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. The company really cares about the well-being of our animal family members. It constantly collects data by working closely with numerous breeders and veterinarians. Partnering with Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine also gave Embark an excellent platform for researching how to improve dog wellness.
How Embark Works
Ordering and conducting a dog DNA test is as straightforward as it gets. It consists of the following steps:
- You start off by ordering the DNA test kit online.
- The shipment will leave the company’s warehouse within 1-2 work days.
- The test kit will contain cheek swabs and detailed instructions 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.
- The interactive results will arrive between 2 and 4 weeks after the lab receives the samples. 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 its 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
- International 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.
Embark offers two tests for the general public: the Breed Identification Kit and the Breed + Health Kit. Both kits provide extensive information regarding the breed identification and ancestry of your dog. The Breed + Health Kit also includes a complete health screening in addition to the breed identification and ancestry report. The company offers specialized health-specific tests for breeders as well.
Embark Dog DNA Breed + Health Kit
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 250 different breeds, allowing you to 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 the 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 165 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 can make your 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 – An 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. Half of all 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 for your dog based on its unique genetic needs.
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.
Embark Dog DNA Breed Identification Kit – The price for this test is 129$ per kit. The Embark Dog DNA Breed Identification Kit uses the same science and testing as the Breed + Health Kit, delivering you the same results, without the Health and Traits report. You have the option to upgrade this test at any time.
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, as well as 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.
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 explicit approval. However, it strongly encourages its 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. Note that Embark also ships its testing kits to international addresses. The company states that the arrival time may vary depending on your geographic location. Shipping is free, however, and the kit includes a prepaid envelope for mailing the specimen back to the lab.
Embark is one of the youngest companies of its kind, being founded a couple of years back. Being that young, however, hasn’t stopped people from already calling them “23andMe for dogs.” Embark was a successful startup, which gave birth to a passionate and professional Austin-based dog DNA testing company.
Our dedicated Embark review has shed enough light on the company to see a brotherly tandem dedicating their lives and professional careers to dogs and their well-being. The test it offers is the marvel of modern genetic science, providing vital information for dog breeders, veterinarians, and proud owners.
All that’s left to say is that Embark is definitely here to stay. It does have some work to do, but what it did in such a short time period is definitely impressive.
I would NOT recommend this to anyone. It was a gift so we decided to give it a shot, the results they finally emailed were laughable. Too many errors.
Totally impressed!!! I knew what my dog was bought as (cockapoo) but because my vet said he did not have the hair of a cocker spaniel or a poodle he suggested dna testing! I did not submit photos or any information about my dog to embark except “cute puppy” comment. I did not give any background at all and my results came back cockapoo! 50/50 cocker poodle, which is what I bought! The health screening also was amazing. I had bloodwork done on him and his ALT was low. His testing reported that his alt genetically low and I was advised to tell my vet to find my dogs normal. In case it goes up, even in normal limits could signify an issue with his liver since he is genetically low. I already knew this was low in his blood work and now I feel so much better that this is his normal!!!
Great job embark! I will recommend! You nailed it!
Clearly I was scammed. In determining haplotypes, I was flat out told there was too few Y-chromosome markers to pinpoint my dogs paternal haplotype. “Relatives” are only maternal, and contains dogs from all over the US, plus one in China. Breed results and a family tree show that approximately a 60 pound dog mated with a 25 pound dog that produced a dog that mated with a 12 pound dog, that gave birth to my 25 pound dog. He herds everything in site, but is apparently more miniature pinscher than anything else. If only I could post a picture. I am demanding at the least a retest before taking this to the BBB.
Embark’s genetic defect tests are accepted and validated. Their phenotype and traits analysis exhibit very poor accuracy. Their “breed” analysis is completely inaccurate. Despite acknowledging the limitations, and saying its “not for purebred dogs” they still issue reports that identify dogs that are show champions with stellar pedigrees as mixed breeds – of course, calling into question ALL breed analysis, since if you cannot get the purebreds correct, how could you possibly get the mixes? When questioned, its not their problem, they are not willing to reassess or correct the reports, but say they will do so sometime in the future. The ONLY thing I can recommend Embark for is the genetic disease markers, most of which are irrelevant to the majority of dogs.
I wish I saw this prior to buying my kit for my dog in December. It was completely wrong regarding his breed and I no longer trust the company. It is a lot of money to spend for inaccurate information.
Very tough to compare products. I am the voluntary liasson for my breed. MARS Wisdom panel currently uses 7,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) while Embark uses 230,000 which means that they have the capacity to do a lot more research, marker development and relatedness analysis. With our breeder tool we can project Genetic Litter COI and guard against losing more DNA from the gene pool.. The Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) is measured in two areas which looks at immune health and susceptibility to autoimmune disease. In addition we are developing a survey for breed specific parameters which can feed the data to fast track discovery. A little in price but it packs a punch. The citizens platform is possible because you own the results and can own them collectively. Add a vet report and professional oversight and the decision is easy, especially as a breeder. Pet owners are getting involved too. When you love a breed it takes everyone working in the same direction to make the biggest difference. Otherwise you are at the mercy of industry and reasearch to “get around to” addressing the issues. It’s the data accumulation with survey that is the most powerful.
Preservation Breeding is here to stay!
Great test for genetic health – about 170 tests for genetic defect markers and genes. Interesting results for size, behavior, health, and appearance. A complete waste on breed type. We submitted two unrelated purebred dogs with well documented, verified pedigrees. One came back as two breed mix (one correct) and the other as a supermutt with only trace amount of the correct breed. Oh, and dont forget to set your privacy settings as soon as you get your reports – otherwise the world and see them, and they stamp the “alleged breed type” on all the reports, including the genetic ones
Not impressed, too many errors
super satisfied with the service! Now we know that my little cupcake part Golden retriever part German Shepherd.
Embark is the best! They showed me grandparents of my little guy and told me he’s in risk to get some nasty condition, so we started vet treatments right away.
My little snowball is reaching his doggy old age and i did the Embark test to see if he’s in risk of some illnesses. Luckily it’s just little too heavy for its own good, but we’ll work on that. Great service and a really doggy friendly experience.
Pretty neat, but more expensive than some other tests i ordered.
I really liked all the tutorials and videos, and the instruction they send you with the kit. They’re really holding your hand through the whole thing.