The Embark Dog DNA Test is an at-home testing kit for pet dogs. The sample collected at home is shipped to the company's laboratory, where the dog's DNA is extensively tested. In addition to providing information about the breed(s) present among the dog's ancestors, the company also tests for predispositions to more than 100 health conditions that are linked to genetic mutations, alterations, or markers.
The kit comes in a small box and has complete instructions about how to collect the DNA sample. Choosing a time when the dog hasn't eaten anything for at least 30 minutes, the owner uses a small brush-like device on a stick to gently rub cells off the tissue that lines the inside of the dog's mouth.
The stick is then inserted into a pre-labeled plastic tube full of a preservative solution. The tube is sealed shut, placed in the provided pre-paid shipping box, and sent in the regular mail to the laboratory.
The breed results
It takes about four to six weeks before the results become available online. The company sends out an email with a link to the detailed results. A pedigree is provided, showing the family tree of the dog going back several generations. Based on the dog's genetics, the company provides an estimate of what color the dog is, what its coat is like, how large it will get, and what the dog's temperament and instinctive behaviors are likely to be.
The health results
The company will also provide information about the genes they test to predict possible genetic predispositions to diseases. If you are lucky, they will say the dog has no known predispositions. Otherwise, the company carefully explains what any positive findings might mean.
Many breeders are using this test to avoid passing on genetic conditions to their puppies. A lot of the positive findings involve the dog being a carrier of a mutation that can cause disease if a dog inherits two copies of that mutation; thus, breeders may choose not to breed carriers to eliminate the condition from their lines.
One fun aspect of Embark is that they will periodically alert dog owners when another dog is tested and found to be related to your dog. Some owners of rescued dogs have managed to locate the siblings of their dog, and have held happy, fun dog family reunions or made fast friends with owners of dogs related to their dog.