In US, every dog has its $200 DNA test

AFPUpdated: Monday, April 18, 2022, 08:57 AM IST
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st AFP WASHINGTON The routine is now a familiar one: Open the kit, swirl a swab around, put it in solution and wait impatiently for the results. Except this time it's not a test for Covid - - it's a DNA test for dogs.

The kits, which are used foremost to learn a dog's breeds, first appeared some 15 years ago and their popularity has since exploded in the United States, where nearly 40 percent of all families have at least one canine companion.

"Having a dog and integrating them as a member of your family, you want to know where they are from," said Mila Bartos, a Washington lawyer.

One of the most popular test brands, Embark Vet, told AFP it experienced 235 percent growth between 2019 and 2020 alone. And the pandemic has only amplified the trend.

At around $100 to $200 a pop, the tests are not cheap. But in a country where dogs are king, the price hasn't been a major deterrent for many pet owners.

In 2020 alone, Americans spent nearly $104 billion on their animal companions, according to the American Pet Products Association -- a sum that is the equivalent of the GDP of Slovakia.

The tests are simple: a saliva sample is taken from inside a dog's jowl and sent by mail, with results coming back generally two weeks to a month later.

Sometimes, when a new pup parent has adopted a purebred dog, the test is meant to verify that there has been no error in the dog's one-breed lineage.

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