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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Why a Dog DNA Test Can Be Important

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

A dog DNA test is quickly becoming a popular research tool and in many ways it can be an owner's first line of defense against certain health related issues. This can be important for owners of mixed breed dogs who want to determine exactly which breeds are involved in their pet's genetic makeup. However, it is equally important for many purebreds, particularly herding dogs like the Australian Shepherd that can suffer from a unique genetic flaw that causes them to have adverse reactions to some commonly used drugs.

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There are several companies currently offering DNA testing, so it is relatively easy to come by and extremely easy to use. It is very similar to human testing, in that you receive a pair of swabs that you use to swipe the inside of your dog's cheek. You then dry off the swab, seal it and send it in to the company, usually with a specially created ID number so that you can later access your results online. While it may seem frivolous, it is important to remember that this is more than just a simple dog breed test and may have serious health ramifications.

Once the lab receives your swabs, they will process them and gather detailed information related to your dog's DNA. The results of this dog DNA test, which can then be shared with you either through the mail or online, can tell you all about your dog's genetic background. In the case of mixed breeds, the DNA can detail exactly which breeds are present, which can be important to know as many breeds can have specific health related issues.

Australian Shepherd with DNA Helix photo illustration.

Photos: Chris /, Sashkin /

Having this kind detailed information from a dog breed test can be invaluable for veterinarians, who may then be able to provide more accurate and targeted health care for your pet. This can also allow you to get a better idea of your dog's overall needs based on specific breed profiles, so that you can identify a target weight profile and other characteristics that should be present in that breed. All of this combines to ensure a healthier and happier dog.

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Use A Dog DNA Test To Screen For MDR1 Gene Mutation

In the case of the herding breeds, including Australian Shepherds, a dog DNA test, like those from Embark and Wisdom Panel (available on Amazon), can provide a very specific and extremely important service. These breeds often have a specific gene mutation in the MDR1, or Multi-Drug Resistance 1 gene. This gene is responsible for producing a protein called P-glycoprotein that plays an important role in limiting drug absorption and distribution. Dogs with the MDR1 mutation may be more susceptible to adverse reactions to certain drugs as they don't absorb them properly.

Having this information can help your vet to know which drugs to use and which to avoid, which in turn can help to prevent serious repercussions that can threaten your dog's health. For this reason, owners of herding breeds are particularly interested in any dog breed test that can also provide medical information, particularly information involving the MDR1 mutation.

A quick look online will reveal many types of dog DNA test currently available. All of these tests are quick and easy to use and can provide detailed results. DNA testing can not only map your dog's genetic background, but it can also help to identify specific health care needs so he can get the attention he needs. With just a simple swipe of the cheek you can go a long way toward providing the best possible health care for your dog, so there's almost no reason not to avail yourself of this service.

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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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