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Choosing a Genetic Test Provider

    Choosing a genetic test provider can be daunting. This short article helps you to consider what is important to you, and your dogs, in finding the right test provider for you. 

    Aren't all test providers the same?
    There are a lot of different choices of genetic test providers (GTPs), so choosing one that is trustworthy and also providing the service you need, can be daunting. Currently, there is no single international standard that covers the quality of tests provided, how tests are performed, or how test results are reported, and genetic advice/counselling. This means that very robust test providers can initially be hard to pick out from the crowd. Even though there isn’t an international “approved” stamp for canine DNA test providers, you can still look at what steps test providers take to demonstrate their commitment to providing a robust service. The Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs project catalogues a wide-variety of ways that genetic test providers (GTPs) can describe the different kinds of systems and practices they have in place to provide their service.

    You should think about:

    • Does the GTP have any formal national or international accreditation?
    • Does the GTP provide breeding advice, or can they refer me to help? (not always important, but if you’re a beginner, it can be helpful!)
    • What steps does the GTP take to make sure that test results are accurate, and if they make mistakes, how do they fix them?
    • Does the GTP support research, have publications, work directly with Breed Clubs…?
    • Will they answer questions about test results?
    • Do they have actual scientists, veterinary scientists, and/or geneticists working for or with them?
    • Can I phone them? Email only?
    • Do I feel confident that the tests offered are based on good science, and applicable to my dog?
    • Is it important to have a provider or service in my country, or in my preferred language?

    How can the HGTD database help?

    The database answers these questions by working with GTPs to publish transparent information about how to contact a GTP, where they are located, information on their staff and experts, accreditation, quality assurance, sample handling quality, research, and much more. You can also see general information about the phenes (diseases or attributes) that are being tested for.

    Key to choosing the right provider is understanding what your needs are, and what quality measures assure you that you are getting the service that provides you with the information to make informed decisions for your dog, based on accurate test results. 

    You can read more in Getting Started with Testing

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Here in the U.S., our club, the Black Russian Terrier Club of America ( has elected to team with to offer a battery of genetic testing through a single sample submission for $99.00, if purchased through our club website.  The price for the battery of testing is normally $140.00 I believe.  This group rate and bundled testing will be beneficial to our members and their breeding decisions and be possible at a price most breeders can afford.  It also replaces multiple tests from other labs that collectively cost two or three times as much.  Regardless of what testing lab breeders use, we are also hoping that people from all over the world will want to have their canine's test results logged with so that we can all have one single, effective, globally accessible central repository/database to deposit our information and from which to draw genetic data for breeding decision-making.  If we could get global participation, what a fantastic resource this would be to improve the lives of every breed in a great many parts of the world. An initiative is also in the planning phase for collection of all BRT medical, rearing, temperament, growth, environment, and any other records an owner is willing to archive.  The records would be donated to a central collection point either during the BRTs life or postumously, scanned electronically, and kept for future research.  At the first 5 year point and consecutive 5-year increments thereafter, a research grant would be available for a veterinarian university or similar group/researcher to correlate the data in an effort to determine what effects beyond genetics are produced in BRTs as a result of the way they were whelped, raised, given health care, trained, exercised, fed, medicated, etc.  I was wondering what your organization's thoughts on these initiatives might be?  

Kindest Regards, Dave Eikelberg,

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Thanks for the comment David.  In general, we are in support of international data collection.  Quite a few kennel clubs are building health and pedigree-linked databases, some of which are publicly available.  The concept of OFA as a register is encouraging.

As with all these efforts, many side issues arise, including data quality on identification of the dog and parents, quality and relevance of DNA test results and many more.  IPFD with our collaborators and via the International Dog Health Workshops continues to support and promote these efforts, as well as international collaboration, sharing and transparency,

In terms of an international breed database, again, great resource.  If you have not yet seen it, please check out the Irish Wolfhound Database.  They are doing an amazing job in all aspects.  Maura Lyons and Per-Arne Flatberg presented on this resource at the 4th IDHW and you can see all posters here.  And Per-Arne's presentation can be downloaded here.  Also know that you can message them via

We also are built on the foundation of community engagement, so absolutely great to have people like you weighing in.  Please share links, data and descriptions, any time, with our Content Manager Ann Milligan.


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Hello again Dr. Bonnett,

I took your splendid advice and explored what the UK Irish Wolfhound organization is doing.   I must say they are (in so far as I am familiar with these things) quite an outstanding benchmark in their efforts.  I personally have seen none better.  This includes not only their health testing, historical records collection efforts, and health research initiatives, but even the very content and usability of their web site/presence.  Most of the rest of us would do well to emulate their efforts!  It is my hope that we in the U.S. Black Russian Terrier Club of America ( can advance our efforts in a similar manner.  We have a lot of catching up to do and it is so encouraging to have their organization as a model after which we can pattern and fast track our own efforts.  Many thanks to the Irish Wolfhound folks for standing up..., doing what needed to be done in such an outstanding and organized manner..., and sharing it with the rest of us..., so that we can move forward with our own breed enhancement efforts.  As with the Irish Wolfhound and many other breeds, the BRT is so very deserving of our best efforts!  FAVORITE QUOTE: About the Black Russian Terrier: “He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, and his leader.  He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.  You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.”

What a wonderful sentiment, which I am sure applies to nearly every breed.  After all they do for us, we owe them nothing but the very best.

Thank You Dr. Bonnett and Thank You to the UK Irish Wolfhound Organization for your outstanding leadership.  

Respectfully Submitted,

Dave Eikelberg

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