Frequently Asked Questions

How is “genome wide” testing different than testing for specific genetic diseases?

Most other dog DNA tests only tell you if your dog has a specific genetic mutation — for English Shepherds,  commonly checked mutations include MDR-1, CEA, PRA-prcd, and DM.  The testing available from Embark provides all of that and more.  Embark uses a research-grade DNA testing platform developed by researchers at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.  Instead of getting information on just one or two genes, genome-wide analysis looks at hundreds of thousands of genetic markers.  The report on your dog will include information on over 160 genetic conditions as well as information on genetic traits, level of inbreeding, and ancestry information.  In addition, the information from your dog’s DNA will contribute to research aimed at ending preventable disease.

How does testing my dog help the breed?

Your dog’s information helps the breed by supporting research that will protect breed health.  Some of the specific studies possible include:

  • Genetic diversity study
  • Identifying kinship patterns
  • Identifying breed-specific genetic mutations
  • Information for breeders

In addition to these benefits for the breed as a whole, as a dog owner you will receive information on traits linked to health and a report that can be forwarded to your veterinarian as a part of your dog’s medical record.

Is there any point in testing a spayed/neutered dog?

Yes!  The DNA information collected from your dog is added to a research database (personal identifying information is removed) that is connected to health and behavior surveys that you can fill out.  Combining the information on your dog’s health and behavior with the analysis of their genome will enable researchers to find the connections between genes and particular traits.  It takes information from large numbers of dogs to find these connections.  The more dogs that participate in this research, the sooner researchers will be able to focus in on the key differences that account for genetic disease.

What does testing my dog involve?

The test itself consists of a simple cheek swab.  The DNA testing kit comes with an instruction card that describes how to collect the sample.  You simply swab the inside of your dog’s cheek, put the swab in the test tube provided, and mail it back to Embark in the pre-stamped envelope that comes with the kit.

Test Your Dog

Testing kits are available at cost from the English Shepherd Breed Conservancy as a part of our research partnership with Embark.

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