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Embark review: A thorough, well-rounded dog DNA test

Our Rating :
£129.00 from
Price when reviewed : 129
inc VAT

The Embark DNA test sheds light on your pet’s background and health in a straightforward, comprehensive manner

Pros

  • Soft swab
  • Useful breed and health data
  • Send-to-vet feature in the results portal

Cons

  • Bulky packaging
  • Slow to receive report
  • Pre-paid sample postage only for US customers

With millions of new dog owners pounding the footpaths with their pups and swathes of rescue dogs arriving in the UK from all over Europe and Asia, dog DNA tests have never been so popular, or important. Understanding your dog better can lead to a happier, healthier life.

DNA testing company Embark offers a variety of dog DNA tests to help you better understand your pet, whether you want to know about their breed type, behavioural traits, health issues or ancestry. We put their breed and health test under the microscope to find out just how helpful it can be.

Embark dog DNA test review: How does it work?

The Embark dog DNA test is simple to use and will likely feel familiar to using a PCR or LFT for coronavirus. You swab your dog’s mouth using the tool provided – it looks like a cotton bud you might use for cleaning your ears – then pop it in a tube of liquid (also provided), screw on the cap and send it off in the post using the included prepaid addressed envelope. Before sending, you register the test online using the barcode on the packaging, and then simply wait for the results to come in via email.

Embark dog DNA test review: What do you get for your money?

You will receive everything you need for DNA testing your dog once you’ve parted with your £129, including the swab, liquid capsule, screw cap and addressed envelope. The real value, though, is in the results. You’ll get a notification via email and you can log in to the online platform to see a detailed breakdown of your dog’s results.

With the £129 breed and health test, you will get information on your dog’s most dominant breeds, health markers such as genetic diseases and breed-specific conditions, ancestry including a family tree, their ancient lineage and their physical and behavioural traits.

Embark is cheaper than the other major DNA test provider, Wisdom Panel, with the Premium service (also offering health and breed data) costing £140.

Embark dog DNA test review: What are the results like?

The results portal on the Embark website is extensive and somewhat captivating – it’s completely fascinating to see such a deep dive into your pet’s genetic makeup. Results are easy to read and split out into sections such as Breed & Ancestry, Relatives, Health and Traits. It’s all explained in easy-to-understand language, and its accuracy in our test was spot on – I tested Embark’s DNA service on a purebred Manchester Terrier and it identified his breed correctly.

Embark dog DNA test review: What does it do well?

The results portal has a wealth of information and I loved delving into the detail, such as finding relatives of my Manchester Terrier within their system and learning about his ancient ancestry – he is descended from Central Asian wolves, according to Embark.

There’s a clever “breed reveal” video which, for an unknown mixed breed dog would be fun to share, and you can download or directly send any elements of the report to friends, family or your veterinarian. I sent part of the health report to my vet, as Embark identified a gene that could change how his liver function is presented when tested, so now that my vet is aware they can assess the situation in future.

The occasional pop culture facts throughout the report are a fun touch, too, such as the assessment of Game of Thrones character Daenerys Targaryen’s coefficient of inbreeding (COI) compared with your own dog’s COI. It turns out my dog is only marginally more inbred than the queen of dragons.

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Embark dog DNA test review: How could it be improved?

The Embark DNA tests are geared towards US dog owners, with the addressed envelope only allowing for free postage if you are mailing it within the USA. I had to pay extra (around £2.50) for postage to send my swab to the United States, so a UK-focused option would be better for customers in Britain and Northern Ireland.

The packaging also felt quite bulky compared with other DNA tests, which means if it’s delivered when you’re not in, you might miss the package’s arrival as it won’t fit through the letterbox. Finally, the results were a few days slower to come back than other tests – our sample made its way to the lab on 20 September and we didn’t receive results until 14 October.

Embark dog DNA test review: Should you buy it?

If you’re looking to find out more about your dog’s breeds or have any health concerns about your pet, the Embark dog DNA test is a good investment. Its thorough results provide a well-rounded picture of your dog’s genetic makeup and will help you care better for your pet.

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