Decode Your Dog: DNA kits for your pets

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For many people their dog isn't just a pet, it's part of the family. However, often a point of conversation, and curiosity, for dog owners is their dog's breed. Live 5 investigates a product that may shed some light on a dog's genetic makeup.

"It is all about him, he is definitely a one person dog," said Carolina Eller, dog owner. "He has to be mama's boy. He's always with me, always under foot."

Eller adopted her dog Sam from a shelter, his pedigree was a total mystery. Then, she discovered a DNA kit for dogs and jumped at the chance to learn more about her new family member.

Eller isn't the only one with interest, the kits are gaining popularity with families who adopt shelter dogs, that's according to Kay Hyman at the Charleston Animal Society.

"People are really curious, especially about their shelter dogs, their rescue dogs," said Hyman. "They don't come with papers but we all know they're special."

"I had so many people guessing you know and I always thought he was a Corgi and I was proven totally wrong," said Eller.

With the simple swipe of saliva from the gums, Eller shipped her DNA kit off in the mail. In two to three weeks, she had a new found understanding of her beloved pet.

"He is a Dotson-Pekingese mix, believe it or not!," said Eller.

The results include facts about each breed, including what their personality tends to be like and the physical appearances of their snout, ears and overall body sizes.

It may have been curiosity that initially led Eller to do the test, but she's taking that knowledge to care for Sam in a more specific way.

"It was just a fun thing to see what made up Sam," said Eller. "You know better how to train them, how to interact with your dog."

Hyman says it provides some health insight as well.

"You might find out that your dog is predisposed to specific diseases, it might help you in the long run for their care," said Hyman.

The test are not 100 percent accurate, but do provide some interesting information.

"They do say that the wisdom panel DNA kit tests is about 80 percent accurate," said Eller. "That was was good enough for me."

These kits cost $59 dollars each. You can get them at area pet stores. However, if you buy it from the Charleston Animal Society retail store, part of the proceeds go towards caring for the animals at the shelter.

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