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DNA Testing for Pets

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 25 Jan 2018 | comments*Discuss
Dna Pets Testing Forensics Criminals

DNA testing for humans has progressed rapidly for everything from disease prediction testing to paternity and forensics. It might come as a surprise to find out that pets can also receive DNA testing. In fact, the applications are actually quite similar to those used for human DNA testing.

Determining a Dog's Breed

Just as DNA testing is performed to determine paternity in custody cases and similar applications, it has also become a desired test for pets. DNA testing is done to determine the breed composition of dogs. It only requires a simple swab inside a dog's cheek and the sample is then analysed over the course of approximately one to two months. You might be wondering why it would be important for someone to learn the breed composition of their dog. Actually, there are several very valid reasons for this type of DNA testing in pets.

Most dog owners do not have full records or reliable information regarding the familial history of their pet. An owner with a dog that has different breeds in its background can now find out their dog's pedigree. Once they have determined the familial background of their dog, they can provide this information to a veterinarian who can tailor preventative treatment to the pet.

Dogs in Animal Shelters

Another useful application is that animal shelters can now provide accurate information to potential dog owners when they inquire about a specific breed. With millions of dogs adopted from shelters each year, this information is often important for a prospective owner to have before bringing their new pet home. One company in the United States has offered DNA pet services for a number of years now, with most geared at prominent dog registries such as the American Kennel Club. It is, however, more recently that these services have also been extended to the general public.

DNA Pet Testing for Crime Scenes

Most of us are probably familiar with the concept of forensics testing at crime scenes. The smallest bit of hair or skin cells left at a crime scene can allow investigators to identify a suspect by their DNA. Yet, many forensic scientists are now using DNA technology to obtain pet evidence left at a crime scene. There is sometimes saliva, hair or even faeces left from an animal, which can ultimately help investigators to narrow in on the perpetrator of a crime. One interesting case described by a lab based in the United States involved dog faeces, which was stuck to the sole of a murder suspect's boot. The dog faeces were discovered nearby the crime scene and it was an integral part of convicting the murderer.

One other case involved a victim of sexual assault. She was unable to identify her attacker in a line-up but she was able to recall that her dog had actually used the perpetrator's vehicle as a 'toilet,' leaving urine across the vehicle. By matching the dog's DNA with DNA found on the vehicle, investigators were able to conclusively identify the man responsible for the assault. In fact, the evidence was solid enough that he eventually pleaded guilty to the crime.

DNA testing for pets is an interesting and valuable area of DNA technology, although still perhaps a largely unknown one. No doubt, as technology progresses for human DNA testing, testing applications for animals will similarly improve, providing helpful and important uses for a variety of applications.

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We are in a condo that has approximately 20 dog owners. Sometimes we find urine on the walls where a dog has had an accident. None of the owners will admit that it was their dog. We would like to be able to identify the breed of the dog that had the accident. Can you help?
Edg - 25-Jan-18 @ 8:34 PM
Hello. I wondered if was possible to identify a deceased cat if I have a sample of the tail fur and I have the sister of the deceased cat.Thank you.
Buddy - 10-Oct-17 @ 9:16 AM
we need dna of a pets ashes please
jane - 18-Aug-16 @ 9:22 AM
A really interesting article... Thank you. I wonder if someone might be able to answer the following questions. 1. - What system is most commonly used for profiling? Is it based on AmpFLP or sequencing? 2. From what you have written, it seems that it is possible to produce a profile from dog urine, something that cannot be done with human urine. Why the difference? Travis
Travis - 10-Oct-15 @ 10:26 AM
where can i get a kit to test my dogs dna.it is supposed to be a yorkie
jim - 9-Sep-12 @ 12:34 AM
Hello, I would like to know if it is possible to determine a dogs breed with a hairsample. If yes, where could I get such a test?? I would greatly appreciate an answer back. Thanks in advance.
Rudolph - 3-Aug-11 @ 8:47 AM
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