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?
Personalized genetic age table for Pala
17 human years
25 human years
31 human years
37 human years
43 human years
49 human years
55 human years
61 human years
67 human years
74 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.
How wolfy is my dog?
Most dogs have wolfiness scores of 1% or less. We find populations and breeds with higher scores of 2-4% occasionally, and unique dogs with scores of 5% or above more rarely.
What it means for my dog
Your dog’s Wolfiness Score is not a measure of recent dog-wolf hybridization and does not necessarily indicate that your dog has some recent wolf ancestors. (If your dog has recent wolf ancestors, you will see that in the breed mix report.) Instead, the Wolfiness Score is based on the number of ancient genetic variants your dog has in our unique Wolfiness marker panel. Wolfiness scores up to 10% are almost always due to ancient wolf genes that survived many generations, rather than any recent wolf ancestors. These ancient genes may be a few thousand years old, or may even date back to the original domestication event 15,000 years ago. They are bits of a wild past that survive in your dog!
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 an ancient variant 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.
Predicted Adult Weight
How does weight matter?
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.
How do we predict weight?
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.
How accurate is the predicted weight?
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.
Revealing your dog’s ancient heritage
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.
Revealing your dog’s ancient heritage
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.
Breed analysis is based on comparing your dog’s DNA with the DNA of dogs from over 250 breeds, types and varieties.
How are Pala's ancestors represented in her 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 her ancestors decreases with each generation above her: she shares longer segments with her mom than her grandma, longer segments with her grandma than her great-grandma, and so on.
How does Embark know which breeds are in Pala?
We can use the length of segments Pala 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 Pala has, without a doubt, a relative from that breed. By testing over 200,000 genetic markers, we build up her genes one DNA segment at a time, to learn the ancestry with great certainty. Other dog DNA tests look at many fewer genetic markers and have to take a guess at breed ancestry based on that.
What does this mean for Pala's looks and behavior?
Look closely and you'll probably find Pala has some physical and/or behavioral resemblance with her ancestor's breeds. The exact similarity depends on which parts of DNA Pala 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 Pala'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 Pala we have been able to go further, and identify some of the breeds that we think may have been part
of her heritage and have contributed to the Supermutt portion of her genome.
We cannot be sure, given how little of their DNA has carried down to Pala, but we thought you might like
to know our best guess anyway!
“Pala showed up on my porch one day when I was living in a village in Cameroon; I patted her on the head and gave her some food, and she never left! I feel honored to have been adopted by such a spirited, resilient, hilarious dog -- with an excellent hunting instinct. Getting her to America was one of the most stressful experiences (for both of us), but I couldn't imagine not having her here. She's a fantastic little African-American pup.”
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. Pala has short stretches of DNA in common with
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.
So what breeds are in my dog?
In a very real sense, African 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 Pala back, you won’t find any ancestral dogs that are part of any of those standardized breeds.
African village dogs live in many different environments: desert, plains, forest, woodland, mountains, and more. As such, African village dogs vary as widely as African cultures. Despite their differences, they all tend to be independent and resourceful, and can make excellent companions if adopted young and raised in the right environment.
have lived just about everywhere across the world for thousands of years. Long
before there were any recognized dog breeds, there were village dogs around the fires and trash heaps of early human
villages. Pala is part of this ancient heritage, not descended from a specific
breed, but continuing the ancient lineage of dogs that were our first, best friends.
Embark's co-founders studied Village Dogs on six continents in their efforts to understand the history, traits, and
health of the domestic dog. Through this work, they discovered evidence for the origins of the dog in Central Asia
, and they also identified
genetic regions involved in domestication and local adaptation. As a result, Embark has the largest Village Dog
reference panel of any canine genetics company.
We compared Pala's DNA to a global panel of thousands of village dogs.
This plot highlights regions of the world where Pala's DNA is most similar to
those village dogs. The areas of darkest red reflect the greatest similarity to our village dog panel.
Through Pala’s mitochondrial DNA we can trace her mother’s ancestry back to where dogs and people first became friends.
This map helps you visualize the routes that her ancestors took to your home. Their story is described below the map.
This female lineage likely stems from some of the original Central Asian wolves that were domesticated into modern dogs starting about 15,000 years ago. It seemed to be a fairly rare dog line for most of dog history until the past 300 years, when the lineage seemed to “explode” out and spread quickly. What really separates this group from the pack is its presence in Alaskan village dogs and Samoyeds. It is possible that this was an indigenous lineage brought to the Americas from Siberia when people were first starting to make that trip themselves! We see this lineage pop up in overwhelming numbers of Irish Wolfhounds, and it also occurs frequently in popular large breeds like Bernese Mountain Dogs, Saint Bernards and Great Danes. Shetland Sheepdogs are also common members of this maternal line, and we see it a lot in Boxers, too. Though it may be all mixed up with European dogs thanks to recent breeding events, its origins in the Americas makes it a very exciting lineage for sure!
Part of the large A1e haplogroup, we have spotted this haplotype in village dogs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the Dominican Republic. Among breeds, we see it frequently in big dogs like Saint Bernards, Leonbergers, and Great Danes. However, we also see it in small breeds including wire Fox Terriers and Rat Terriers. That’s a pretty wide size range!
The Paternal Haplotype reveals a dog’s deep ancestral lineage, stretching back thousands of years to the original domestication of dogs.
Are you looking for information on the breeds that Pala inherited from her mom and dad? Check out her breed breakdown and family tree.
Paternal Haplotype is determined by looking at a dog’s Y-chromosome—but not all dogs have Y-chromosomes!
Why can’t we show Paternal Haplotype results for female dogs?
All dogs have two sex chromosomes. Female dogs have two X-chromosomes (XX) and male dogs have one X-chromosome and one Y-chromosome (XY). When having offspring, female (XX) dogs always pass an X-chromosome to their puppy. Male (XY) dogs can pass either an X or a Y-chromosome—if the puppy receives an X-chromosome from its father then it will be a female (XX) puppy and if it receives a Y-chromosome then it will be a male (XY) puppy.
As you can see, Y-chromosomes are passed down from a male dog only to its male offspring.
Since Pala is a female (XX) dog, she has no Y-chromosome for us to analyze and determine a paternal haplotype.