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Embark Dog DNA Test Review 2024: Pros, Cons & Verdict

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Embark Breed & Ancestry Identification

Our Final Verdict

We give Embark Dog DNA Test a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Accuracy - 4.7/5
Ease of Use - 4.8/5
Comprehensiveness - 4.8/5
Value - 4/5

What Is Embark Dog DNA Test? How Does It Work?

Regardless of whether you want to verify that your Golden Retriever truly is purebred or if you’re just curious about the various strands of genetic material swirling around inside your mutt, using the Embark Dog DNA Test can open up a whole new world of appreciation for your pooch.

It’s more than just a curiosity-satisfier, though. The test can also alert you to a host of potential genetic conditions that your dog could be susceptible to, allowing you to be on the lookout for symptoms long before they start. This could allow you to spot something like cancer in the early stages, giving your dog the best chance to fight the disease and win.

There are several different doggy DNA tests on the market, but Embark is the only one backed by Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. That means you’ll enjoy the benefits of cutting-edge science in each box, and you can be reasonably certain that the results are accurate.

Of course, not everyone really cares about what type of dog they have, and others aren’t willing to shell out $100 to find out. But if you have the spare change and the driving urge to know as much about your dog as possible, Embark’s DNA test is one of the best ways to put your mind at ease.

Embark Breed & Ancestry Identification

Where to Get the Embark Dog DNA Test?

If you’re interested in putting your dog’s genetic material under the microscope, the one good place to find the test is on Embark’s official website. You’ll be certain to get an authentic test, and it’s much easier to deal with its labs when you’ve been dealing with them all along.

You can also easily find the test on Amazon or Chewy.

divider 9Embark Dog DNA Test — A Quick Look

  • Easy to use
  • Analyzes over 200,000 genetic markers
  • Checks for 350 different breed types
  • Screens for over 170 genetic health conditions
  • Backed by leading veterinary school
  • On the pricey side
  • Health test sold separately
  • Takes up to 5 weeks to get results
Embark Breed & Ancestry Identification

Embark Dog DNA Test Pricing

You’re dealing with one of the best labs in the country for this sort of thing, so as you might expect, these tests aren’t cheap. There are actually two different tests that you can buy: the breed finder and genetic health screener (or to be exact, the health screener can be purchased as an add-on).

You’ll pay a little over $100 for the breed finder and almost double that if you want the genetic health screener added. This isn’t pocket change that you’re dealing with, and it’s hard to justify shelling out for the health screener because the breed finder is little more than a novelty.

What to Expect From the Embark Dog DNA Test

The test is fairly simple and so is the packaging. You’ll get a simple box with a cheek swab, instructions, and a return envelope inside. All you have to do is rub the swab on the soft tissue inside your pup’s mouth, put it in the envelope, and send it in.

It’s all quite easy to do (assuming that your dog cooperates, of course), and you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed or confused at any point in the process. If you screw something up, though, don’t worry — Embark provides replacement swabs for free.

Embark Dog DNA Test Contents

All you get in the box are:
  • A cheek swab
  • Detailed instructions
  • Prepaid return envelope

You’ll have to activate your kit before you send it in (instructions for how to do this are in the manual). How long does Embark take? The whole process shouldn’t take more than a few minutes — on your end, anyway.

Embark Breed & Ancestry Identification

The Embark DNA Test Is Extremely Thorough

The company claims to analyze over 200,000 genetic markers, which gives it roughly 100 times more genetic information than many of its competitors. This in turn, gives you some of the most accurate information that you’ll find anywhere.

It’s not foolproof, though. The breed results are sometimes wonky, although that seems to happen less than with other DNA tests. Also, just because your dog has traces of a certain breed in their DNA doesn’t mean you’ll see any visible signs of that breed in their appearance or behavior, so take all this information with a grain of salt.

They Provide Plenty of Health Information

The panel screens for over 170 genetic health conditions. You’ll be notified if your pet tests positive for something that you should be concerned about, and it also provides clinical information that’s designed to be shared with your vet so they can properly customize your dog’s care.

As with the breed information, though, this shouldn’t be treated as gospel. While it’s always nice to have a heads-up that your dog might be predisposed to a certain condition, there’s no guarantee that they’ll eventually develop it.

Embark Offers a Canine Relative Finder

Much like human DNA panels, Embark allows you to find any of your dog’s relatives that have also completed the test.

This may seem like merely another novelty (unless your pup really misses their great-aunt Gertrude), but it can come in handy if you decide to contact the other owners. You can swap notes about your respective dogs’ behavioral traits and any health issues that you’ve encountered, allowing you both to better prepare for the future.

Don’t worry about someone showing up at your door, though. The only way to contact these owners is through the site’s chat function, so they won’t get any private information unless you share it with them.Embark Breed & Ancestry Identification

It Takes Time to Get Your Results

While it only takes a few minutes to complete the test, you’ll have to wait 3-5 weeks from the time that the lab receives the samples to get your results back.

This is due to a variety of factors, including how thorough the tests are and how popular this particular kit is. At the end of the day, accuracy is much more important than speed, but it would still be nice to get the information sooner rather than later.

Is Embark Dog DNA Test a Good Value?

The answer to this question depends on how you define “value.” Embark is not a budget DNA test — in fact, it’s one of the pricier ones out there.

However, it’s also one of the most thorough and accurate. We can’t speak for you, but we’d rather pay more for results that we can trust than get a great deal of questionable information. In that respect, we think Embark is an excellent value.

It’s also worth noting that the upfront costs represent all the costs. You don’t have to pay additional lab fees or anything like that, so what you see is what you get when it comes to the price tag. You don’t even have to pay for shipping when sending your samples in.

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What breeds does Embark test for?

The panel includes information for over 350 breeds, which it says covers 98% of all dogs. Unless you have an extremely rare breed, your pup will likely be covered. It even tests for things like wolf or coyote DNA.

How many dogs can I test with each order?

Each Embark box has enough materials to test a single dog. If you want to test your entire pack, you’ll need to buy a test for each one of them. It does offer discount codes for buying in bulk, though.

Will it test for allergies?

No. At this time, the technology doesn’t exist to identify allergies based on DNA samples.

How will my results be delivered?

All of your results will be contained in an online document that lays out exactly what the test found, as well as what the results mean. You’ll also get a printable PDF document that allows you to share the information with your vet (or a neighbor, if you like).

What happens if I mess up the test?

The test is simple, so it’s difficult to mess it up. However, if for some reason, the lab can’t use your sample, it’ll alert you to the problem and mail you a free replacement right away.

Will the test diagnose diseases?

No. All it can do is identify genetic markers that make certain conditions more likely. If you want to know if your dog is currently suffering from any diseases, you’ll have to ask your vet.

Is my information safe?

Your personal information (and your dog’s) is completely safe, and Embark won’t sell it or share it with anyone. However, some of their data will be aggregated in a non-identifiable way and shared with research facilities in order to help spur scientific progress. You can opt out of this if you prefer, however.

What the Users Say

Doggy DNA tests have become quite popular in recent years, so there are many user reviews and feedback sections to draw on when making a buying decision. We took a look at what pet owners are saying about Embark and how it compares to similar screening panels.

Most of the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. By and large, owners are confident in the results that they’ve received, and those who have performed multiple DNA tests often rank Embark as the most trustworthy.

People also like how easy it is to use the kit and how simple and intuitive the results are. They feel closer to their dogs after using this, and they’re confident that they have a better understanding of their pup’s origins.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any complaints, however. Price is a major sticking point, as many people question whether it’s truly worth $100 or more to find out your dog’s breed. However, these complaints are relatively infrequent, as the people who buy dog DNA tests usually aren’t price-sensitive when it comes to their pets.

The genetic health information isn’t without controversy either. While you’ll find plenty of stories about owners who used this information to catch and treat illnesses early, you’ll also find those who never encountered the conditions that the test warned them about. These people often feel that they were made to worry for nothing.

Ultimately, we feel that many of the complaints are indictments of dog DNA tests in general rather than Embark in particular. We completely understand if you don’t see the value in a canine genetic screening kit, but if you do, Embark is probably the best of the bunch.

Divider 3Conclusion

If you want to learn more about your dog from the inside out, then the Embark Dog DNA Test is one of the best ways to do that. It can reveal all sorts of valuable information about your pup, including their breed mix and predisposition to diseases.

The kit is pricey and takes a bit of time, but if this is a topic that interests you, it’s well worth the investment. Embark is easy to use and reliable and will fill you in on all the secrets that your dog never knew they were hiding.

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