva sample back to the Embark lab in a return envelope (it’s pre-paid for US customers but we’re from Europe so we had to pay for the return shipping). In two to four weeks, you receive the results. 

There are a few reasons why I decided to try the Embark dog DNA test on my Maltese dog Gino.

  • The most important was his health condition: he’s been dealing with allergies and all sorts of other stuff ever since he was a puppy so I wanted to know anything that could help us with the treatment.
  • The second reason was to find out if he’s purebred Maltese — he has all the papers but his fur is a bit beige which is unusual for Maltese dogs.
  • And the last reason was that I simply like to try out new things 🙂

If you keep scrolling down to the bottom of this article, you can see the exact steps we went through.

You can take the Embark DNA test from anywhere in the world: you simply take the sample of your dog’s saliva and send the swab back to the lab! Photo: Nasti Susnjara/Dog Insider

The Embark dog DNA test is not exactly cheap at $199, but the information you get can improve or even extend the life of your dog — and for most dog parents (me for sure!), that’s not a bad price to pay. 

Honestly, I would pay even more now that I see the value of these insights.

I think all in all this test is a great tool and something many dog parents would be interested in. At least anyone I’ve told about it so far got really excited!

Our dogs are family members and I believe any chance we get to better understand them and then better take care of them is worth taking.

Our experience and Gino's results

In the video above you can see what the whole experience with swabbing looked like. It was fun for both of us! Gino thought we were playing and I felt like I was back at the high-school chemistry lab.

It took about 4 weeks for results to arrive. What I liked a lot were the email updates from Embark — they were sending us an update for every step of the process so I always knew what was going on.

The breed breakdown is probably one of Embark's most popular features. It shows you breeds and percentages, as well as the family tree

This part is maybe not the most representative example since Gino is 100% purebred Maltese. But it was important news for me and a confirmation of what we knew before. It seems Maltese dogs can be a bit beige after all!

Embark tests your dog for over 175 genetic health conditions and traits

This was the most important part of the test for me. After screening for over 175 genetic conditions, the test showed one health condition we should be aware of. We already discussed it with our vet and this insight will help her determine quickly and accurately what’s going on if Gino becomes sick in the future. It might also prevent prescribing medications Gino may be sensitive to.

Embark makes it very easy to share the Health Report with your vet by clicking "SEND VET REPORT" to input your vet's name and email address. They'll get a copy.

Embark also analyses your dog's traits and predicts coat color, shedding, body size, and many other things

Here you can dig deeper into specific traits of your dog. You can check out genes that show what kind of fur your dog has, how much does she or he shed (this is the part you probably know already!) and many other things, among them your dog’s projected size for example. This is useful if you, for example, rescued a puppy and have no idea how big he or she is going to grow!

Least but not last, we found Gino's relatives!

With Embark’s growing popularity there are more and more dogs taking their tests which means an ever-expanding database. That makes it possible for their system to connect you with dogs that share the same DNA as your dog!

Even though we live in Europe, Gino’s parents were imported from the United States. So it was no surprise that his relatives come from there too.

Interested in trying the DNA test on your dog?

You can order your own Embark test kit here.

Embark Breed + Health DNA Kit


I hope this review expanded your view a bit and showed you how you can use a DNA test to learn more about your dog’s origins and health.

Have you tried already? Do you have any other questions for us?

Let us know in the comments below!

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