Home » Pet Health » Genes and Cancer » Understanding Your Pet’s Genetic Test Report


Once you receive your pet’s genetic test report, it may be challenging to understand what the results mean. Be sure to speak with your vet so they can guide you through the results. The results from the test report are objective and straightforward, but how you interpret the results can significantly impact the next steps for you and your pet. Here are some things the genetic test may be able to tell you:

    • Details of your pet’s physical traits. Along with potential health risks, genetic testing can tell you your pet’s specific breed(s), ancestry, and expected physical characteristics, like their size.
    • Your pet’s temperament and behavior. Once you have more information about your pet’s breed, this can give clues about your pet’s disposition. Behavior and personality differ from pet to pet, even within the same breed. However, breed category has a prominent role in your pet’s life and temperament.
    • Health risks they may face in the future. Knowing the specific breed will guide you toward knowledge about genetic mutations and associated diseases particular to the breed. For example, Alaskan Malamutes can have a mutation in the NDRG1 gene associated with a condition called Alaskan Malamute polyneuropathy. If your dog has Alaskan Malamute ancestry, this is a gene mutation you should check.
    • Potential to pass along mutations to offspring. Pet owners who want to breed their pets are morally responsible for performing genetic tests. Testing has the potential to eradicate gene mutations and diseases from specific breeds. If genetic testing reveals that your pet has a particular gene mutation that may lead to cancer or other harmful conditions, reconsider breeding your pet.

It is important to remember that correlation does not mean causation. In other words, if your pet’s results report a mutation in a gene associated with disease development, it does not necessarily mean your pet will develop that disease. While some genetic disorders depend on a single gene, most rely on multiple genes for development. Further, pet genetic testing is far behind human genetic testing. To reliably report the results of genetic testing, testing companies must create databases of information based on testing several different species and breeds. While these databases are actively growing daily, it will take time to build up the data needed for more reliable conclusions. In the meantime, genetic testing can give you a general sense of your pet’s genetic makeup and potential health risks.

If you decide to have your pet tested, consult your vet to interpret the results correctly. Remember that the results can indicate the risk of certain diseases, but that risk can vary. Also, remember that a test showing that your furry friend has a mutation does not mean they will become sick. Discuss the results and ask your vet how best to care for your pet based on the test outcomes.

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s Website Editorial team is comprised of veterinarians, veterinary oncologists, and veterinary technicians, as well as scientific writers and editors who have attained their PhD’s in the life sciences, along with general editors and research assistants. All content found in this section goes through an extensive process with multiple review stages, to ensure this extended resource provides pet families with the most up-to-date information publicly available.

The team listing of those contributing to the information on this page is here:

Keep Your Pets Healthy Editorial Team

Last Updated: November 17, 2022

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s medical resource for pet owners is protected by copyright.

For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s Medical Illustration team is comprised of medical illustration specialists and graphic designers that work in consultation with our team of experts to create the medical art found throughout our website. Though not all medical concepts require the assistance of imagery, when a page does contain a medical illustration, credit to the artist and our medical art director will be noted here.

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s medical imagery is protected by copyright and cannot be used without prior approval that includes a mutually signed licensing agreement. Please review our Content Usage Policy.

The following sources were referenced to write the content on this page: 

Bruun, CS, Jäderlund, KH, Berendt, M, Jensen, KB, Spodsberg, EH, Gredal, H, Shelton, GD, Mickelson, JR, Minor, KM, Lohi, H, Bjerkås, I, Stigen, O, Espenes, A, Rohdin, C, Edlund, R, Ohlsson, J, Cizinauskas, S, Leifsson, PS, Drögemüller, C, Moe, L, Cirera, S & Fredholm M 2013, ‘A Gly98Val mutation in the N-Myc downstream regulated gene 1 (NDRG1) in Alaskan Malamutes with polyneuropathy’, PLoS One, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. e54547- e54554.

Gershony, L & Oberbaue, A 2020, Review of the current state of genetic testing – a living resource viewed November 17, 2022, https://www.akcchf.org/educational-resources/

Lyons, LA & Buckley RM 2020, ‘Direct-to-consumer genetic testing for domestic cats’, Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract, vol. 50, no. 5, pp. 991-1000.

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s medical resource for pet owners is protected by copyright.

For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.