Mixed Breed? Test Identifies Possibilities

A new blood test shows veterinarians – and clients – which breeds compose their dogs. The Wisdom Panel MX test, which became available early this month from Mars Veterinary, identifies more than 130 breeds with 95 percent accuracy, according to company information. Marketing materials suggest its use in wellness exams, though doctors say client curiosity will prompt usage.

“All vets have this conversation with their clients: ‘Gee doc, what do you think he is?’” said Michelle Drake, DVM. “And we all guess best we can. Well, now clients can actually find out” which breeds are represented.

Drake started offering the test this week at The Drake Center for Veterinary Care in California, and two clients purchased it for $170. Although Drake doubts its medical value, she believes it will be popular among clients who are curious about breed lines.

The Wisdom Panel MX blood test is said to be the only DNA-based test administered by veterinarians. A competitive DNA test sold by MetaMorphix, Inc. allows pet owners to swab a pet’s cheek and identify up to 30 breeds.

One of Drake’s clients purchased the blood test after trying the cheek swab. “She did that test and only got one answer,” Drake said. “She wants to know more information about her dog."

Mars professionals conducted research for the test over the last five years using DNA samples from 3,000 dogs. Citing statistics that half the dogs in North America are mixed breed, company officials expect demand to be high.

“We heard from so many veterinarians that there is a real need … to help new pet owners understand their pets’ inherent needs,” said Peter Markwell, DVM, chief science officer with Mars.