In recent years, DNA testing has become increasingly popular among dog owners, shedding light on the genetic makeup of our canine companions and revolutionising our understanding of what makes our pets so unique.
Last year, we DNA tested Phoebe and were stunned at the results, which you can read in full here. Although we know both of Frank’s parents, I was still incredibly curious about his breed mix and the genetic mysteries that shape his appearance, behaviour and health.
We decided to get another Wisdom Panel DNA test for Frank, and the results revealed an intriguing and somewhat surprising blend of breeds that contribute to his unique personality and physical characteristics.
Why DNA test your dog?
Before we get into Frank’s results, I wanted to share why we decided to DNA test our dogs, as it can be quite controversial. For some owners, their response to canine ancestry tests is very much ‘why does it matter? You’ll love your dog either way’ – and it’s true. It doesn’t matter whatsoever the results return as, I’ll love my dogs just the same.
However, understanding the breeds present in your dog’s genetic makeup can help you appreciate their distinctive traits, temperament, and potential health risks associated with certain breeds, while it can also strengthen the bond you share with your furry companion by allowing you to better understand their behaviour and individual needs when it comes to things like nutrition and exercise.
Why Wisdom Panel?
We chose a Wisdom Panel DNA test for Frank because we found it so simple and user-friendly when we used it the first time around. The test kit contains everything you need to collect a DNA sample from your dog, including detailed instructions, cheek swabs, and a postage-paid envelope. The process is straightforward and can be completed in just a few minutes using the clear instructions that mean even first-time users can confidently collect a sample without any hassle.
Wisdom Panel’s DNA test also offers an extensive breed database, covering over 350 breeds, types, and varieties as well as insights into potential health risks and inherited traits for things such as coat colour, length, and type, shedding tendencies, and even genetic markers related to exercise-induced collapse and drug sensitivities.
Using state-of-the-art genetic analysis techniques and continuous database updates, the Wisdom Panel tests are renowned for their accuracy compared to similar home kits on the market – although it must be noted that they’re not 100% reliable, but offer a pretty good indication of your dog’s genetic makeup. Wisdom Panel’s results are said to be more than 98% accurate, reporting your pup’s breed mix down to 1%.
We also found Wisdom Panel to be one of the most affordable on the market, with their Essential kit costing £89.99, while similar tests from Embark are over £100. They’re also regularly reduced on Amazon, currently priced at £77.99.
Taking the test
The test kit comes with two packaged swabs and a handy instruction book. The DNA test requires owners to swab their dog’s cheek for 15 seconds with one swab, and the other cheek for 15 seconds with the other.
Frank was as good as gold when taking the test, and it was over in less than a minute. We were then able to let the swabs dry in a glass before inserting them back into their packaging and into the prepaid envelope. It really is as simple as that.
I popped the envelope in a postbox, and I received email updates when they sample had arrived and when it was being processed, and in less than three weeks, Frank’s results were in.
Frank’s DNA test results
I was super excited to open the email from Wisdom Panel that contained Frank’s results. Phoebe’s results saw four breeds in her genetics, so I was surprised to see that Frank had seven – particularly when we know his mum and dad, a Staffy cross and American Bulldog.
Here is a breakdown of Frank’s results@
- 35 per cent Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- 32 per cent American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff)
- 24 per cent American Bulldog
- 3 per cent Bulldog
- 3 per cent Boxer
- 2 per cent Bullmastiff
- 1 per cent Dogue de Bordeaux
Wisdom Panel then allows you to read up about the breeds in your dog’s DNA, with all of Frank’s coming from the ‘guard’ category. These fact files provide information such as dog’s ideal weight and average height, as well as their lifespan.
Frank’s largest breed percentage was the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, quickly followed by the AmStaff, which can be attributed to his unwavering loyalty, and strong, muscular physique.
Speaking about Staffies, Wisdom Panel says: “The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a loving, affectionate breed. Though protective of their family, these active dogs are usually very friendly toward children and strangers. Staffordshire Bull Terriers have playful, curious natures and love spending time with their people,” which describes are incredibly loving boy to a tee.
The least surprising finding in Frank’s results was his American Bulldog roots, considering my brother owns his dad, Winston. But what I was surprised at was that it wasn’t a larger percentage, which has made us now pretty keen to DNA test Winston for his genetics, too.
Wisdom Panel said: “American Bulldogs are powerful, alert, and self-confident dogs that demonstrate endurance and agility. Though they are known to be affectionate, loyal, and fun-loving companions that form stable bonds with their family members, American Bulldogs also have strong protective instincts.”
This part of his DNA aligns with Frank’s playful and energetic nature, as well as his general zest for life and tireless enthusiasm. We always joke about his agility as he is so bendy it’s like he’s made of rubber, and while he doesn’t display protective instincts often, he very much does when push comes to shove, which is very reassuring.
Gentle Giants in the depths of Frank’s genetic code include a small amount of bullmastiff and Dogue de Bordeaux, which were not breeds I was expecting to see show in his results. These breeds are renowned for their protective instincts and gentle demeanour, with the latter being described as the perfect pup ‘you can pamper with cuddles and kisses’ – which is something Frank dutifully obliges on a daily basis.
Finally, the traces of Bulldog and Boxer surely contribute to Frank’s expressive face, distinctive snout, and endearing wrinkling eyebrows. I can definitely see a bit of Boxer in him in both his looks and personality, particularly when he’s got the zoomies.
What else do the DNA test results show?
Frank’s DNA test results show that, at the time of writing, he has seven relatives that share between 5 per cent and 19 per cent DNA with him, and a further 36 who share less than five per cent.
This automatically updates when more dogs enter the database, which means we can be constantly updated on any dogs remotely related to Frank, and see things like their age and appearance. One of Frank’s ‘extended’ relatives is over the age of 11, so it offers some reassurance that Frank will be with us for many years to come.
Wisdom Panel also detected one notable genetic variant in Frank’s DNA for something called von Willebrand’s Disease, type one.
Wisdom Panel explained: “Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD) type one is a clotting disorder that usually causes mild bleeding tendencies in affected dogs though some may have more severe signs. The low level of von Willebrand’s factor impacts the blood’s clotting ability.
“Frank has one copy of this mutation, and is therefore at low risk of showing signs of this disease. Dogs with two copies of the von Willebrand’s Disease, type one mutation are at highest risk of being affected by this condition. However there are reports that some dogs with one copy of this mutation go on to show disease signs. “Blood clotting is a complex process. This mutation can lead to a tendency for excessive bleeding because it results in low levels of von Willebrand’s factor, a component of the clotting pathway. This problem may be seen in Frank, and should be considered when caring for Frank, especially if a surgical procedure is required.”
Furthermore, they tested Frank for a number of genetic traits, which returned mostly things we already know about him, such as his possible dark muzzle, brindle colouring and amber eyes, and also gave us an indication of his ideal weight, which ranges from 21kg to 35kg.
Embarking on this DNA testing journey for both of my dogs has provided me with invaluable insights into their background, enabling me to tailor his care and understand his specific needs better.
The genetic knowledge we’ve gained has both satisfied my curiosity and also deepened my appreciation for their uniqueness. Frank’s DNA test results serve as a reminder of the beautiful tapestry that makes up each dog’s genetic story, and what makes them so different and individual.
So, if you’ve ever wondered about your dog’s genetic secrets, you can try out the Wisdom Panel DNA test for yourself here.