Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Test Review

Now that I’ve used the Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA test on four of my pups, I figured it was high time to write a review. I mean, I have written about this topic on this blog before albeit briefly.

For example, I put something about my experience in this blog post about giving experience gifts.

One of my comments: I believe that anyone who has rescued or adopted a pup and doesn’t know what breed it is would love receiving a doggie DNA test kit like the essential one from Wisdom Panel.

So, clearly I like the notion of being able to find out what breed your rescue dog is. I mean, as I said, I’ve done this with four of our dogs.

But before I get deep into my review, let me backup a bit and explain just what a dog DNA test is.

Portions of this article originally appeared on Next Tribe.

What is the Wisdom Panel Essential DNA dog test?

A doggie DNA test takes the genetic material you’ve submitted from your dog. Then, it looks for common traits that it links to breeds. In other words, that DNA sample provides insights into your dog’s breed and, in some cases, its health.

Don’t worry, that genetic material collection doesn’t hurt your pup. Also, it doesn’t involve having to collect anything scatological like you would a poop sample for the vet.

Whereas with a human ancestry test you spit into a tube, you can’t really get your dog to do that. With dogs, you need to swab their cheeks. To do this, the kit comes with a brush that looks like a mascara wand. To get the swab, you run it along the inside of your dog’s mouth.

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You do this in the cheek area, not along your dog’s gums. When I was doing the Wisdom Panel Essential kit the first time, I just followed the instructions. They were easy to understand.

Registering your kit

Each Wisdom Panel kit needs to be registered. Otherwise, there’s no way that the company would know who you are, who your dog is and where to send the results once the testing is done.

Send off your dog’s DNA matter for testing

Your Wisdom Panel Essential DNA test kit comes with a prepaid envelope. This makes mailing the sample back easy and free.

Then, two to three weeks later, you’ll get an email letting you know that your DNA results are ready to be read online. However, in the busy holiday season, it might take longer to get your results. With my first dog, it took six weeks to get that email that my results were ready.

This will include a suggested family tree for your dog. Even now, years after doing these DNA tests with my current dogs, Oscar and Sadie, I can still see their DNA reports online.

What kind of dog is that?

With every dog I’ve owned, two things have happened, because we get rescue breeds.

One, I walk my dogs so much each day that I get known to be, pretty quickly, that crazy dog lady. So often people I don’t know will stop me and ask, “How many times a day do you walk your dogs?”

Kind of creepy, I know. Therefore, I try to change up my routes daily. But to answer their question, it is one to three times a day, depending on the weather.

Two, because we’ve only ever had rescues or mixed breeds, people are forever stopping and asking, “What kind of dog is that?” For example, when Sadie was still a puppy, I’ll never forget the little girl who stopped and asked if Sadie’s ears were chocolate dipped.

What my dogs look like

You see, Sadie is an all black dog. However, her ears have a reddish brown tinge to them. She also has the same coloring between her toes.

Or at least she did when she was a puppy. However, now that she’s nine years old, a lot of that reddish brown has turned to gray.

But, sometimes on sunny days, when the light hits her fur just right, you can still see the chocolate effect, if you will.

Here is a picture of both of my current dogs, Oscar and Sadie.

Best DNA test for mixed-breed dogs

Having used the Wisdom Panel on four dogs, I can tell you that I think it is the best DNA test for mixed-breed dogs.


Because it really gets into the specific of the breeds they find in your dog’s DNA. Just check out the results for Sadie and Oscar.

Sadie’s dog DNA test results from Wisdom Panel

Since I’ve mentioned Sadie’s chocolate-dipped ears, let me start with her DNA results.

I can tell you that her results really shocked us.


Well, the rescue we’d adopted her from described her as a spaniel mix.

I thought maybe Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or maybe Cocker Spaniel.


What’s a redbone coonhound

Sadie was 50% “companion” breed group (basically, dogs bred to be a companion), and 50% redbone coonhound.

We had to Google “redbone coonhound,” having never seen one in real life.

But they are really reddish, thus their name and the red tinge we see in Sadie’s fur.

Turns out redbone coonhounds are a Southern dog.

We grew up in the Northeast.

Also, redbone coonhounds have a starring role in the classic children’s novel “Where the Red Fern Grows.”

I guess if I’d read this book when I was younger, this breed essentially wouldn’t have been so foreign to me.

Sadie’s family tree

I’ve included a picture of the family tree that Wisdom Panel sent to us with her DNA results.

Essentially, she is half a pure breed–the breed being the aforementioned redbone coonhound.

But the other half of her family tree?

All mixed breeds.

Those groups of companion breeds include:

  • Bichon frise
  • Pug
  • Pomeranian
  • Shih Tzu

Ancestry results change over time

Here’s something interesting about the so-called Breed Groups that Wisdom Panel identified.

When we first got these test results a few years ago, Pekingnese was also listed as a Companion Breed Group that Sadie could have in her ancestry.

However, when I revisited her results to write this review, Pekingnese was gone.

I guess like with human DNA tests, Wisdom Panel’s DNA dog test results change over time.

That is, the more samples they have to compare, the more they can refine the outcomes.

I mean, when I first did my Ancestry DNA test, I came back as being 30% Irish.

Then, a few years later I got an email updating my heritage.

My Irish was down to 10%.

Now, my Irish is down to 2% but I’m 20% Scottish.

So, go figure.

Oscar’s dog DNA test results from Wisdom Panel

When we adopted Oscar, the rescue told us he was a Catahoula Leopard dog.

Well, it was back to Google we went to figure out what the hell a Catahoula was.

However, Oscar’s DNA test told us something very different than the rescue did.

To be honest, with his curly tail like a question mark, I was concerned he would come back having Chow in him.

I know that Chows are biters.

We’d previously had a dog with fear aggression who was a biter.

However, Oscar’s personality is the polar opposite of that dog that bit people.

If you raise your voice around Oscar, he will roll over and pee himself.

What breeds was Oscar

Not surprisingly, not only did Oscar’s DNA come back without Chow (whew!) but also without Catahoula.

In fact, the Wisdom Panel kit results identified three breeds that essentially made up one-third of his DNA.

What are those breeds?

One, German Shepherd Dog (12.5%).

Two, Lhasa Apso (12.5%).

Three, Australian Shepherd (12.5%).

What about the remaining 63 percent?

Mixed breeds of unknown origin, says Wisdom Panel.

However, the results say these unknown breeds could be in the hound, companion or terrier family.

Well, if you look at Oscar, his face looks like a beagle so hound makes sense.

His trunk is a gray brindle color like an Australian Shepherd.

And his deep bark?

Totally German Shepherd.

His family tree shows how the three breeds are likely divided in his background.

That is, one parent’s side is a German Shepherd mixed breed.

On the other is likely a dog that was a mix of the Australian Shepherd and Lhasa Apso.

However, I have to say–I do not see Lhasa Apso in Oscar at all.

Different Wisdom Panel doggie DNA tests

As I mentioned we used the Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Kit. However, there are two so-called levels of these tests. Here’s what they each cover.

Wisdom Panel Essential

The Wisdom Panel Essential is the cheapest of the tests. It’s cheaper because it covers fewer things in your dog’s DNA. Honestly, it’s the one we selected because sometimes too much information can be overwhelming.

So, what does the Essential test cover?

  • Screens for 365+ breeds
  • Test for 25+ genetic health conditions
  • Find your dog’s relatives
  • Test for 50+ physical traits
Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Test

What does the Wisdom Panel Essential test cover?

  • Screens for 365+ breeds
  • Test for 25+ genetic health conditions
  • Find your dog’s relatives
  • Test for 50+ physical traits

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Also, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Wisdom Panel Premium

This is the second level of dog DNA tests from Wisdom Panel. Not surprisingly, it’s a bit more expensive but that’s because it covers more than the Essential kit does. It includes:

  • Screens for 365+ breeds
  • Test for 265+ genetic health conditions
  • Find your dog’s relatives
  • Test for 50+ physical traits
  • Discuss ‘at risk’ health findings with a vet

So, the biggest difference is screening for potential health issues with your dog. Is that worth the extra money? I’m not 100% sure.

Wisdom Panel Premium Dog DNA Test

The Wisdom Panel Premium Dog DNA Test covers the following:

  • Screens for 365+ breeds
  • Test for 265+ genetic health conditions
  • Find your dog’s relatives
  • Test for 50+ physical traits
  • Discuss 'at risk' health findings with a vet

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Also, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Coupon code

Sometimes Wisdom Panel will offer coupon codes that pet parents can use to save money. These coupon codes work on the Wisdom Panel website only, not Amazon. When I come across them, I’ll let you know.

Questions about Wisdom Panel Dog DNA kits

It’s possible you may still have questions about these doggie DNA kits. So let me address some of the most common questions I’ve received or read about with regards to this product.

How accurate is Wisdom Panel?

The accuracy of any DNA test relies on how many samples they have to compare your pet’s DNA to. It’s the same with human DNA tests. That’s why my heritage has changed over time.

When I went back to my dog Sadie’s results, they hadn’t changed at all. However, Wisdom Panel had added some additional info about how they determined that she was 50% Redbone Coonhound.

“Once your sample reaches our lab, it’s scanned into our database and assigned a batch for testing. The DNA from Sadie’s cells is extracted so we can examine it against 1800+ genetic markers. We then take a close look at Sadie’s DNA, in a process called genotyping, comparing the results, known as genotypes, with the genotypes of more than 15,000 breed samples in our database. Those results are then fed into a computer that evaluates them, using an algorithm that considers all of the possible pedigree trees going back three generations, or to Sadie’s great-grandparents. A staggering 17,000,000+ combinations of possible ancestry trees are considered before being narrowed down to 11 final trees.”

Wisdom Panel

How many generations back does Wisdom Panel go?

With all of my dogs, the Wisdom Panel test went back to their great grandparents. So, three generations. Also, the graphics they use to show the family tree has changed since we first used the test.

Take a look at Oscar’s family tree going back three generations. You can clearly see that one of his great grandparents was a German Shepherd Dog on one side of his family. Then, on the side of the family, one great grandparent was an Australian Shepherd. This makes sense given his brindle coat.

In fact, in the new iteration of the Wisdom Panel test, they provide pictures of dog’s that show up in your pup’s ancestry. This can help give you a hint towards their coat color and coat type (wiry versus smooth) as it did with Oscar’s brindle coloring, or even your dog’s eye color.

oscar dog dna family tree three generations
Photo credit: Courtesy Wisdom Panel.

How accurate are Wisdom Panel tests?

Again, accuracy depends on how many people are sending in dog DNA. At this point Wisdom Panel reports that it has 15,000 breed samples in its database and can search for 1,800 genetic markers to help identify what kind of dog yours is.

There is a caveat to this accuracy. Notice the blue question mark on Ocsar’s family tree? When I click on it, I get this result.

llaso apso in oscars dog dna test
Photo credit: Courtesy Wisdom Panel.

So, basically it’s saying that it is giving you a best guess that somewhere down the line in his genetic background, Oscar’s family included a Lhasa Apso. However, this is farther down his lineage beyond three generations so they can’t be sure how much or what percentage of his genetic makeup is Lhasa Apso.

How long does Wisdom Panel take to analyze DNA?

Each time we tested our dog’s DNA, it took Wisdom Panel about three weeks to analyze the dog’s results. Then, we got an email directing us to log into our Wisdom Panel account to see them.

By the way, you have to create a Wisdom Panel account in order to activate your kit. Without this activation, Wisdom Panel doesn’t know what to do with the DNA sample when you send it in. So, please don’t forget this important step.

What this doggie DNA kit cannot do

With the Wisdom Panel Premium kit, it says that it provides health insights. It can provide some insight into genetic disorders your dog might have or medical complications it may develop later in life.

Interestingly, Oscar’s results included a test for a genetic mutation, which he did not have. However, they tested for it in case there were any health risks for which he had a predisposition. Thankfully, he didn’t.

On the other hand, even though there was a line in Sadie’s results about her genetic health results, there wasn’t anything to show.

This simply could be that we adopted Sadie two years before we adopted Oscar. So, there was a two-year difference from when we used Wisdom Panel for Sadie and then Oscar. It is possible that the technology changed so much in that time.

Why I think the Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA kit is worth it

My husband jokes that spending money on a doggie DNA kit shows we have too much disposable income. Maybe it does.

However, is the Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA kit worth the money?

Does it make a great gift? I’ll say it again–if you rescue your dogs and want to know their breed, it is totally worth it.

Especially if you have mixed breeds and want a sense of what your dog actually is–not just what they look like.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to give an experience gift to someone else with a rescue, again, this doggie DNA kit is worth it.

Finally, now, when I walk Sadie and Oscar around town and someone asks, “What kind of dog is that?” I can answer with a degree of certainty.

Where to purchase

You can buy Wisdom Panel DNA kits on the following websites:





Wisdom Panel vs. Embark

Right now there are two big players on the dog DNA scene. They are Wisdom Panel and Embark. If you’ve made it to this point in my article, then you know we are repeat customers for Wisdom Panel.

However, since I know readers are interested in how Embark stacks up to Wisdom Panel, I’m going to order an Embark kit. Once I get the results back, I’ll update this article or write a new one that compares Embark vs Wisdom Panel.

In the meantime, if you’ve been fortunate enough to do both kinds of DNA kits, I’d love to hear about your experience.

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