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Genetic Testing Your Dog: Can you trust those health and breed results? Presented by Dr. Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD

  • Tuesday, April 07, 2020
  • 1:00 PM
  • Friday, April 07, 2023
  • 2:00 PM
  • Recorded Webinar


  • For Doggone safe members
  • PPG member registration
  • A discounted rate for Pet Owner Members
  • Public registration

Registration is closed


Welcome to the age of genetic testing! Suddenly panels of genetic tests for dogs are relatively affordable for the average pet owner. These tests claim to tell you what your dog’s breed ancestry is (for those of us with mystery mixes) and to give you a heads-up about possible health issues. However, although similar direct-to-consumer testing is carefully regulated for humans, there is no regulation in place for them in veterinary medicine. Additionally, while trained genetic counselors are available to help interpret these results for your human family, no such speciality exists among veterinarians, and general practice veterinarians are not typically trained in this area. How much can we trust the results of these tests? Are some tests or companies more reliable than others? Dr. Hekman is a veterinarian and a genomics researcher who studies canine genetics. She will explain how these tests work, and will build on that explanation to explain the differences between various products, and which products are helpful in which situations.

Learning Objectives:

  • Be able to read canine ancestry results ("what breeds are in your mix?") with an understanding of which results are more or less reliable, and why.
  • Evaluate different genetic testing companies with an understanding of which products are better for your needs.
  • Understand and explain differences between health test results with traditional at risk/carrier/clear status versus those with more complex interpretation.
  • Describe the basics of how genetic testing works.

About The Presenter

Dr. Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD

Jessica is a veterinary researcher who is fascinated by dog behavior. After eleven years working as a computer programmer, she decided to go back to school to research the causes of behavior problems in dogs. She received her veterinary degree in 2012 from the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts, where she also received a Master's degree for her work on stress behaviors in hospitalized dogs. After graduation, she completed a year-long internship specializing in shelter medicine at the University of Florida Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program. She received her PhD in genetics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, studying a group of foxes (often known as the "Siberian silver foxes") which have been bred over many generations to be friendly to humans. She is currently working at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as a postdoctoral associate, studying the genetics of behavior in pet dogs through the Darwin's Ark project and the Working Dogs Project. Her ultimate goal is to find genetic causes of fearfulness in dogs, to work with behaviorally challenged shelter dogs, and to help people better understand the science behind dog behavior. She also frequently teaches online classes and webinars about canine genetics and behavior. Jessica lives in Raymond, NH with her husband and three dogs. You can follow her on Twitter @dogzombieblog or on Facebook at facebook.com/dogzombieblog.

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