Embark review – How much about your pup can DNA tell you?

Embark Review Summary

Embark is a company that offers genetic testing for dogs and provides ancestry and health reports. Read more in our Embark review!

Nebula Genomics

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Summary

Embark is a DNA testing company for dogs that offers options for breed and health information. It tends to be more expensive than competitor brands.

4.3

7 Facts from our Embark Review

  1. The world’s first company to offer a “canine relative finder,” meaning you can find and connect with your dog’s siblings, cousins, and other relatives.
  2. Embark compares your dog’s DNA to 350+ breeds including, street dogs, wolves, coyotes, and dingos. 
  3. Embark uses custom canine microarrays developed by leading dog geneticists and professors at Cornell University.
  4. Embark gives a full breakdown of your dog’s breed makeup; you can also get a health testing kit to check for over 190 health conditions.
  5. It also offers package discounts for breeders. This is a convenient option for testing an entire litter or the compatibility of two dogs for breeding. 
  6. You can also opt in to share your dogs results to help contribute to dog genetics research.
  7. Since you are buying a DNA test for your dog, how about sequencing your genome? Nebula Genomics offers the most affordable Whole Genome Sequencing that decodes 100% of your DNA.

This review is written with the intent to be as unbiased as possible. However, it represents the opinion of an individual reviewer and is therefore subjective. Furthermore, at Nebula Genomics we seek to educate the public about the benefits of Whole Genome Sequencing. Information about our Whole Genome Sequencing DNA test is therefore incorporated into the review.

September 19, 2022

Edited by Christina Swords, Ph.D.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Most comprehensive health screen for your pup on the market with 350+ Breeds Screen
  • Connect with your dog’s relatives and participate in research about dogs
  • Test for over 160 genetic diseases
  • Easy to use
  • Users receive access to raw data
  • Excellent customer service and vet team to help interpret results

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Data can be complicated
  • Some users feel that the test may be inaccurate

Introduction

Embark was founded by brothers Ryan and Adam Boyko in Austin, TX, in 2015. Before starting Embark, the brothers worked on dog DNA research to determine the history of where and when dogs were first domesticated.

Embark offers two kit options, one for DNA breed identification and one for breed identification + health information. Pet owners send in a cheek swab from their dog and get results in 3-5 weeks. The data and interpretation are available in the web browser with an account.

It also allows dog owners to share DNA data from their dog’s test to be used for investigation. Along with its partners at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, research from Embark has already helped explain what genes cause blue eyes in huskies.

Embark might sound like a good option for your pup. But when it comes to humans, Nebula Genomics offers a convenient sequencing service. This comprehensive DNA test will empower you to get deep insights into your health and ancestry. We have the kind of perks that would make your pet wag her tail with utter joy! Click here to find out more!

Review of Embark Science

Embark is an easy-to-use at-home DNA kit for your dog! The kit includes a swab and tube to collect a saliva sample from your dog. Then, the company isolates DNA and uses that to analyze your dog’s genetics.

Embark collection kit
The embark collection kit includes a swab and a special tube to effectively obtain a saliva sample from your dog

The Embark dog DNA test uses microarray technology to find more than 200,000 genetic markers for your dog. This is the same method that many companies use to test human DNA.

Review of How Embark Works

Collecting a DNA sample is as painless and easy as getting your dog to sit, stay, and drool.

Open the swab kit, and place the swab on your dog’s cheek for 30 seconds. After this, put the swab in the test tube and shake. Then you have to activate your account on embark.com and drop the package in the mail.

Dog owner obtaining a saliva sample from their dog using the cheek pouch included in the kit
The procedure for collecting your dog’s saliva is simple and safe

Dogs of the same breed will share a lot of overlap in their DNA. The company determines your dog’s makeup by comparing your dog’s results to different purebred dogs. This method is more accurate than an assessment based merely on appearance and physical examination.

You can learn about your dog’s breed from German shepherds to pit bulls. And it allows you to find breeds that are even a tiny percentage of your dog’s ancestry. 

Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to some genetic diseases and problems. The Embark kit lets you pinpoint what conditions might be relevant to your dog. The health screening test identifies genetic health conditions from 16 areas, including blood, immune, eyes, skeletal, heart, kidney, bladder, brain, spinal cord, and many more. You also get information about your dog’s genetic diversity and level of inbreeding.

Embark Report Review

You can view test results for Embark’s Chief Executive Dog, Harley, on the website. You can also look through many other sample dog reports posted on the website, including purebreds, mixed breeds, and designer crosses.

Keep reading for a summary review of the Embark report sections.

Report Summary

The summary includes:

  • A genetic breed results breakdown section
  • Genetic stats
  • Other similar dogs
  • A breakdown by chromosome

This is an exciting and fun way to see your dog’s genetic makeup. You also get some examples of other dogs with similar breed mixes.

Example of an Embark breed report showing the breeds and percent of each present in a mixed dog.
This genetic breed result reveals the breeds found in a mixed dog
The Breed Origins section breaks down the breed present in each chromosome and in what amount
Colorful representation of each breed present in every dog chromosome
Example of Embark genetic stats and breed mix matches
Example of Embark genetic stats and breed mix matches

Family Tree

The family tree section estimates your dog’s family tree back to their great grandparents. Embark uses an algorithm to make this prediction. It is the best guess at dogs who share your dog’s breed ancestry.

Embark Health

The health section includes any potentially problematic variants in your dog’s DNA. It also explains what those health results might mean for your dog or their offspring, the disease, and potential actions owners can take. Someone from the Embark team will reach out to you if any frightening health issues show up.

Example of a Health Summary
Example of an Embark Health Summary

Embark Traits

The traits section shows some genetic variants that affect your dogs appearance. These are broken down into distinct categories: base coat color, coat color modifiers, coat traits, other body features, body size, and performance. 

Example of an Embark trait report
Example of an Embark trait report

Embark Maternal and Paternal Haplotype

A haplotype is a group of genes that create a signature that can tell us about our ancestry and how our (or our dog’s) ancestors moved throughout the world. The maternal haplotype comes only from mitochondrial DNA because all mitochondria are passed on by the mother.

On the other hand, the paternal haplotype is traced on the Y-chromosome. Males can trace maternal and paternal haplotypes because they have mitochondrial DNA and a Y chromosome. Females, who have mitochondrial DNA but no Y chromosome, can only trace their maternal ancestry.

Description of a dog's mitochondrial DNA and a world map showing the route of ancestors through history
The maternal haplotype traces a dog’s maternal ancestry through their mitochondrial DNA

Review of Embark Products

The Breed ID kit and the Breed + Health Kit claim to break down your dog’s breed makeup percentage. The health kit gives additional results for 190 health conditions, inbreeding scores, and genetic traits.

Embark DNA tests
FeaturesBreed IDBreed + Health
350+ Breeds ScreenYesYes
Family TreeYes Yes
Relative FinderYes Yes
Research SurveysYesYes
20+ Physical Trait ReportsNoYes
190+ Genetic Health RisksNoYes
Inbreeding ScoreNoYes
Price$129$199

Alternative Products

The most well-known dog DNA testing kits on the market are Wisdom Panel and Embark. They are at different price points and offer various levels of information about your pet’s DNA.

ProductFeaturesPrice
Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA TestOptions for breed identification and some health information. Simpler and less information in report$100
DNA My Dog BreedQuick 2 week turnaround. Lower price point. It only gives breed results. No health screenings, and it does not break down breed by percentage$70
Orivet Dog DNABreed, genetic traits, common diseases, profile. Targeted to vets and breedersSeveral options
American Kennel Club DNA TestThis test is for purebred dogs only and is used to verify parenthood. It allows AKC breeders to have DNA results registered with their dog’s lineage$45

You may be interested in comparing costs to determine the best Dog DNA test kit for you!

Embark in the News

Other Embark Reviews

Reviews on Amazon.com: 4.7/5 with over 12,000 reviews (Currently on sale for $139, 30% Discount).

Amazon reviews for Embark Breed + Health kit are mainly positive. Most reviews highlight that the kit was interesting, informative, and detailed. And the few negative reviews seem to claim that the results they obtained for their pup were inaccurate.

Nebula Genomics

At the moment, Nebula Genomics isn’t offering dog genetic testing. But why not get yourself tested at the same time as your dog? Nebula provides a secure and complete option for human genetic testing.

Nebula Genomics helps customers make sense of their data. The Nebula Research Library hosts constantly updated research that will help you understand your genetic results. We also have a host of DNA exploration tools and ancestry discovery.

Nebula puts a focus on giving you control of your DNA data. We prioritize security and let you control what happens with your data and who can access it. It is easy to download your whole genome sequence to do your own analysis, share with health care professionals, or input into other analytics systems. 

For more information on genetic sequencing technology, check out our Intro to DNA Testing Methods and other articles on our blog.

But let’s circle back to your pooch. Want to learn more about DNA testing for your pets? Wisdom Panel, DNA My Dog, and Paw Print Genetics are other DNA tests for dogs while Basepaws is genetic testing for your cat.

You may also be interested in specialty-designed pet food, treats, and supplements from Ultimate Pet Nutrition!

Did you find our Embark review helpful? You can read more reviews on our blog and check out our complete guide to the best DNA test kit and other home tests.