Comparing the Embark and Wisdom Panel! Using the DNA from our mystery pup, we tried both dog DNA tests to find out which was best.

Brindle dog sitting on a blue mat with two dog DNA tests
 

Since Myles strolled into our lives, we’ve been asked countless times about his breed – but we have no idea! So we sent in two different dog DNA test kits to find out which breeds combined to make our gorgeous boy.

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Comparing the test results from Embark and Wisdom Panel should give us a good fix on Myles’ heritage and help you decide which kit will work best for you!

Comparing Dog DNA Test Kits

Both the Embark and Wisdom Panel kits are very simple and great for mixed breed dogs. There are some small differences, but the functionality is essentially identical. Each kit includes:

  • A swab (or 2 in Wisdom Panel’s case)
  • Instructions to use the swabs to get your dogs DNA sample
  • An activation code to set up your account online
  • Prepaid packaging to send your swab(s) back to the lab for testing

Difference Between The Embark and Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Tests

  • Embark has 1 swab with a sponge tip and a vial of stabilizing fluid
  • Wisdom Panel has 2 swabs with bristles
  • The Embark packaging is more elaborate
Embark Dog DNA Test Kit Instructions
Embark Dog DNA Test Kit Instructions
Instructions for the Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test Kit
Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test Kit Instructions
 

Price Comparison

Embark and Wisdom Panel both offer a couple of dog DNA test kit options.

Embark’s basic Breed ID kit costs $ 129 and includes your dog’s DNA composition from 350+ breeds, a family tree, the option to locate your dog’s relatives (if they’ve been tested by Embark), and access to research surveys. If you choose this option, you can upgrade to get your dog’s breed health and trait info later by paying an extra fee.

The Breed + Health Kit from Embark, which we chose, gives you everything from the Breed ID kit plus screens for 200+ other genetic health conditions risks and 20+ physical traits. This kit is listed at $199, but we were able to find it on the Embark website and on Amazon for $159.

Brindle dog sitting on a picnic table with two dog DNA tests comparing the test results from Embark and Wisdom Panel

Wisdom Panel’s Essential Dog DNA Test Kit provides your dog’s DNA composition from 350+ breeds, types, and varieties. It states that it has 1% breed reporting precision, tests for 25+ medical complications, and includes 35+ trait tests. The cost of this kit is $99.

The Wisdom Panel Premium Dog DNA Test Kit provides all the benefits of the Essential Kit, plus a genetic diversity score and a veterinarian consultation for notable health findings for a cost of $159.

 

Collecting The Sample

Both tests are very simple to use. No matter which test you choose, all you have to do to get your dogs DNA sample is rub the swab on the inside of your dog’s mouth between its gums and cheek.

Both tests provide easy-to-follow instructions, covering everything from the time spent swabbing to how long to wait after your dog eats to use the test.

Activating Your Account

You’ll also get an activation code with each kit, which you use to create an account and add your dog’s profile on the company’s website. You’ll receive email updates throughout the process, and you’ll log into your account to see your dog’s results when they’re ready.

Pack It Up And Ship It Back

Both Embark and Wisdom Panel include prepaid packaging to send your dog’s DNA samples back to the lab via USPS. The packaging is small enough to drop into a mailbox, so there’s no need to go to the post office to ship them.

Wisdom Panel and Embark DNA Test Kits packed up and ready to ship
 

What Is Myles?

Before you continue reading, have a little fun and see if you can guess what breeds make up Myles’ DNA!

Brindle dog posing on the pet friendly Agua Caliente Trail near Tucson, AZ

Here are a few clues that might influence your guess:

1. We found Myles as a stray in San Antonio, Texas.

2. We believe he is about 17 months old.

3. He’s lanky, weighing in at 39.5 pounds and measuring 22.5 inches at the shoulder.

4. He’s a very “talky” boy, though he doesn’t bark a lot. He loves to sing an arrroooo to get people’s attention, and he makes many other noises, some of which sound like Chewbacca.

5. Myles is not a fan of water in any form … baths, rain, lakes, streams, snow, or puddles.

6. He has never met a person or dog he didn’t like.

7. His ears measure 4 inches from base to tip when fully extended.

8. He stalks squirrels, rabbits, and lizards.

9. One of his primary physical traits is the fact that he is brindle colored with a freckled white chest and chin, white toes, and a white tip on his tail.

Happy brindle dog in a red bandana at White Sands National Park, NM
 

The Results Are In!

Getting the results of Myles’ dog DNA test took a little longer than I expected. The Wisdom Panel results arrived 14 days after we mailed the packages, and the Embark results took 23 days.

Though it took longer to get their results, Embark was more proactive about sending email updates during the process. We were notified that the swab was en route when the sample had arrived, when processing was about to begin when Myles’ health results were ready, and when his first breed results were complete.

Wisdom Panel also sent a note when the sample arrived, and eight days later, I received another email notifying me that Myles’ breed results were ready.

Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test Results

Breed Breakdown

With this breakdown, Wisdom Panel provided links to detailed descriptions of each breed that showed up in Myles’ DNA, which was handy since I’d never heard of a few of them!

Here’s the breakdown breed ancestry: 17% Labrador Retriever, 16% Dutch Shepherd Dog, 15% Bulldog, 15% Boxer, 15% Chow Chow, 6% Xoloitzcuintli, 4% Weimaraner, 3% Russell Terrier, 2% American Staffordshire Terrier, 2% Boston Terrier, 2% Yorkshire Terrier, 2% Finnish Lapphund, and 1% Pomeranian. Whew!

Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test results for Myles
 

Family Tree

They also provided a hypothetical family tree showing how this combination of genes could have happened.

Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test Family Tree for Myles
 

Genetic Screening

We did the dog DNA tests for the fun of finding out which breeds combined to make our boy. But as I was reviewing the results, things got very serious in the dog’s genetic makeup and disease screening section for genetic health risks.

Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test Genetic Screening for Myles

Seeing Degenerative Myelopathy mentioned in Myles’ report made my heart skip a beat. Buster was misdiagnosed with this devastating condition when he started showing signs of the spinal stenosis that eventually took him.

I truly appreciated Wisdom Panel‘s careful explanation that dogs need TWO copies of the genetic variant to be affected by DM, and Myles only has one. They also provided a link with more information.

Because we’d purchased the premium test kit, Wisdom Panel also offered a free 15-minute call to discuss Myles’ health results with one of their veterinarians. If the results had shown Myles was genetically disposed to something serious, I’d have been grateful to talk to a vet.

 

Embark Dog DNA Test Results

Breed Breakdown

Nine days later, the Embark results arrived. Where Wisdom Panel was able to identify 13 different breeds in Myles’ DNA, Embark reported seven.

Here’s the breakdown: 18.7% Chow Chow, 17.9% Bulldog, 16.0% Boxer, 14.6% Labrador Retriever, 6.8% Collie, 5.8% German Shepherd Dog, 3.6% Rottweiler, and 16.6% Supermutt.

They went on to explain that in the “Supermutt” classification there may be small amounts of DNA from these distant ancestors: Mastiff, American Bulldog, American Staffordshire Terrier. Their website also provided more information on each of the breeds, though, on this list, I recognized them all.

Embark Dog DNA Test results for Myles
 

Myles’ Chromosome Map

A mixed breed dog is not the average or blending of the breeds that form it but an expression of specific traits inherited from specific breeds. That’s one reason mixed breeds can look, act, and have health issues associated more with one breed than another!

Understanding that made Myles’ chromosome illustration interesting. Using 200,000+ genetic markers, Embark was able to determine which part of each of Myles’ chromosomes came from each breed. Pretty cool, huh?

Embark DNA Breed Origins for Myles
 

Locating Relatives

Embark also provides a family tree and health screening for dog owners, but one thing the Embark dog DNA test allows you to do that Wisdom Panel doesn’t is to get in touch with your dog’s “relatives.”

They identified 30 dogs that they’d tested and who share enough DNA with Myles that they’d be considered first cousins in the human world. They even have a platform where you can message the owner of your dog’s relatives.

Embark DNA Relatives for Myles
 

My Impression

Both companies provided a breed breakdown, breed descriptions, hypothetical family tree, a measure of genetic diversity, health screening for 200+ other genetic diseases and conditions, and a report on physical traits your dog inherited, like coat color and tendency to shed.

Embark‘s results took a little longer, but if you’re interested in connecting with people whose dogs are related to yours, this is your shot. They also provided more information on the dog’s genetic origins.

Wisdom Panel, on the other hand, was faster, offered the free call with a veterinarian with the premium kit, and didn’t assign a big chunk of Myles’ DNA to the unidentifiable “Supermutt” classification.

As far as the actual results, truthfully, I’m still shaking my head. The Dutch Shepherd makes sense, but Chow? Really?! I just don’t see it. After both tests, we know one thing with absolute certainty, and that’s that Myles is 100% a very good boy.

Woman holding dog on a pet friendly trail at Kartchner Caverns State Park near Tucson, AZ
 

For the Winners

Congratulations to Ashley and Olivia, the winners of our “What’s Our Pup?” contest! Ashely guessed Myles was a Boxer, Lab, Staffie mix, which was closest to the Wisdom Panel results. And Olivia guessed Myles was a Great Dane, Shepherd, Boxer mix, which was closest to the Embark results.

In addition to bragging rights, the two winners will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and some GoPetFriendly swag.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: GoPetFriendly.com LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, audible.com, and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, the owner of this site earns a commission from qualifying purchases.

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    • Hi Angie! Yes, the Embark test also picked up the Degenerative Myelopathy mutation, but the results didn’t explain that TWO copies of the genetic variant are needed for dogs to be affected by DM, and Myles only has one. I was grateful that I received the Wisdom Panel results first or I would have been really upset. I hope that helps!

  • Hello, I did the wisdom panel for my dog 5 years ago when i got her and took a mew one when i saw they now showed health insites and relatives (they do let you contact them now!) Both tests showed the exact same breeds years apart, although the percentages changed a tiny bit but thats to be expected as they get more and more tests in and the algorithm adapts to the info gained. The family tree was great and now that I can compare to family members the results seem to be very accurate so I tested my newest dog too. Ive found siblings and one of their fathers! I wanted to get the embark tests too just for the sake of finding more family members but I wasnt sure if it was worth it or accurate. No matter what, the results always come back to dogs being 100% good boys and girls!

    • That’s so cool, Krissie! It’s been a while since we did the test for Myles, and I love that you’ve found siblings and a parent. It would be a blast to do a meet-up and see if the dogs recognize each other. =D

  • I was really frustrated with Embark. My small breed mutt that everyone assumes is chiweenie (long body, tall, terrier temperament) came back 100% Chihuahua with Embark. It didn’t make a lick of sense considering every VET (multiple), Trainer, and dog expert that’s met her said “that’s not a chihuahua”. So I bought another test (not Wisdom) and it came back only 78% chihuahua with a few other breeds that she DOES resemble in appearance, personality, health. Going to have to pick up a Wisdom panel kit to split the difference and see if there’s a common denominator between them. I wrote to Embark about the discrepancy and they said they reviewed her results and they’re correct. They state that even a 1% difference in DNA may change the dog’s appearance but that may not be detectible in a DNA test…. which seemingly at least one other test IS able to detect.

    In my experience, Embark has the best marketing and design budget, but their algorithms and reference panels are suspect. I think they’ve relied on consumer faith and reputation and market share for so long, while competitors have relied on improving the product itself.

    My $.02.

    Your pup is adorable and certainly 100% good boy

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience! It’s always good to hear how the results have turned out for other people’s dogs and which test appears to be more accurate. If you do the Wisdom test, I’d love to hear what you find out!

  • I adopted a mutt, “beagle mix,” according to the Humane Society docs, and ended up doing Embark and then Wisdom as well. Wisdom was more detailed in identifying the 22 breeds on theirs as opposed to 14 on Embark, although Embark had a litter sibling that teased out an additional 4 breeds.

    There were not many breed classification differences beyond the additional depth reported in wisdom, but the percentage proportion differences were notable. The most notable was Wisdom indicating 12% Chihuahua versus Embark at a minimal part of supermutt. As Lola IID about 20” and a robust 50 pounds at 10 months, I’m more inclined to believe the Embark, since the differential was the equivalent of taking an Embark Rott mix grandparent and Lab/GSD grandparent and making them both Chihuahua mixes.

    Lola takes after her black lab and pitt family, with clear rott bulk that leaves her looking like a mini-mastiff. The dna was also truth telling in her personality as she is a very happy and exuberant dog with guarding and happy chasing vibes. I found both tests useful in triangulation and the embark relative (and similar dna mixes) connections were very informative, as I was able to see adult versions of my puppy that were very similar (90+%) in breed breakdowns.

    • That’s fantastic, Scott! Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughtful comparison of the two DNA options. Lola sounds absolutely perfect. And 22 breeds – WOW!! I thought Myles was a super-combo with 13 breeds! =D I wish you years and years of happy adventures together. Waggin’ trails!

      • We both forgot to mention Embark has a wolf dna score as well. I’m not sure how it is derived, but Lola scored ‘high’ at 3.1%. Do we get to name our super-combos? I’d say Lola is a Southwest Border Cur, reflecting her chihuahua, and pitbull base. Hope others drop their super combos in the chat. Doggie dna was made for these mixed and remixed breeds.

        • Southwest Border Cur is the perfect breed! And I hope more people share their mixes as well. It’s fun to hear what makes up our awesome pups!

  • Myles looks a LOT like my Marley who, before testing, I thought had some Dutch Shepherd or Tennessee Brindle. Embark came back with American Pit Bull (which could also be where the Brindle is from), Labrador, and German Shepherd. I might have to try Wisdom Panel and see what they say.

    • Hi Miriam! It’s so funny how dogs can look so similar despite being different combinations of breeds. I fully expected Myles to have pittie in him … but he seems to be getting his brindle from the boxer and Dutch Shepherd lines. I say have a try with Wisdom Panel – it’s fun to compare the results!

    • I found this article for this very reason! My adoption papers and vet both said dutch shepherd and embark didn’t list it. I was searching for others with the same experience before I purchase the wisdom test. This article and your comment helped me make my decision.

      • So glad we could help, Christy! I hope the test results work as well for you as they did for us. Good luck!

  • Hi there, we live in SA also and have adopted a beautiful little girl stray and want to have her tested. I would love your opinion on which test would be best for our little girl.

    • Congratulations, Lauren! Of the two dog DNA test kits, I found the Wisdom Panel results more informative. I hope that helps you make your decision. Be sure to stop back and let us know what breeds make up your girl!

  • Myles definitely looks like the BEST boy and is a handsome boy too!!! And, thank you for the comparison..very helpful!!

  • Honestly my Niven has so much in common with Myles it’s crazy, same one floppy ,tallll ears, even white tip on her tail, so cute!. Her coloring however is faun and white. Wisdom told me she was more than half pit/American Staffordshire Terrier…she’s so tall and thin I really don’t see it at all…when I have some extra cash for it I’m going to try Embark and see what they say. That shared genetics, cousin aspect is amazing too!

    • She sounds gorgeous, Michelle! I agree – comparing the two tests was really interesting and gave me a clearer picture of Myles’ lineage. Good luck to you. Let us know what you find out!

  • Thanks for the thorough review of both these products. I’ve been debating what to get for my girls and this definitely helps.

    Just a note – Chows are a very old breed (supposedly one of the first). As a result, it’s really common for Chow DNA to appear in dogs, especially mutts, since all dogs probably descend from the same ancient ancestors as modern Chows. A lot of purebred dogs also have 1-5% Chow in them on these tests.

    If Myles is a lanky mutt from the south, he’s probably an “American Cur.” This isn’t an official breed, it’s more of a catch-all term for the original all-American mutt that the settlers and pioneers bred from a mixture of hunting, herding, and guarding dogs. They usually have a good mix of hound, shepherd, terrier, and guarding breeds like boxer or bulldog. They tend to be loud, active, friendly dogs with long legs and short coats. Since Myles was found in Texas, he might have some “Lacy Blue” or “Lacy Cur” in him. You might also want to check out “Mountain Cur,” “Black Mouth Cur,” and “Catahoula Cur.”

    • Thanks so much for this information, Alessa! Considering the tests picked up so many breeds, we feel confident that Myles’ ancestors have been mutts for generations. Your description of the American Cur makes a lot of sense. I’ll definitely look into these breeds. Thanks again!

    • When I rescued my Niven from Mississippi I was told she was a Feist, apparently close to a Cur, also not an official breed. My Wisdom panel told me she is mostly pit/am Stafford Terrier and husky. I’m pretty doubtful

      • I’ve not heard of a Feist! I’ll have to look up what breeds were combined to make that breed.

  • To make the tests worthwhile, I would expect the two tests to agree much more. We did the Embark test on our dog Juno, and the results seemed fairly unlikely for some of the breeds indicated. Juno looks like some breeds that are quite rare, so I wonder if those are even in their database. The tests look like fun, but not a real answer to the breed mix.

    • Hi Frank! I agree — I was hoping the results would be a little closer as well. That being said, both tests picked up Bulldog, Boxer, Lab and Chow for Myles. And they both picked up Shepherd, though one was Dutch and one was German. I guess in the grand scheme of things, that’s not too bad.

  • No matter what breed Myles test results show, I can see that he is a Good Boy with the most beautiful brown eyes. He came into your world and won the jackpot! Myles just looks so fascinated to see the world with you. My heart fills with joy each time I see him posing in a different location. He is the one and only Myles!

  • Well he’s a cutie either way you dice it. I’m gonna guess part Great Dane part pitbull, i think there’s also some sort of hound in there

  • Well, I always start with Labrador. LOL My other guesses are Basenji, Pariah and he has to have a little Golden in there with that Arooooo. I really can’t wait for you to get these results, it’s so much fun!

  • Dutch Shepherd, Treeing Tennessee Brindle (bred from Cur dogs), German Shorthaired Pointer

  • German shep, husky, American Staffordshire Terrier, and some sort of hound. Whatever he is, he’s adorable!

  • whippet/greyhound + Catahoula + American Staffordshire terrier I would also say Black Mouth Cur but that won’t show up on either of the DNA panels since it is a composite breed, mostly treeing walker hound + other locals.

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