Does your dog need a DNA Test?


A year ago I would have laughed at the thought of getting my dog a DNA test. Seriously, I love my mutts; I don’t need to know what breed they are to knowhow much I love them! I recently found out that Dog DNA tests are much more than just finding out what breed they’re mixed with.

In November 2020, my senior dog, Margi, passed away.  She joined her brother, Riedi, who passed in 2019, over the rainbow bridge. It had been 18 years since I hadn’t had a dog in my home and it was so quiet that I couldn’t handle it! I was used to having a snuggle buddy or one of them begging for a treat at all hours!

I had thought I would give myself time to grieve my kids, but with COVID-19 and being cooped up inside so much, it was unbearable.  Just 10 days of quiet was enough. I searched on Petfinder and the local pet rescue websites to see the adoptable dogs in the area.

I had pretty specific requirements too. I wanted a dog that was not too big but not tiny either, around 35 pounds. I didn’t care if it was male or female, but the last few years with senior dogs made me want a dog that was under 6 years old, but not a puppy. I needed a companion that I could go on long walks with and cuddle with too!

I thought it might take some timeto find the perfect match, but my Riedi & Margi had other plans! They sent Moxi to me! She was at a local Atlanta rescue shelter, Fur Kids.

Moxi (Magdelena Haroldine Clements)is a very sweet girl but had a rough start. I am the 4th home she’s been to in the last 2 years!  They discovered that she didn’t get along well with children and other dogs.  She needed a quiet house where she could rule the roost! We are the perfect match!

Tricia and Moxie

Why does Moxi need a Dog DNA test?

A few days after adopting Moxi, I took her for a wellness checkup and her vet mentioned that not only was she about 5 pounds overweight (we need to get started on those walks ASAP!) but she might have some herding breed in her.

Some herding breed dogs (especially Collies, Australian Shepherds, and German Shepherds) can have what’s called theMDR1 gene mutation. This is short for Multi-Drug Resistance 1. It means that if she does have the MDR1 gene mutation, then various medications, especially many common heartworm preventative medications, can be toxic, causing neurological problems and even death!

After less than a week, I had grown very attached to Moxi. I can’t imagine how she had been returned to Fur Kids three times before she came to live with me. I definitely wanted to know if she has the MDR1 gene mutation before giving her monthly heartworm medication.  I didn’t want her to suffer a tall if there was something I could do to avoid it.

Fur Kids had her listed as a German Shepherd Mix, and my guess was she also had Husky in her from her blue eye.

How to Find Out if Your Dog has the MDR1 Gene Mutation

I scoured the internet for research on the MDR1 gene mutation to see if there was a way to know for sure.  To my surprise, Dog DNA testing companies can test for not only breeds but this gene mutation!

I had no idea that Dog DNA Tests could tell me that! I thought it was just their breeds they are mixed with.

I searched for various companies and found Wisdom Panel. I knew some friends had used them and when I went to their website, this caught my attention:

You’ll find your dog’s DNA results divided into three categories: health, ancestry, and traits.


Not only would the Dog DNA test tell me if Moxi has the MDR1gene mutation (mentioned explicitly on their website),but it also checks for a variety of health concerns. I would know if she might have hip dysplasia or other issues as she gets older. What a great way to be proactive in her health and start her on supplements early if she needs them!

Wisdom Panel has 2 different levels you can purchase; they currently cost either $100 or $160, depending on how much information you want to receive.  I choose the Premium package because it would give me so much more information on her health and for just $60 more, I thought it was worth it.

As soon as Moxi’s DNA test kit came in, I shared it on Facebook and asked everyone to guess her breed!

Some of the guesses included Husky, German Shepherd, Doberman, and Rottweiler.  The test was really easy. It contained 2 swabs and I had to swab the inside of her cheek for15 seconds for both so they make sure they got enough DNA. The hardest part was she wasn’t allowed to eat or have treats for 2 hours before taking the test! That was ruff on both of us!

I then sent it back in their pre-paid shipping box and waited. This was in December, so I didn’t think I would hear back until-January because of the Christmas shipping delays.

To my surprise, I received an email on December 30th telling me Moxi’s DNA results were in! We were ready for the big reveal!

Does Moxi have the MDR1 Gene Mutation?

I got a full report on Moxi’s DNA with lots of information and resources on breeds, health concerns and more. To my relief, Moxi does NOT have the MDR1 gene mutation.  Not only that, of the 211 genetic health predispositions they tested for, Moxi passed everything!

It was nice knowing that she doesn’t have health concerns that I need to worry about, but also, if she did, I would have been able to find out early and implement some preventative measures.

What Breeds Make Moxi?

I was correct on Husky! Moxi is 27%Siberian Husky, that’s her one pretty blue eye! What surprised me is that she is 14% American Staffordshire Terrier and 13% Dalmatian. I don’t see the Dalmatian at all! Do you?

Moxie's Ancestry Highlights

Have you had a DNA test done on your dog? If not do you think that having this information would help your dog as they become seniors? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook Page.

Stay tuned for future blog posts where we discuss other ways having more information about a dog’s breed might help them.

Tricia Clements

Tricia Clements is the Top Dog with Your Biz Watchdog. She helps small businesses get found online and focuses on Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Google My Business, and business branding & reputation management. Since  

Pets and helping rescue animals have been her passions since childhood. She has volunteered at the Cobb County Animal Services shelter and has been a long-time supporter and volunteer with Pawsitive Supporters.