So, earlier this week I posted some results from a Maddies Fund/University of Florida study that compared the breed ID (based on photographic questions) compared to what DNA matched with the dogs pictured.
The results caused several, both here and on Facebook, to question the validity of the DNA tests.
So, let's go back and look at at least one view of the validity of the DNA tests.
This summer, the Veterinary Information Network did a small study to test the validity of DNA tests with dogs of known (and unknown) heritage. Their research has a very small sample size, with 4 dogs of known ancestory and 2 of unknown. They also tested various DNA tests. From their results:
"What we found: Wisdom Panel was the superior competitor. Though not flawless, the test tended to give reasonable and ususally consistent, if not necessarily enlightening, results. Veterinary geneticists we consulted also pointed to the Wisdom Panel as the most scientifically reputable."
Most of the other tests provided some pretty ridiculous results, so I'm just going to focus on the results from the Wisdom Panel test (which is the only one I'd ever claim, at this point, to have validity).
Dog #1: Actual: Purebred Standard Poodle -- Wisdom Panel Results -- Purebred Standard Poodle
Dog #2: Actual: 68% Beagle, 14% German Shepherd, 9% Giant Schnauzer and 8% Bassett. Wisdom Panel results: Primary: Beagle. Secondary German Shepherd and also a trace of Ibizan Hound.
Dog #3: Actual: Golden Retriever and English Springer Spaniel mix (the spaniel is from Australia). Wisdom Panel noted Golden Retriever and English Springer Spaniel, with a minority blend of other breeds.
Dog #4: Actual: Australian Shepherd/Jack Russell Terrier mix. Wisdom Panel results: 50% Rat Terrier (very similar genetically to Jack Russells), 1/2 Border Collie (the closed match to the Australian Shepherd) and 1/2 potpourri.
According to a spokesman for the Mars Wisdom Panel tests, the test has an accuracy rate above 90% in a sample of more than 200 mixed-breed dogs of known ancestory -- but that dogs that are mixes of many different breeds are sometimes more challenging and thus, less precise.
These results (although, with a very small sample size) would tend to show a little less prcision than this, a slight tendency to mix up closely related breeds and the less of the mix the dog is, the less precise the breed profile. But the results don't appear to be "junk science" either as some would attest.
There's a lot of good info on how breeds are determined by the DNA tests in the article, so be sure to check out the whole thing. If you have tested your dog with the Wisdom Panel test within the past 2 years ( and it is of known heritage), I'd love to hear how your results turned out.