Wisdom Panel Review - UPDATED Sep 2017
Mars Veterinary was founded in 2005, after their Breed Determination Patent was licensed by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Mars, Incorporated doesn’t need any special introduction. According to Forbes, it is the 6th largest private company in the US, netting around 33 billion dollars in annual sales. Apart from their famous chocolate program, they incorporate a pet care division as well, holding brands like Whiskas, Pedigree, Royal Canin, and many more.
In 2015/16, the Wisdom Panel 4.0 test was launched, alongside the Optimal Selection test for Felines, the first panel trait and disease feline test on the market. This Wisdom Panel review will center on uncovering the said company’s journey on providing unique insights into your pets as individuals.
How Wisdom Panel Works
Every test offered by Mars Veterinary follows a simple scheme:
- Order the chosen test online through their website.
- Collect a cheek swab of your pet, once the test kit arrives. If the swabs are damaged during transport, you’ll be sent a replacement free of charge.
- Activate your kit online and write down the activation code on the provided ID sticker.
- Mail the DNA test kit back in a pre-paid envelope/box.
- Depending on the test, it’ll take around 3 weeks for the results to arrive.
Note that you should perform a cheek swab at least 2 hours after your pet has eaten to avoid the possibility of specimen contamination. There are no such risks with water, though.
There are 2 swabs in each kit and they’ll take 5 minutes to dry after the sample collection. Be sure to put them in the protective sleeves as soon as that time frame is over to avoid potential contamination. The company states that swabbing a deceased dog will most likely provide unusable DNA samples and recommends contacting them in these types of scenarios.
Why Choose Wisdom Panel
Wisdom Panel has many strengths, which make it one of the best companies of its kind on the market. Let’s take a look at some of its major advantages:
- A division of Mars, Incorporated
- A decade of experience, almost two if we’re counting their involvement in the Canine Genomics Project in 1999
- Modern testing technology
- Constantly updating products
- Professional and knowledgeable team of geneticists and scientists
- Over 250 dog breeds checked, which covers 99% of the 180 breeds recognized by the AKC
- More than 12,000 samples in their ever-growing database
- Multiple corporations in the field, including Washington State University, Genoscoper Laboratories Finland, Geneseek, Waltham, Morris Animal Foundation, Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, and others
- Rich offer of different tests
- Patented testing technology
- Over 800,000 tests performed
- Constant research contributions
- Reasonable pricing
- Free Shipping
- Customer satisfaction guarantee
- Extensive refund policy
- Professional customer service
Mars Veterinary acts as a hub for enhancing relationships between pets and their owners, breeders, veterinarians, and shelters around the world. It also provides ample information to facilitate optimal pet care and ensure their well-being.
Wisdom Panel offers 3 different tests at this moment:
- Wisdom Panel 4.0
- Optimal Selection Canine Genetic Breeding Analysis
- Optimal Selection Feline Genetic Breeding Analysis – a recent addition to their portfolio
It is noteworthy that Optimal Selection tests are not breed-detection products. Also, keep in mind that they are only available to the residents of the United States.
Wisdom Panel 4.0
The newest iteration and a significant improvement of their 2.0 and 3.0 Wisdom Panels, it offers information to plan your dog’s training, nutrition and certain aspects of healthcare. The price is 84.99$.
Result reports are usually available within 2-3 weeks and the test can only be purchased through the Wisdom Panel website.
The results report provides you with:
- Purebred ancestors identification, down to great-grandparent level (3 generations)
- Weight profile prediction
- Information on possible physical traits
- MDR1 genetic mutation testing
- Results for Exercise-induced Collapse
The test can be performed on purebred, mixed breed, and designer dogs. Over 250 breeds are covered by the test, as we already mentioned in this Wisdom Panel review.
The procedure itself is the same for all 3 types of dogs and you can choose the specific one during your registration process. Results differ, however. Designer and purebred results provide a Principal Component Analysis Chart, which compares your dog with specimens of the same breed in the database. Purebred results will also feature an additional Homozygosity Profile.
An important caveat is that Wisdom Panel 4.0 accurately represents the ancestry of dogs recognized by the AKC registry list. This means that dogs with foreign ancestry (outside of mainland US, Canada, the UK, Germany, and Australia) aren’t depicted properly in their database. This is a severe limitation and one worthy of attention.
To give you a better perspective, you can inspect sample reports on the site, featuring mixed-breed, purebred, and designer iteration. We always look kindly upon efforts such as this, as it gives you a proper introduction to the test and the value you’ll get for the price.
Optimal Selection Canine Genetic Breeding Analysis
This is a test intended for dog breeders. It was developed by Mars Veterinary and Genoscoper Laboratories of Finland to equip breeders with the most comprehensive dog test of its kind.
The price of the test is 129.99$, but you can use a promo code at checkout for a 10% discount if you’re ordering 6 test kits or more. For the price, the test provides many advantages over traditional breeder’s techniques like pedigree analysis, for example. It’s a comprehensive breeder’s tool for developing a sustainable and proactive breeding program.
The results are usually available within 3-4 weeks.
The results include:
- Breed-tailored genetic disease report, covering more than 150 known conditions
- Reports for more than 20 traits like morphology, coat color/types, and so on
- Dog’s genetic diversity, the population of the breed and related groups
- A personal profile for the tested dog on the on an international portal for breeders that you can keep private, share, or transfer to the new owner
- Breeder Tool access, which enables you to find compatible mates based on the testing information
- Constant updates to your results based on new discoveries and breakthroughs made via new genetic submissions to the Optimal Selection database
The main purpose of this test is determining the genetic health index (GHI) of your dog. The GHI represents a relative health level of your dog’s genetic makeup, compared to previously tested dogs in the database. This is done by inspecting over 1,800 genetic markers in your dog’s genome. The average GHI value is 100.
The results of this test are not transferable to your breed registry since Optimal Selection is not envisioned as a DNA profiling test. It checks different DNA markers than profiling tests, thus the results are neither equivalent nor compatible. Although Optimal Selection is not specifically designed for DNA profiling, it does identify every tested dog as a recognizable and unique individual.
Testing puppies is also possible since their DNA signature doesn’t change over time. However, testing them while they’re still nursing is not recommended. Optimal Selection tests purebred dogs only, so if you want to test the genetic health of your mixed-breed dog, the Wisdom Panel Canine DNA Test is the only way to go.
The test is usually performed through cheek swabs, but if this method is unavailable for some reason (deceased stud), semen samples can also be used to great success. The minimal amount of semen required is 50 microliters, but 100 microliters is the recommended dosage.
Optimal Selection Feline Genetic Breeding Analysis
This is a recent addition to the Mars Veterinary testing agglomeration. The price of the test is 99.99$ and it was also developed through partnership with Genoscoper Laboratories of Finland.
The test can be ordered exclusively through the Wisdom Panel website and the results usually arrive in 3-4 weeks.
The test results include:
- Breed-specific reports for more than 30 genetic diseases
- Reports on more than 15 traits including coat colors, blood type, morphology, and coat types
- A personal profile of your cat on the international portal for breeders, similar to that for canine test
- Continuous updates as new breakthrough are made
- A breeder tool for identifying potential mates
The results are not transferable to your breed registry, testing kittens is possible, the test is applicable only to purebred cats, and semen sample from a deceased sire is viable for testing as well. Apart from the mentioned tests, Mars Veterinary also offers Wisdom Panels 2.0 and 3.0, alongside their Veterinary Test. These tests are not available on the site, though, rather through retail pet stores and e-commerce retailers, which excluded them from our Wisdom Panel review.
Wisdom Panel 2.0 inspects 321 genetic markers, 3.0 and 4.0 cover 1,800.
Mars Veterinary started its research history with the aforementioned Canine Genomics project in 1999 and has continued to do so until present times.
Every dog or cat tested is a new bundle of information to further improve our understanding of the species, provided the owner gives approval, of course. Mars Veterinary has ample technology and manpower to conduct cutting-edge research in the field and they’ve been doing it for almost 2 decades. So, testing your dogs/cats also provides valuable information on delving ever deeper into the science of animal genetics.
Privacy And Security
Mars Veterinary has a very strict policy when it comes to sharing information of any kind. They will not share data about its test subjects or your personal information with anybody, unless given your explicit consent to do so.
Sharing data about genetic profiles in their database is essential for several research projects currently being conducted, however, which is a big factor to think about.
Shipping And Handling
The company doesn’t provide any information on what shipping options are available. They are also silent about potential payment plans. This leads us to presume default shipping alternatives, but we still like to see everything specified by the company itself.