Embark Review - UPDATED Feb 2018
Embark was founded by Adam and Ryan Boyko, two scientists who dedicated their lives to discovering the genetic foundations for many dog diseases and traits. Our Embark review will put the embodiment of their research to the test and inspect the results of their life-long work.
Embark greatly differs from other dog DNA testing companies. They really care about the well-being of our animal family members. They still constantly collect data by working closely with numerous breeders and veterinarians. Partnering with Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine also gave them an excellent platform for researching how to improve dog wellness.
How Embark Works
Ordering and conducting a dog DNA test pretty much mirrors the protocol for humans:
- You start off by ordering the DNA test kit online.
- The shipment will leave their warehouse within 1-2 work days.
- The test kit will contain cheek swabs and detailed instructions (Embark website has a comprehensive guide on how to swab your dog).
- Once you have the DNA sample, activate your kit online and mail the specimen back to Embark’s lab in the provided packaging.
- Interactive results will arrive around 8 weeks after the analysis has been completed. The results can also be viewed on your phone through the Embark app.
Why Choose Embark
Embark is so much more than a simple dog DNA testing company. It’s the life work of two dedicated scientists, whose entire careers are all about improving the health and quality of life of dogs.
Concretely put, here’s a list of benefits to potentially sway you their way:
- Modern testing technology
- State-of-the-art, dog-approved laboratory
- Detailed DNA test with 256 quadrillion genetic combinations tested
- Special offers for breeders and veterinarians
- Exclusive discounts for multiple tests
- Quick service
- Excellent customer support
- Experience gathered through a hands-on approach and partnership with numerous veterinarians and scientists in the field
- Scientific Advisory Board and partnership with Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine
- Extensive knowledge gathered all around the world and database covering all known dog breeds
- Comprehensive results and possibility of special reports for your vet
- Free shipping
- Free result updates with every new feature and discovery
- Special attention to your privacy
- Downloadable raw data
- App integration
- Charity work and partnership with numerous shelters, so every test ordered means a bit of money for dogs in need
There are many more factors that merit our attention, we just focused on the most prominent ones. Embark is definitely a dog-friendly institution in every possible sense of the word.
Their main test aimed at the general public is simply called the Embark Dog DNA Test. Apart from the most commercial product, they also offer a specialized test for breeders.
Embark Dog DNA Test
The test covers all the potential points of inquiry you might have about your dog. The current price is 199$, but there are discounts when testing multiple dogs (10% discount for 2 kits, 12% for 3, 20% for 4 and more kits).
The test was developed by experts in veterinary medicine and it is widely accepted by professional veterinary hospitals and dog breeders. It is also approved by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
Specifically, here’s what you can get for the price:
Breed identification and ancestry research – Embark tests your dog’s DNA for traces of more than 150 different breeds. It’s a gross understatement to say that you’ll get a perfectly accurate breed identification for your pet.
The ancestry part of the test reaches back to the great grandparents of your dog and it will be depicted via a comprehensive family tree. The test also takes coyote, village dog, and wolf ancestry into account. Also, this is the only test that recognizes village dogs at all and can tell you all about their origins. The full list of breeds can be viewed on their site.
The ancestry test also analyzes mitochondrial DNA and the Y-chromosome. This can uncover the story behind your dog’s paternal and maternal lineages, with a comprehensive map of their geographical journey through time. In other words, you’ll also find out your pet’s haplogroup, haplotype, and the migration patterns of its ancestors 15,000 years into the past
Health reports – The health of your dog starts with its genes. Performing an adequate DNA test is a crucial factor in extending the healthspan (and consequentially lifespan) of your 4-legged friend. Embark tests for more than 160 genetic health conditions, covering all major systems in your dog’s organism.
The test examines the following areas:
- Clinical, searching for multidrug sensitivity and Alanine Aminotransferase Activity
- Blood for conditions like Hemophilia, Thrombopathia, P2RY12 Defect, Von Willebrand Disease types, Canine Elliptocytosis, May-Hegglin Anomaly, Ligneous Membranitis, and more
- Hormones for Congenital Hypothyroidism (TPO Variant 1)
- Immune system for complement 3 deficiency, severe combined immunodeficiency, and X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (variants 1 and 2)
- Eyes for Progressive Retinal Atrophy – Rod-cone dysplasia, Collie Retinal Atrophy – Cone-rod dystrophy 1 and 2, Achromatopsia, Autosomal Dominant Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Glaucoma, hereditary cataracts, early onset and juvenile cataracts, primary Lens Luxation, and much more
- Kidney and bladder for Cystinuria, Primary Hyperoxaluria, 2,8 – Dihydroxyadenine Urolithiasis, Polycystic Kidney Disease, Autosomal Recessive Hereditary Nephropathy, and so on
- Multisystem areas for X-linked Ectodermal Dysplasia, Anhidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia, Glycogen Storage Disease, Lagotto Storage Disease, Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis, Gangliosidosis, Renal Cystadenocarcinoma and Nodular Dermatofibrosis, Krabbe’s disease, and so on
- Brain and spinal cord for Alaskan Husky Encephalopathy, Subacute Necrotizing Encephalomyelopathy, Alexander Disease, Cerebellar Abiotrophy, Neonatal Cerebellar Cortical Degeneration, Degenerative Myelopathy, Shaking Puppy Syndrome, X-linked Generalized Tremor Syndrome, Progressive Neuronal Abiotrophy (Canine Multiple System Degeneration), Hereditary Sensory Autonomic Neuropathy (HSAN), Acral Mutilation Syndrome, and other conditions
- Hearth for Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Long QT Syndrome
- Muscular systems for Muscular Dystrophy, Inherited Myopathy of Great Danes, Myotonia Congenita, Centronuclear Myopathy, Exercise-Induced Collapse, Myotonia Congenita, Myotubular Myopathy 1, and X-linked Myotubular Myopathy
- Metabolic for Hypocatalasia, Acatalasemia, Malignant Hyperthermia, and Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Deficiency
- Gastro-intestinal for Imerslund-Grasbeck Syndrome and Selective Cobalamin Malabsorption
- Neuro-muscular for Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome and Episodic Falling Syndrome
- Skin for Ichthyosis, Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis, Ectodermal Dysplasia, Skin Fragility Syndrome, Focal Non-Epidermolytic Palmoplantar Keratoderma, Pachyonychia Congenita, Hereditary Footpad Hyperkeratosis, and several others
- Skeletal system for Cleft Lip and/or Cleft Palate, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Brittle Bone Disease, Oculoskeletal Dysplasia 1, Dwarfism-Retinal Dysplasia 1, Hereditary Vitamin D-Resistant Rickets, and other conditions
Lifespan and healthspan being two different things, your dog might have to quit things it enjoys long before its lifespan is over. Dilated cardiomyopathy, degenerative myelopathy, and glaucoma form the most common group of diseases in dogs and knowing about your dog’s genetic potential in advance will make you vet’s job much easier and more successful.
Perfect test accuracy – Embark dog DNA test explores more than 200,000 genetic markers, which brings one of the most accurate breed identification on the market. Pinpointing the exact mix of ancestors helps to focus on the diseases most likely to affect your dog.
Genetic age – Through the genetic traits of your dog, its aging process, and body size, it is possible to determine its genetic age. This is basically a translation into human years. The myth about dog years and aging is just that, a myth.
Comprehensive recommendations for your dog’s care – Accurately established genetic age will allow your vet to customize recommended food and treatments for your dog. By examining 17 genes critical for the dog’s size, your vet will know exactly how big it’s supposed to be and whether it’s overweight for its age. 50% of the dogs in the US are overweight, which hastens osteoarthritis and similar metabolic complications during senior years.
Embark has its own team of professional nutritionists, who will make a plan of nutritional recommendations, based on the unique genetic needs of your dog.
Also, different genetic compositions require different forms of exercise. Embark’s test will help you and your vet define the best activity for your pup. The Neapolitan Mastiff will definitely need a different set of exercises compared to, let’s say, the Border Collie.
DNA tests for breeders
The price is 179$ per kit and there are discounts available for bulk purchases. The kit provides both a breed-specific test and a trait test. The results will offer insights into breeding for specific size, coat color, and texture. The results also aim at helping you keep the best genetic health for your dog’s line. Other instances are the same as the basic commercial test.
Veterinarians can opt for the possibility of partnering with Embark and selling dog DNA tests in their clinics. Embark offers setting up a life-long plan for the newest clients and wholesale pricing, so their vet partners can also make a profit. The prices aren’t listed on the website, so you’ll have to contact Embark to find out more about this possibility.
Embark constantly strives to improve the life of dogs. Every test provides valuable data (when the owner allows it, of course), aimed at making new breakthroughs in the field of veterinary medicine and canine genetic science. Once given consent, the data is shared with scientists all around the world, working on hundreds of projects simultaneously. We’ve already mentioned Embark’s partnership with Cornell University, which is an important link for their efforts.
The other side of the coin holds Embark’s involvement with dog shelters in the form of financial aid, as well as logistic and scientific support.
Privacy And Security
Embark values your privacy and it will not share your or your dog’s data with anybody unless you provide an explicit approval. However, they strongly encourage their users to provide data access for aggregated, non-identifying research purposes. If you’re not interested in such a thing, you can opt-out when placing an order.
Shipping And Handling
After you’ve placed an order, the test kit will be dispatched from the warehouse within the next 1-2 business days. Embark doesn’t say anything about shipping options or where they can ship their kits, so we’ll have to leave that one to the imagination.
They only state that the arrival time may vary, which isn’t much of an informative statement, to begin with. Shipping is free, however, and the kit includes a prepaid envelope for mailing the specimen back to their lab.