Startup Embark Unlocks the Genetic Mysteries of Your Dog

July 26, 2017

3:50 pm

When people get curious about their genetic heritage, they might turn to or other genetic tracking services. For dog owners that want to understand the true ancestry of their four-legged friend, one startup provides such a service.

Austin-based Embark Veterinary built their company on a deep love for dogs and learning everything about them. Cofounders Ryan and Adam Boyko have spent the last decade learning everything they could about dogs including how to best care for our furry friends.

Their quest to help the average dog led them to discover what is different about every breed of dog and their research has taken them around the world. Their pioneering work has “revealed an origin of the domestic dog near Central Asia over 15,000 years ago and the history of dog populations around the globe.”

The company has partnered with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, one the leading veterinary school in the country, and Spencer Wells, a pioneer in consumer genetics, to create a DNA test that reveals what you need to know about your pet’s origin and predisposition to disease and health ailments.

Why is this important for a pure bred golden retriever or my mixed mutt from the pound? The DNA test can help breeders and owners not only learn about the genetic history of the dog, but gain knowledge about the breed (or breeds) and ultimately help owners prepare in advance for any potential genetic health conditions and develop a preventative health plan to avoid costly vet bills as they age.

Pet Startups

How it Works

Owners set up an account via website or app and order the kit. After sending in a simple swab test, Embark will return the results in about 6-8 weeks and you’ll know more about the breed, health and traits of your dog than ever.

The company tests for over 175 dog breeds, 160 diseases, some traits, over 200,000 genetic markers and builds your breed mix chromosome by chromosome, and provides a report for your vet. Customers can add on more tests to learn even more about their pet. Each test runs $199 and offer a test specifically for breeders and regular dog owners.

Here’s Your Dog

This example is from a DNA test on Roxy the mutt and her genetic summary of breed mix.

The test will also unveil genetic stats, family tree, the maternal line, if she’s a carrier of any genetic conditions, and more.


Embark recently announced they have raised $4.5 million in funding led by Founder Collective, Freestyle and ThirdKind led the round with participation from Bill Maris‘ new fund Section 32, Anne Wojcicki and SV Angel.

For those that want to dig into the details of their furry friend, this startup is opening the world of DNA data to them. Until then, my rescue dog with a little of this and that will continue to be my mutt mystery.

Read more about startups coming out of Austin at TechCo

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Tishin is a technology journalist and correspondent. She has written for TechCrunch, Demand Studios and Fitness, and has regular network segments on local Phoenix affiliate stations. She holds a Master's degree in Clinical and Sport psychology, and has covered many areas of technology ranging from 3D printing and game development to neurotech and funding for over 15 years.