14 min read

We Tried A Dog DNA Test And It Might Be The Most Fun Thing Money Can Buy

Here's why it's the ultimate bonding activity 👯‍♀️

Embark Breed + Health Kit

Why We Love It:

It’s a great way to learn a little more about your dog. It also flags any potential health conditions that could pop up because of your pup’s DNA.

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If you adopted your pup, you’ve probably always had an idea of what breed you think your dog is, but never known what she actually is.

Plenty of our Dodo pup parents are in the same boat, so we had some of them test out the Embark Breed + Health dog DNA test kit to see if they could actually learn more about their BFFs.

Well the results are in, and here’s why it earned our Dodo dogs’ Paw of Approval.

What Is The Embark Breed + Health Kit?

The Embark Breed + Health Kit is a dog DNA test that’s designed to help you learn more about your pup’s breed, ancestry and overall health.

According to Embark, the kit also gives you access to the “world’s only canine relative finder,” which means it can pinpoint other dogs who are your pup’s direct relatives.

It’s super easy to use — you simply swab the inside of your dog’s cheek, ship the sample back to Embark (return shipping is free if you’re in the continental U.S.) and wait impatiently for your results!

The Judges

We picked three lovable, mysterious mixes (whose backgrounds have been the subject of a lot of debate in the Dodo office).

Lucy
Lucy
Lucy is a 4-year-old, fluffy-but-solid mix of this and that. She’s a sweet, gentle soul and her favorite things are belly rubs and walks in the park.” — her mom, Jane Yum
Hilary
Hilary
“Hilary is a rescue from Badass Brooklyn. She is rather timid and shy and loves a good cuddle on the couch.” — her mom, Lauren Hector
Franklin
Franklin
“We adopted him when he was 3 months old, and he is the best dog. Sweet, well-behaved and playful. He loves the beach, chasing balls and sticks and going on epic hikes.” — his mom, Lily Ladewig

So … Did The Results Match Our Guesses?

Two of our three pet parents said the results confirmed a few of their guesses — but they were also excited to learn some new things, too.

“The rescue org told me she was a Shih Tzu-poodle mix and I wasn't sure, but Embark confirmed she's mostly Shih-poo!” — Jane Y.

“Our whole family is thrilled to know that Franklin is half Australian cattle dog and half pittie mix. This is almost exactly what we had expected, but we were pleasantly surprised to learn he is also 5% German shepherd.” — Lily L.

Some of the results were totally unexpected.

“We were able to find out Hilary was 28% chow chow, 22% Labrador retriever and 14% pit bull terrier — super surprising considering we were told she was a hound mix the whole time we've had her.” — Lauren H.

“Lucy’s a significant amount of Chihuahua, and a bit of every other breed that I didn't expect.” — Jane Y.

Embark even matched a couple of our pups with some relatives, too!

“We also found a relative match, whose owner I messaged through the Embark website, and we learned that our dogs are littermates!” — Lily L.

“It was a cute touch to include other Embark dogs that may be related to Lucy! We didn't find any direct family members, the closest was a 16% match — a first cousin — but nice to know maybe there will be a closer match in the future.” — Jane Y.

The kit also gave our pet parents a bit more information about their pups’ health, which turned out to be a super useful surprise.

“I didn't realize this was part of the product feature, but getting the health data based on Hilary's DNA was not something I expected, but was incredibly informative!” — Lauren H.

“I didn't even realize they would reveal the genetics behind Lucy’s physical traits, her predicted adult weight (spot on!) and her likely appetite and food-motivation level!” — Jane Y.

Dog with Embark DNA test
Lucy with the Embark Health + Breed kit. | Jane Yum

What Pets Loved: Being Bribed With Treats!

Dogs aren’t the biggest fans of having things they can’t eat stuck in their mouths, but our pups didn’t seem to put up much of a fight against the swab.

Lucy didn't love the cheek swab, but she didn't hate it either. She just seemed a bit confused, like, ‘Why are you swirling this non-treat thing inside my mouth?’” — Jane Y.

Their favorite part was getting a tasty treat after, so it all worked out.

While Franklin didn't love getting his mouth swabbed, he did like the treat that Embark encouraged us to give him as a reward.” — Lily L.

What Parents Loved: Learning More About Their BFFs!

Our pet parents were thrilled to find out about their dogs’ genetic makeup. It even felt like a bonding experience.

“I loved this whole process and learning about Hilary. It makes you feel even closer to your pup than you were before by having a better idea of what makes them, them!” — Lauren H.

“We loved learning more about our dog's history, having more insight into his personality and health and reconnecting with his littermate.” — Lily L.

Another plus? Our tester panel said the kit was really easy to use, and only took minutes.

“Embark has a VERY clear step-by-step instruction process when you open the box. The whole process took no more than 10 minutes.” — Lauren H.

“It was super easy. The whole thing took 10 minutes, and then I dropped it off in the mailbox on my next walk with Lucy.” — Jane Y.

The website was super simple to navigate, too, once they got their results.

“The website is easy to navigate and makes it fun to dig into the results, but also love that they offer an easy pdf download option for you and your vet.” — Jane Y.

Dog with DNA test kit
The kit had very clear step-by-step instructions. | Jane Yum

Any Downsides?

The price was a main issue for our judging panel.

“I've always wanted to do the DNA test, but was always hesitant to spend the money and the time.” — Lauren H.

The Embark Health + Breed DNA kit costs a healthy $199 (but you can get $50 off with our exclusive code DODO50). While it comes with a steep price tag, our pet parents agreed that it’s an appropriate cost for what you get — especially since it’s a one-time purchase.

(There’s also a lower-priced Embark Breed Kit at $129, though this doesn’t include health information.)

“It's priced right, as it's competitive to [how] the market is pricing these products and for the value.” — Lauren H.

“I thought it was reasonable, especially since it's just a one-time cost. I initially was thinking I'd just do the breed test, but having done this more comprehensive one (breed + health), I think the extra money for the health analysis is worth it!” — Jane Y.

Of course, our pet parents also didn’t love the waiting game — but just because they were dying to know more about their BFFs!

“I didn’t like the waiting time because we were so excited to learn the results, but that couldn't be helped.” — Lily L.

“It does take a while to get back the results, but Embark does a great job of keeping you updated on status with frequent emails.” — Jane Y.

“I was pleasantly surprised at how often they kept me updated via email. I was notified every step of the way.” — Lauren H.

And while all the pet parents loved the process and getting their results back, Lauren wished she had gotten a little more information.

“They couldn't quite define what her parents were since they were clearly mutts themselves. It would have been even more interesting if we could have understood the makeup of her parents, but instead we got more detail on the grandparent and great-grandparent front.” — Lauren H.

In spite of these things, our entire judging panel would recommend this kit to their friends.

Our Takeaway: A Little Pricey But Totally Worth It

The Embark Health + Breed Kit is a great way to make some lifetime memories with your pup — and finally find out if she’s actually what you think she is!

Based on the ease of use, accurate (and surprising!) results and overall excitement our testers got from using the kit, it definitely earns our Paw of Approval.

(If you buy directly from Embark, don't forget to use our code DODO50 for $50 off!)

The Dodo may receive complimentary samples to test in our Paw of Approval program, but all our opinions are 100 percent our own. We only publish endorsements of products we (and our dogs and cats) absolutely love! You can find out more about our testing process here.

If you have a product you love that you want to share with other pet parents, send a tip to dodopaw@thedodo.com.

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