By Paris Permenter and John Bigley

What's your dog's breed? With approximately 50 percent of the U.S. dog population composed of mixed breeds, it's a question many dog lovers hear. In the past, guesses at the breed mix were based on appearance and temperament, but now DNA testing can unlock the mystery of a dog's genetic heritage.

For less than $100, you can purchase the most common type of DNA tests that use simple cheek-swabs to obtain a sample of your dog's DNA. Laboratory analysis compares the dog's DNA sample to the company's database for matching. Presently, the Wisdom Panel Insights test has the largest database for cheek-swab tests and can compare a dog's DNA mix against 185 different breed profiles. The Wisdom Panel Professional, a test available through veterinarians and one that requires a blood sample, compares results against 225 separate breeds.

The resulting DNA report shows a dog's heritage in terms of parent, grandparent and great-grandparent generations. A 50-percent match means one parent was a purebred, which is not the case with most mixed-breed dogs that often have mixed-breed parents. For most, matches will be on a smaller percentage of their DNA, representing the mixes of their parents and grandparents. Some test results will display numerous breed results, while others may show the presence of more breeds, but at levels too small to identify using present scientific methods. Not every dog will have results, and not every breed is included in the testing.

Once obtained, test results can be shared with your veterinarian to help get a better picture of your dog's ideal size and weight and any potential health problems commonly seen in particular breeds. The test results also help dog lovers fetch just a little more information on their mixed-breed dog, providing insight into their pet's heritage, which would otherwise remain a mystery. If you are a cat lover try our Daily Cat website

Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the founders of  and the authors of Barkonomics: Tips for Frugal Fidos. The husband-and-wife team lives with its two rescue dogs, Irie and Tiki, in Texas. 

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