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Barli’s Embark DNA Test & Results

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Are you curious about your dog’s heritage? We recently received a Embark Dog DNA test to learn more about Barli’s background! The test was easy to run–we’ll take you through the steps to test, what an Embark DNA test can tell you about your dog–and what Barli’s DNA results were!

We received an Embark Dog DNA Test for review; all statements and opinions are entirely our own.

Obtaining the DNA Sample

Barli’s shelter guessed that he’s a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix but, of course, that’s anyone’s guess! He was found alone as a stray so there are no clues other than his physical appearance–and his DNA.

We performed a simple saliva swab test on Barli. Collection is super simple:

I activated the kit and off it went in the mail, testing over 200,000 genetic markers. Embark tests for over 350 dog breeds but it also tests for much more including the risk for over 200 genetic diseases and conditions.

We also wanted to make sure Barli doesn’t carry the MDR1 genetic mutation which would mean we need to select his heartworm preventative carefully. The MDR1 genetic mutation is just one of the many tests that Embark tests for that can be a goldmine of information for your veterinarian in terms of future treatment.

Of special importance to mixed breed dogs, Embark also tests for genetic age and genetically predicted size, helping to determine your dog’s optimum weight (and an indicator of just how much more Barli might grow!)

In the months since we adopted Barli, we made a lot of breed guesses based on his curly coat…

…his small head and face…

…and his curled tail, usually held up and over his back…

Behaviorally, he’s super smart (he learned how to ring the dog doorbells the first week in our house…without being taught!), likes to bark, loves other dogs, is really good with our cats, is a bit standoffish with new people at first then loves attention, and loves water.

My guesses included Border Collie, Poodle, Curly-Coated Retriever, Mudi, Australian Shepherd, Portuguese Water Dog, Shetland Sheepdog, and more.

But now we know–both Barli’s breeds and his health and traits. It took just a couple of weeks, and the Embark DNA results were back!

Barli’s Health and Trait Results

The first portion of the test looks at Barli’s genetic makeup and how it could potentially impact his health in the future, both his own health and, if he were to be bred (no danger there!), the risk to his offspring. Fortunately Barli came through with flying colors:

Of the 165 conditions tested for, Barli is at risk for none–what a relief!

He is a carrier for one condition:

Barli’s a carrier for Canine Multifocal Retinopathy, a nonprogressive retinal disease. Since Barli can never be bred, of course, that removes that worry. We’ve sent the Embark report to our vet so he’ll know about this, though.

We’ll also want to let our vet know that for future blood tests that read liver health, Barli’s “normal” reading is actually below normal of that found on most dogs–so what’s in the normal range for most dogs would be high for Barli due to a mutation:

Barli has two copies of a mutation associated with reduced ALT activity. Please inform your veterinarian that Barli has this genotype, as ALT is often used as an indicator of liver health and Barli is likely to have a lower than average resting ALT activity. As such, an increase in Barli’s ALT activity could be evidence of liver damage, even if it is within normal limits by standard ALT reference ranges.

While we’re certainly curious about Barli’s breed mix, I know that’s really just the fun part of this test for our own curiosity. Barli is a purebred Barli, a one-of-a-kind little fellow who has so quickly become a special part of our family. But the genetic information that Embark provided us about Barli’s health is a goldmine for us and, with just a click, we were able to send it to our vet for Barli’s file!

Barli’s Breed Mix

And now the part you’ve been waiting for. Which breeds did the DNA show makeup Barli’s heritage? Drumroll, please…

We had a good idea that Barli was a mixed breed dog–but we didn’t realize just HOW much of a mix he is!

Just as the shelter guessed, he’s mostly Border Collie but he’s a whole stew pot of other breeds as well:

Yep, along with Border Collie he’s everything from Chihuahua (?!) and Pomeranian to American Staffordshire Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Australian Cattle Dog and more they couldn’t quite detect, the Supermutt category.

The Supermutt category stems from the fragments of DNA that are too minute to test but which they predict could be Cocker Spaniel and German Shepherd Dog:

The Embark test also checks for “wolfiness” which measures the bits of a wild heritage that may linger in the DNA; most dogs score under 1%.

At 1.7%, Barli gets high wolfiness marks:

The test also provides a predicted adult weight, although the explanation shows that this can be off (as it is a bit in Barli’s case; at nine months now, he’s about 27 pounds).

Based on that DNA, Embark is able to construct a possible family tree for Barli:

And if you’d like to do a deep dive into DNA information, Embark even provides Maternal and Paternal Haplotype images and explanations to show how Barli’s ancestors came to this country:

We are so excited to get this peek into Barli’s past, both for the health results and for the breed results. A big paws up for Embark Vet!

Buy Embark Dog DNA test

You can purchase an Embark Dog DNA kit on Amazon; it now includes over 350 dog breeds and tests for over 200 genetic conditions.

More DNA Test Results from our family!

Paris Permenter
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