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Review from a Biologist
on November 27, 2011
I thought it might prove beneficial for people to read a review from someone who essentially does genotyping(this test) as part of his job.
I ordered this test because we purchased a dog from the pound and had no clue what breed she was. The test is a pretty simple one, providing you with two q-tips that allow you to gather DNA from your dogs cheek. You essentially get two chances to acquire decent DNA to send to them, so make sure they count. This is the first point where I felt the instructions could have been better. Contaminating DNA is easy, and many people who complain are most likely contaminating their DNA and then wondering why it's getting false calls.
The instructions remind you to not feed your dog 2 hours prior to doing the test, what the instructions DO NOT tell you is that you also shouldn't let your dog chew on anything like a dogbone, lick anyone, or genuinely be allowed to touch anything. Any of these acts could potentially hurt results, and while unlikely, can cause a great deal of these errors. I would personally recommend giving the dog some water, then taking the water away and quarantining the dog for 2-3 hours without anything. Put him in a crate or spare room if you have to, make sure she/he has nothing they can lick, eat, or chew. Then take the dog out, and make sure they don't start licking your hands while you are trying to give the test. It also would be a wise decision to wash your hands thoroughly before using the test, and never let the qtip touch anything but the dogs mouth and the inside of the plastic piece it is placed in.
The second thing I wanted to mention is with regards to how genotyping works. Essentially, the "testers" have positive controls which show a spread of bands they picture. They run the DNA through something called PCR in order to search for markers(bands) present in your dog, usually indicated by size. Dirty DNA can lead to bad bands, hard to read bands, and in the long run, bad calls. What many people don't realize is that the test only determines how much a dog is of a certain breed. These means that if the dog turns out to be 25% beagle, this DOES NOT mean one of the grand parents was a 100% beagle. This means that your dog has 25% beagle in him, which could theoretically be possible if you have two half beagles breed. Also note that recessive genes carry through, so even though all the dogs they determined in your lineage are big dogs, this in no way means your dog can't be small or vice versa. So just because 50% of your dog is Great Dane, yet your dog looks like a poodle, doesn't necessarily mean the test failed, as you have 50% of your potentially dominant DNA unaccounted for from any number of breeds. Likewise, a dog could have a parent with 50% beagle and end up with essentially no beagle in them. This is simple genetics. In reality, two dogs, both 50% beagle could theoretically have a dog with no significant beagle DNA, or a dog with 100% beagle DNA(although unlikely as the genes that make up a breed are a little more complex than a punnett square)..
This test DOES NOT determine lineage... merely the higher percentages of DNA present in the animal. They might call them "parents" and "grandparents", but that is just a reference for "has X% DNA" and has no baring on what the parentage is. This also means that any breed that makes up less than app. 12.5% of your animal simply doesn't show up. So a true heinz 57 dog with 20 breed of dog in it's genetic makeup would render no result.Furthermore, there is no way to determine what your dogs parents are, unless your dog turns out to be exactly 50% one breed and 50% the other.
If you strongly disagree with the results of your test, I'd highly recommend that you call the company or amazon and demand a replacement test. If they refuse to offer one, then file a credit card dispute and get your money back however you can. If you retake the test and receive the same results, it might be about time to start reconsidering how you see your dog. If the results differ, you can always question them on the differing results and get to the source of "which one is right", which might even include a 3rd test. Don't be angry if you need to repeat this test three times (presuming they are willing to provide you free kits twice). All this is doing is confirming the information and reinforcing your data, which is always a plus in science.
So that is my two cents on the subject. With respect to my dog, we adopted her under the belief it was a border collie lab mix. However, over the course of a year, it seemed to lose any border collie appearance and my wife wondered if the dog possessed any pitbull in her due to people often believing she is a pitbull. Turns out there was no breeds associated with pitbull in her, at least none over 12.5%. The test is what it is. The report is well done. I would have appreciated more information regarding how the test is done and what genes they are testing for, and in truth, I am tempted to call them and see if they can tell me and maybe even provide me the data from my animals test upon request. I suppose I can forgive them for not including that data, as it would most likely just clutter things and make them confusing to read, although I am curious as to how well their lab keeps a record and would I be able to obtain my dog's data on request.