|Best overall||23andMe Health + Ancestry||SEE IT||
The breadth and width of the 23andMe test provide one of the best overviews in both health and ancestry.
|Best for ethnicity:||AncestryDNA||SEE IT||
Family history buffs will love the huge database and family tree options of the Ancestry DNA test.
|Best for dogs||Embark Breed + Health Dog DNA Test||SEE IT||
Find out who your dog is, where he comes from, and how you can help him be happier and healthier.
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DNA testing is no longer just for forensics and police investigations. DNA test kits are now widely available for all kinds of uses, from figuring your potential health risks to identifying the breed of your dog. At-home tests have made it much easier to learn more about who you are and where you come from at an affordable price. The best DNA test kits examine as many genetic markers as possible and go through labs that use precision and care in their results. Some may even use several types of DNA and run tests several times to confirm results.
DNA test kits vary in how samples are collected, and the results are usually focused on a specific area. For example, some kits trace genetic markers to learn more about ancestry while others compare two people’s genetic markers to determine their relationship. There are even DNA test kits to determine your dog’s breed and potential health issues. Whether you’re investigating your ancestry or confirming paternity, there’s a home DNA test kit waiting for you.
- Best overall: 23andMe Health + Ancestry
- Best value: MyHeritage DNA Test Kit
- Best for ethnicity: AncestryDNA
- Best at-home paternity test: DNA Direct Paternity Test Kit
- Best for dogs: Embark Breed + Health Dog DNA Test
How we picked the best DNA test kits
The best DNA tests give you a glimpse into who you are from the inside out. When deciding on the best kits, we considered the number of genetic markers they analyze, lab policies and practices, ease of sample collection, and presentation of the results.
- Genetic markers: The more genetic markers analyzed in a DNA test, the higher the accuracy of the results.
- Lab policies and practices: Some labs are more effective and efficient than others. While we couldn’t always find specific policies, we looked for tests that use different kinds of DNA or ran multiple tests on the sample for better accuracy.
- Sample collection: if it’s an at-home test, it should be easy to collect a sample. That includes providing instructions that are easy to follow.
- Presentation of the results: All the information in the world doesn’t help if it’s not easy to understand. Result presentation can help you determine how and what to do with your results.
The Best DNA Test Kits: Reviews and Recommendations
Best home DNA test: 23andMe Health + Ancestry
Why it made the cut: 23andMe offers a wide range of insights from maternal and paternal heritage to recessive genes and potential health conditions that make it one of the best and most comprehensive tests available.
- Time to results: 2-3 weeks
- Subscription fees: No
- Genealogy software: No
- Breadth of insights
- Analyzes three types of DNA
- Intuitive interface and dashboard
- Limited genealogy resources
As the best home DNA test, 23andMe offers two tests: an ancestry only or an ancestry plus health. Both are on the pricey side, but the ancestry plus health test gives you a broad look at your family’s past and checks for certain genetic health risks and carrier status. It also factors in and reports on genetic traits like hair loss and weight.
This 23andMe test examines both your maternal and paternal lines. You get to see how many of your ancestors evolved from Neanderthals, as well as connect with relatives through the 23andMe interface. You control your information and whether or not you make it public.
The actual testing process isn’t hard, but the amount of saliva required means it can take longer than simpler swab collection tests. Users have to register the test before sending it in. There’s a unique identifier on the kit, and it has to be registered to the name of the user before it arrives at the lab. The test kit price includes the return postage.
While this test provides a broad look at your genealogy, it doesn’t provide genealogy software for you to get a better look and understanding of your family tree. If you’re looking specifically for genealogical information, a test designed for that purpose would provide more information.
Best DNA test for health: MyHeritage DNA Test Kit
Why it made the cut: Many DNA kits provide health information, but MyHeritage puts that information into perspective to help you interpret and understand what it means and how to use it—all at an affordable price.
- Time to results: 3 to 4 weeks
- Subscription fees: For some services
- Genealogy software: Yes
- Ethnicity percentage estimate
- Includes access to expansive genealogy software
- Identifies health risks but puts them into context
- Access to certain information requires a subscription
- Takes a long time to receive results
The MyHeritage DNA Test Kit is the best DNA test for health that provides ample insight into your ancestral background and countries of origin and a good price. It uses a cheek swab to determine an ethnicity estimate, DNA matches, and premium DNA-related information for an additional subscription. However, the context that MyHeritage provides with its health information makes it a great option if you’re jumping into genetic testing.
The test analyzes DNA and genetic markers, looking for risks for various illnesses like certain cancers, Alzheimer’s, and Crohn’s disease. There’s also information on inherited genetic conditions, and you can opt out of some information if you wish. What we especially appreciate about MyHeritage is the perspective and insight that come with the health results.
There are explanations for results that say “average” or “increased risk,” so you’re not left in the dark with upsetting information. For example, it may tell you that you’re predisposed to diabetes, but the results come with information that explains that being predisposed doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop the disease.
The downside to this particular test is that certain information can only be accessed with a subscription. The MyHeritage test results also take three to four weeks to arrive, which is a couple of weeks longer than most of the other tests.
Best DNA test for ethnicity: AncestryDNA
Why it made the cut: AncestryDNA lets you expand the branches, twigs, and leaves of your family tree more than most of the other tests, making it an easy pick for identifying your ethnicity.
- Time to results: 2 to 3 weeks
- Subscription fees: Yes
- Genealogy software: Yes
- Expansive genealogy software and database with millions of users
- Interactive map and ancestral locations
- Lets you expand and build your family tree to connect with others
- Requires a subscription for full benefits
- Doesn’t offer health data
The AncestryDNA test kit focuses on genealogy information and family history. Because of its popularity as the best DNA for ethnicity, it has an extensive database where you can connect with members from all over the world. You get estimates to show how much of your genetics stems from different ethnicities. AncestryDNA also provides interactive maps that show where your family is from and offers more information about countries of origin.
When you provide your sample, you have to register the ID number on the test kit with an AncestryDNA account so the test can be identified with you. We like that AncestryDNA updates your results over time as new technology and tools evolve and improve.
However, to fully build your family tree and connect with other users, you have to pay a subscription fee. The fee goes up the more information you want to access. And if you want health data, this is not the kit for you. It’s definitely targeted to genealogy work.
Best at home paternity test: DNA Direct Paternity Test Kit
DNA Direct Solutions
Why it made the cut: This test uses 22 genetic markers to estimate the likelihood of paternity and returns results in under two weeks in most cases.
- Time to results: Approximately 7 to 14 days
- Subscription fees: No
- Genealogy software: No
- Quick test results
- Easy to swab and return results
- High genetic marker count
- Charges extra fees to retest after inconclusive results
Paternity conflicts can get ugly. As the best at home paternity test, the DNA Direct Paternity Test Kit can put a rest to arguments and accusations. This easy test requires a cheek swab, includes all of the return packaging and lab fees, and provides results in less than two weeks.
It works by comparing 22 genetic markers from the suspected father and the child. While the test results aren’t admissible in court, they’re accurate as long as the sample is taken correctly. Available paternity tests can compare anywhere from 16 to 24 genetic markers. This test balances a high genetic marker count with a relatively affordable price.
On the downside, if there’s a problem with the sample, the company charges an extra fee to rerun the test with a new sample.
Best dog DNA test kit: Embark Breed + Health Dog DNA Test
Why it made the cut: Embark provides excellent instructions and a large database with which to compare results for a more accurate look at who your dog is.
- Time to results: 2 to 4 weeks
- Subscription fees: No
- Genealogy software: No
- Excellent depth of preliminary results
- Printable and exportable results
- Provides a family tree with the breed of parents
- Complicated results take time to understand
Who knew there was so much to learn about your dog’s family tree? The best dog DNA test kit, Embark Breed + Health Dog DNA Test dives into the genetics driving your dog’s behaviors and idiosyncrasies.
The most useful piece of information it offers is a breed breakdown that estimates the dog’s breed percentages. You can even look at a family tree that suggests the breeds of your dog’s ancestors.
Like humans, dogs can be susceptible to certain diseases and illnesses. The Embark test looks for genetic deviations and susceptibilities. The information can help you make informed health decisions for your pet.
There’s so much information included with this test that it can feel a little daunting to sift through it all. You receive an initial email loaded with information, but you can also log into the Embark website for added information and exportable PDFs. There’s so much information included with this dog DNA test that it can feel a little daunting to sift through it all.
Things to consider before buying a DNA test kit
Learning about your roots can be a fascinating experience, but the process can also yield unexpected findings. Here are some factors to think about when purchasing the best DNA test kit for you.
What You’re Testing For
You should consider what you’re looking for a why before purchasing a test. If you want to learn more about your family, look for a test that includes a large genealogy database and allows you to contact potential relatives. Curious about your health risks? Look for a test that provides information about degenerative disease markers. The more you can zero in on what you’re looking for, the more likely you’ll find a test that can serve your needs.
Some tests only offer preliminary results unless you’re willing to pay a subscription fee. Others provide full access through the initial testing fee. These tests often cost more upfront but may save you money in the end. However, if you want to continually expand your family tree, a test that includes up-to-date genealogy information can be valuable.
Sample Collection and Registration
DNA test kits usually require a cheek swab or saliva for testing. Some are easier than others to do, but most include instructions to help you through the process. You do have to follow the directions carefully. Any deviation from the provided instructions can result in an inconclusive or inaccurate test.
You also need to register your test kit before sending in your sample. Most kits have some kind of identifying information that you must register on the company’s website. If you send in the kit without registering it, your results won’t correspond with an account, and you won’t receive your results.
Q: How do home DNA tests work?
Home DNA tests use genetic material collected from your cheek or saliva to compare your genetic markers and information with the company’s database. Depending on what kind of test you’re doing, the lab may check for specific genes or genetic sequences that predispose you to certain health conditions. They can also use this information to trace your family line to different countries.
Q: What’s the difference between a paternity test and a DNA test?
A paternity test compares two sets of DNA to one another, looking for similarities in their genetic markers. DNA tests go through more extensive testing, identifying genes or markers that predispose you to certain health problems or comparing your DNA to a genealogy database.
Q: Are home DNA test kits accurate?
These tests are not infallible. They tend to be more useful for identifying relatives and learning about your ancestry than making a diagnosis of a health problem. In fact, many manufacturers recommend not taking an at-home DNA test without professional support to understand the results. If you take an at-home DNA test and discover you could be predisposed to a difficult illness, talk to your doctor about further testing to verify that information. Sometimes the information learned from one of these tests can be misleading. Just because you’re predisposed to diabetes does not mean you will definitely develop the disease.
Final Thoughts on the best DNA test kit
The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test kit provides a deep look into your family tree with useful health information. It’s the best of both worlds. If you’re strictly interested in genealogy, the Ancestry DNA section of the test gives you access to a huge genealogical library of users to expand your knowledge of your family tree.