Home Page Forums Darwin’s Ark Results!! Question about "Unknown"

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    casey stanton

    Was so happy to get Phineus’s results!

    Extremely surprised that the highest one type of breed was ‘toy poodle’ at 14% ! 86% *not* toy poodle though 🙂

    The results also list 37% unknown, which I knew was very possible.

    My question… Is there a way to see if that 37% unknown is *one* unknown breed? or maybe two? Or is it just as likely that it’s another 10 dog breeds in there too?

    Just curious – thanks so much for Phin’s results! Looking forward to getting Nigel’s soon! 🙂 🙂


    casey stanton

    Adding – Is there a way for your lab to tell. I know I can’t see it in the results on my page. Just curious how that shows up on your end. 🙂


    kathleen morrill

    Hi Casey,

    In short, the unknown percentage of your dog’s ancestry might not be just one big section of mystery in their DNA… but many, many small sections of mysterious DNA that add up! It’s not clear what or how many breeds may exist in the unknown.

    One way we can find out is when an owner gives us feedback that they know their dog is a certain breed not yet in our reference panel. These dogs come up with a high percentage of unknown, or a closely related breed. We’ve seen this with American Pit Bull Terriers: high percentage unknown, high percentage Staffordshire. This was a good sign that we needed to add APBTs to our breed reference panel.

    We expect to minimize much of the unknown percentage as we improve our reference panel by adding more breeds.



    Will individual dogs’ results be retroactively updated as the size and robustness of the reference panel improves, or will those improvements only affect dogs analyzed after the improvements are made?


    kate battista


    I think there will be retroactive results….in the FAQ I saw this:

    “As more dogs participate, our breed ancestry analysis will delve deeper into the history of your dog’s genetics. This means that you might in the future get updated reports with adjusted or additional breed contributions to your dog’s ancestry as our 4,000,000+ markers are better and better defined.”

    Sounds promising! Wisdom panel could only account for 50% of my pup’s ancestry….the other 50 was “unknown herding breed.” So I am curious to see what these results will show.



    Thanks Kate! I knew that WP and Embark generally don’t update breed analyses over time, but they’re both always changing the array of markers they look at, so it makes sense that you’d have to purchase a new test kit if you wanted a more up-to-date analysis for your dog.


    nikki lawson

    Curious as to how long it took you to get your results. I sent mine in 2 years ago. Says received but that’s all.


    casey stanton

    @nikki I think mine were August of 2016? Also two years ago.

    I did both my dogs then and I only got results from one. Knowing his was coming, I paid the $99 a few weeks ago for my other dog.


    brittney logan

    Hi everyone,

    We do apologize for the long wait, it has been quite the endeavor.

    This project was created from scratch, as we needed to find new and improved methods in order the see what your dogs are hiding in their DNA. Things are really moving along now since we have new option for participation, and have partnered with a wonderful lab to sequencing the samples.

    We continue to send out samples, work with your data and keep sharing new discoveries with you!

    Thank you to ALL of you for you participation and patience with this research, we appreciate you and your dogs.


    kristen johnson 2

    I fully expect my dog to come back unknown. He’s such a mixed up little mutt. I never paid for a DNA test because there was a chance that he was a “super mutt” and they wouldn’t be able to tell what he was. I think they said if going back to his great grandparents were mutts then they wouldn’t be able to tell.


    julielani chang

    For ancestry, how far back can you trace (generations) and can you use phase to see what kind of genetic contributions are coming from the parents ? Is there also a propensity to pick up old breeds with your analysis ? Tx



    The data are phased; Kathleen mentioned that in her overview of how to read and understand the results. link

    I don’t know what the average generational reach would be, but the breed results aren’t reported as a family tree organized into parental lines and generations, rather as a simple bar chart ordering the detected breeds from lowest to highest percentage of ancestry. example


    kathleen morrill

    Hi Julielani,

    Jennifer is correct — through phasing the maternal and paternal DNA, we can achieve reach to the parental generation. Even then, phasing isn’t error free and can be difficult if the parents are similar genetically.

    The process is more akin to human ancestry testing, which compares to DNA from representative populations. For example, if someone tests as 20% Italian, then that means 20% of their DNA is similar to modern Italians. The Italians in that reference panel may or may not be relatives of the person testing their DNA.

    Generation/lineage tracing is best achieved when samples from multiple relatives within a family are compared. Popular human DNA testing companies have this feature because a customer usually has some family members tested as well. The best results come from also testing parents and grandparents.

    Our breed results, therefore, might not fully reflect the reality of a dog’s family history. Most dogs don’t have a known pedigree, nor samples available from multiple members of their family. But we do sometimes get enrolled dogs within a family (siblings or parent(s) with pup(s)), so we may be able to examine those families to improve phasing.

    One of our partner projects, The Working Dog Project, might achieve lineage analysis, as many working dog organizations have breeding programs in which they track family history.

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