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Please note that genetic age is different from calendar age. We cannot (yet) estimate calendar age—how long since your dog was born—from DNA. To learn how vets estimate calendar age you can read How old is your dog? How veterinarians estimate dog age.
The genetic age that we report is an estimation of where your dog is in his or her healthspan. Dogs age at very different rates due to a number of genetic and environmental factors. Body size is a strong genetic influence: for example, a seven year old Great Dane is at the start of his golden years, but a seven year old Pomeranian is just learning what "slow down" means. Just within this example, you can see that the old "one doggie year = seven human years" adage isn’t going to work. And yet, knowing your dog’s age is important: it informs what your dog needs as far as food, frequency of veterinary checkups, and exercise. So how do you best determine how old your dog is?
Embark's genetic age feature calculates how old your dog would be if he or she were aging at an average human rate (using humans in the USA as the baseline). So going back to our Dane/Pom example, we'd estimate a seven year old Great Dane at about 80 years old (senior citizen), but a seven year old Pom would be about 42 (adult). Makes way more sense, right?
|Calendar age||Genetic age|
|1 year||17 human years|
|2 years||25 human years|
|3 years||31 human years|
|4 years||37 human years|
|5 years||43 human years|
|6 years||49 human years|
|7 years||55 human years|
|8 years||62 human years|
|9 years||68 human years|
|10 years||74 human years|
|11 years||80 human years|
|12 years||86 human years|
|13 years||93 human years|
|14 years||99 human years|
|15 years||105 human years|
|16 years||111 human years|
All we need from you is a calendar age. It's okay if this is an estimation: it is just a starting point. We then factor in your dog's breed composition, information at certain genes that affect size, and their inbreeding coefficient to calculate genetic age. Like in humans, in dogs females tend to live longer than males (so an “80 year old” female dog = 80 year old woman). Exercise and diet also play a role in how long your dog will live. Nevertheless, genetic age is the primary risk factor for numerous diseases in dogs, including cancer, kidney disease, osteoarthritis, cataracts, cardiac disease and cognitive decline. It can help you and your vet know what you should feed your dog, what screenings to get, and other aspects of your dog’s care.
Your dog’s Wolfiness Score is based on hundreds of markers across the genome where dogs (or almost all of them) are the same, but wolves tend to be different. These markers are thought to be related to "domestication gene sweeps" where early dogs were selected for some trait. Scientists have known about “domestication gene sweeps” for years, but do not yet know why each sweep occurred. By finding rare dogs carrying a wolf gene at a certain marker, we can make associations with behavior, size, metabolism, and development that likely caused these unique signatures of “doggyness” in the genome.
Most dogs have wolfiness scores of 1% or less, although we occasionally find populations and breeds with higher scores and even some especially unique individuals with scores of 5% or more.
Your dog’s Wolfiness Score is not a measure of recent dog-wolf hybridization (the breed mix analysis report would tell you if your dog has any recent wolf ancestry). Instead, the wolfiness score is based on the number of wolf genetic markers your dog has in our unique wolfiness marker panel. While these wolf genes (or, more scientifically speaking, alleles) could be in your dog because it is a wolfdog hybrid, wolfiness scores below 10 are almost always due to ancient wolf genes that have survived many generations to be carried in your dog. These may date back to the original domestication event 15,000 years ago or to more recent dog-wolf matings only a few thousand years ago, but either way they are bits of a wild past that survive in your dog!
For people with puppies, you probably want to know how big of a crate to buy or just how big to expect your dog to become. But genetic weight is also useful for people with fully grown dogs. Just like with people, overweight and obese dogs suffer reduced length and quality of life. They can develop chronic health conditions and suffer from limited mobility and other issues. While over half of American dogs are overweight or obese, fewer than 15% of their owners realize it. By comparing your dog’s weight to their genetic predicted weight you have one more piece of information about their ideal weight. With this and other pieces of information like weight history and body condition, you and your veterinarian may want to discuss your dog’s diet, exercise, and weight control plan to give your pup the longest, healthiest life possible.
Our test is the only dog DNA test that provides true genetic size not based just on breed ancestry but based on over a dozen genes known to influence a dog’s weight. It uses the most advanced science to determine your dog’s expected weight based on their sex, the combination of these genes, and breed-specific modifiers.
Unlike in people, healthy weight in dogs is controlled largely by only a few genes. Our algorithm explains over 85% of the variance in healthy adult weight. However, due to a few as-yet-undiscovered genes and genetic interactions that affect size, this algorithm sometimes misses. Occasionally it misses by a fairly large amount especially when a dog has a breed with an unknown size-influencing gene. If we have missed your dog’s weight, your dog may be a scientific discovery waiting to happen! Please be sure to go to the Research tab and complete the Nutrition & Exercise assessment, where you can answer the question "Has your dog been weighed in the past 3 months, and if so how much does he or she weigh" by telling us your dog’s actual weight. This information will inform our ongoing research into weight, nutrition and exercise in dogs.
Haplotypes are particular DNA sequences that are inherited entirely from a dog’s mom (maternal) or dad (paternal).
Because they are inherited whole, your dog and his or her mom share the exact same maternal haplotype. If you have a male dog, your dog and his dad share the exact same paternal haplotype (female dogs don’t inherit paternal haplotypes).
Because most breeds were started with only a few individual dogs, many breeds are dominated by only one or a few haplotypes.
Haplogroups are groups of similar DNA sequences (called haplotypes) that are inherited entirely from the mother (maternal) or father (paternal) and don’t get shuffled up like other parts of your dog’s genome.
These groups all originally descend from one male or female wolf, usually one that lived tens of thousands of years ago. Because they are inherited whole and not shuffled like other DNA, they can be used to trace the ancestral routes that dogs took around the globe en route to your home.
Only male dogs have paternal haplogroups because they are determined by the Y chromosome, which only male dogs have. Both males and females have maternal haplogroups, which come from a part of DNA called the mitochondrial DNA.
All dogs are related and share some DNA. Siblings share lots of their DNA (half of it in fact), cousins share a bit less (an eighth), and so on. Because dog breeds are made up of a closed group of dogs, all dogs in that breed share a lot of their DNA, typically about as much as second cousins, though it varies by breed. Different breeds that are closely related share somewhat less DNA, and dogs from very different breeds share even less DNA (but still much more DNA than either dog shares with a cat).
DNA is inherited in pieces, called chromosomes, that are passed along from parent to offspring. Each generation, these chromosomes are broken up and shuffled a bit in a process known as recombination. So, the length of the segments your dog shares with his ancestors decreases with each generation above him: he shares longer segments with his mom than his grandma, longer segments with his grandma than his great-grandma, and so on.
We can use the length of segments Manni shares with our reference dogs to see how many generations it has been since they last shared an ancestor. Long segments of DNA that are identical to known purebred dogs tell Embark's scientists that Manni has, without a doubt, a relative from that breed. By testing over 200,000 genetic markers, we build up his genes one DNA segment at a time, to learn the ancestry with great certainty. Other dog DNA tests look at fewer than 10,000 genetic markers and have to take a guess at breed ancestry based on that.
Look closely and you'll probably find Manni has some physical and/or behavioral resemblance with his ancestor's breeds. The exact similarity depends on which parts of DNA Manni shares with each breed. Some traits associated with each breed are listed in the Breed & Ancestry section of our website. Embark will tell you even more about Manni's traits soon!
P.S. In a small proportion of cases, we find dogs that don’t share segments with other dogs we have tested, indicating the presence of a rare breed that is not part of our reference panel or possibly a true "village dog" without any purebred relatives at all. In these rare cases we contact the owner to find out more and let them know about their unique dog before they get their results. With this in-depth detective work, we are pushing science forward by identifying genetically unique groups of dogs.
Yes! Some dogs descend from other dogs that were themselves mixed breed. These other dogs can give small contributions to the ancestry of your dog, so small that they are no longer recognizable as any one particular breed. We call this portion unresolved or “Supermutt” since it confers super powers! Just kidding. But we do think supermutts really are super!
For Manni we have been able to go further, and identify some of the breeds that we think may have been part of his heritage and have contributed to the Supermutt portion of his genome. We cannot be sure, given how little of their DNA has carried down to Manni, but we thought you might like to know our best guess anyway!
Likely breeds that contribute to Supermutt:
“He's from the streets of Greece, now 10 years old and while he has always been an absolute nightmare of a beginner's dog he's my world. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and had his front right led amputated on 12/15 followed by 5 rounds of chemo. Still alive some 15 months later.”
Village dogs often have short stretches of DNA that match purebred dogs, due to a distant common ancestor or a more recent mating between a purebred and a village dog. Manni has short stretches of DNA in common with this breed:
Village dogs are the free-breeding, free-roaming “outside” dogs found around the world living in and around human settlements big and small. They are also known as island dogs, pariah dogs, or free-ranging dogs.
Many village dog populations precede the formation of modern breed dogs.
They make up about 3/4s of the billion or so dogs living on Earth today. They serve as trash cleaners, sentinels, and even sometimes companions while still retaining much of their freedom. Embark’s founders have studied village dogs on six continents since 2007 in their efforts to understand the history, traits, and health of the domestic dog. Through this work they have discovered the origins of the dog in Central Asia, and also identified genetic regions involved in domestication and local adaptation, such as the high altitude adaptation in Himalayan dogs. Embark is the only dog DNA test that includes diverse village dogs from around the world in its breed reference panel.
In a very real sense, European Village Dog is the actual breed of your dog. Village dogs like this descend from separate lines of dogs than the lines that have been bred into standardized breeds like Labradors and Poodles. If you trace the family tree of Manni back, you won’t find any ancestral dogs that are part of any of those standardized breeds.
Would you like more information? Have you found a lost dog wearing an Embark dog tag? You can contact us at:
Through Manni’s mitochondrial DNA we can trace his mother’s ancestry back to where dogs and people first became friends. This map helps you visualize the routes that his ancestors took to your home. Their story is described below the map.
Congratulations, C1 is a very exotic female lineage! It is more closely associated with maternal lineages found in wolves, foxes and jackals than with other dog lineages. So it seems dogs in this group have a common male dog ancestor who, many thousands of years ago, mated with a female wolf! This is not a common lineage in any breed, though a good number of German Shepherds and Doberman Pinchers are C1. It is also found in breeds as diverse as Peruvian Inca Orchids and Pekingese; it is rarely found amongst Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies, Siberian Huskies, or Cocker Spaniels. Despite its fascinating origins, it is widely distributed around the globe, and even shows up frequently among Peruvian village dogs. It almost certainly survived at low frequency in Europe for millennia and then was dispersed outside of Europe by colonialism, though not as successfully as some other lineages.
Part of the C1 haplogroup, this haplotype occurs most frequently in Bouvier des Flandres, Collies, and Yorkshire Terriers.
Some other Embark dogs with this haplotype:
Through Manni’s Y-chromosome we can trace his father’s ancestry back to where dogs and people first became friends. This map helps you visualize the routes that his ancestors took to your home. Their story is described below the map.
The D paternal lineage is very common in well-known populations of dogs. Breeds belonging to the D lineage likely have direct male ancestors that can be traced all the way back to the origin of domestic dogs themselves! One popular breed that commonly sports a D lineage is the Boxer. Boxers were developed in the late 19th century from Mastiff dogs, so it is no surprise that D is well represented among Mastiffs, Bulldogs, as well as Terriers. Intriguingly, D is also found among Lhasa Apsos, an ancient Tibetan breed, and Afghan Hounds. While the presence of this lineage in Polynesia or the New World can be chalked up to interbreeding with European dogs brought during voyages of discovery or later settlement, D is also well represented among village dog populations in the Middle East and Africa. If the fact that we find dogs bearing a D lineage in the Middle East (not to mention the large amount of diversity among Middle Eastern D lineage males) is any indication of ancient residence in that region, then the presence among Oceanian village dogs is peculiar. Rather, it may be that D is part of a broader Eurasian group of ancient paternal lineages which disappeared from the eastern portion of its original range, persisting in the island of New Guinea as well as West Asia and Africa. With the rise of Mastiff breeds, the D lineage received a new life as it became common among many types of working dogs.
Part of the D haplogroup, this common haplotype has been found in French Bulldogs, Afghan Hounds, Bull Terriers, and village dogs spanning from South America to Africa and into the South Pacific.
Some other Embark dogs with this haplotype: