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How To Collect DNA

Visitors since April 6, 2005
Alaskan Malamute Research Foundation

Types of DNA samples and
how to take a DNA sample from your dog

Cheek Swabs:

This is the most common method for collecting DNA on dogs today. To take a sample from your dog, do the following:

  1. Wash your hands before and between dogs.
  2. Take a minimum of 2 swabs per dog - taking 3 swabs per dog is even more ideal for research purposes.
  3. DO NOT take a mouth swab from a dog that has eaten within 2 hours or less - dog food has animal DNA in it, and can get mixed in with your dog's DNA.
  4. Take the swab out of the package - peel back just the top quarter of the wrapper to get the swab out.
  5. Rub the swab inside the dog's mouth between the cheek and the gum line - you can rub it back and forth as well as twirl it. You don't need to make the dog bleed - you are just collecting cells from the gum surface.
  6. Put the swab back in the wrapper - DO NOT tape the wrapper. Moisture sealed in with the swab can cause the swab to mold, damaging the DNA.
  7. Put some type of identification on the wrapper - the call name and your last name, the AKC number, the registered name, a code, etc.
  8. These samples can last for decades as long as they are kept in a clean, dry container.
  9. If these sample are being taken for a current research project, then send them to the research university as soon as possible. Be sure to ship them in a container that will not allow moisture to get at the samples (i.e. shipping them in a paper envelope is probably not the best idea).

Hair samples:

Some labs are now using hair samples to collect DNA. At this time, none of the research facilities we are using do. However, in the near future, surely most research facilities will have the technology to do so. Cheek swabs are a much better way to get DNA, however, additionally having hair samples in storage may not be a bad idea. The hair must be "plucked" to ideally get a significant amount of DNA (i.e. has to have the follicle on the end of the hair). Samples can be stored in Ziploc bags, but leave one end of the bag open so that moisture does not accumulate in the bag resulting in molding of the sample.

Blood samples:

Of all the sources to obtain DNA from your dog, blood samples are the best. They provide a very large amount of DNA for projects. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Blood must be put into a "purple" topped EDTA tube.
  2. The samples must be sent on ice to the university - do not freeze the samples, just keep them cool.
  3. They must be sent to the university ASAP (within days) of taking the samples.

They can not be stored in the dog owner's home for decades like cheek and hair samples can. Blood samples are good for only a week or slightly longer.

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