FAQ - DNA Collection

Why DNA?

DNA testing has become the 'gold standard' for determining an individual's genetic disease status, and for confirming parentage.

The use of DNA testing is now one of the most common testing techniques used in dog breeding, providing Breeders with important information that can help them prevent significant health issues that may be present within their chosen breed, or for ensuring that the pedigree's they are basing their breeding program decisions on are correct.

Because an individual's DNA is constant throughout life, DNA tests can be used at a very young age and the result will not change over time.

How are samples collected and tested?

In most cases, sampling involves collecting a small number of cells from the lining of the mouth – called a 'cheek swab' – however DNA can be collected from a blood sample, or even from reproductive material (i.e. semen).

Depending on the testing required, samples may be processed here in Australia, or may need to be sent to a specific overseas laboratory.  DNA laboratories use special 'markers' along the DNA strand to determine whether animals are likely to be related to each other, or whether or not they carry the genetic 'potential' to a certain disease.

Different laboratories may use different tests or different markers to do the same testing – so it is important (particularly in relation to parentage testing) that all samples are tested at the same laboratory.


Making Sure the Results are Valid

There are collection and identification protocols that Dogs Australia has outlined to ensure that test results are ‘accurate and credible’

1. DNA sample collection MUST be done by approved, independent, trained collector

  • This means that Owners or Breeder CANNOT collect samples from their own dogs – even if they are an 'Approved Collector'
  • 'Approved Collectors' include Registered Veterinarians, and trained collectors accepted by Dogs Victoria or listed by the DNA Laboratory as Approved Collectors.

2. The animal must be positively identified AT THE TIME OF COLLECTION

  • This means that the Collector MUST scan the animal's microchip and record the number against the sample on the collection form
  • Alternatively, in breeds with a recognised Australia-wide based tattoo system (such as German Shepherd Dogs), the tattoo must be positively identified and recorded against the sample

Results from tests that do not meet these two criteria are NOT considered valid by Dogs Australia, or Dogs Victoria.

Can Dogs Victoria insist on DNA testing?

There are a number of situations where Dogs Victoria may insist on DNA testing:

  1. In the case of Multiple Sire Litters (Dogs Australia Regulations Part 6 - Section 6.7)
  2. Where the parentage of a dog or litter is disputed or uncertain (Dogs Australia Regulations Part 6 - Section 2)

Examples could include where a breeder requests a change to the parent listed on a Litter Registration after the litter has been processed, or where the parentage is disputed because the colour of one or more pups in the litter should not be possible given the colours of the parents.

In the case of disputed or uncertain parentage, the Owner or Breeder of the animal(s) may be directed by Dogs Victoria to have samples collected by a certain Collector, or sent to a particular laboratory for assessment. 

They may also assign a person to co-ordinate the testing and there will be a required timeframe for testing to occur.

You can read Dogs Australia Regulations Part 6 - Section 2 – Testing of Dogs by clicking here

In the case of an Intentional or Unintentional Multiple Sire Litter, the breeder is required to provide DNA test Certificates for the Dam of the litter, each of the multiple sires, and each of the puppies at the time of registering the litter(s).

This has to be accompanied by a Certificate by a Veterinarian providing an interpretation of the results as to the correct parentage.

You can read the Dogs Australia Regulations Part 6 – Section 6.7 – Multiple Sire Litters by clicking here


Where can I learn more about DNA testing?

You can learn more about the DNA sampling and testing process by visiting the various DNA Laboratory websites - examples include Orivet, or InfogeneNZ 

In most cases, the laboratory will provide a 'kit' containing swabs, paperwork and tamper proof packaging for the sample to be returned in. 

There will also be information on how to prepare your dogs for sampling, and some websites even have short videos of the sampling process (such as this one from InfogeneNZ) so you can know what to expect.