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How long does color genetic testing take?

How long does color genetic testing take?

Color genetic testing, also known as coat color DNA testing, is used to determine the genes responsible for an animal’s coat color and pattern. This type of testing can be done on dogs, cats, horses, and other animals. It analyzes the DNA within hair follicles to identify the variants present in specific pigmentation genes. Knowing an animal’s genetic makeup for coat color allows breeders to better plan matings to avoid undesirable colors and patterns. It also helps owners and veterinarians understand why their animal has a certain coat appearance. So how long does it take to get color genetic testing results? The total turnaround time is generally 2-4 weeks from the time the DNA sample is received by the laboratory until results are available. However, several key steps influence the overall timeframe.

Preparing and Sending the DNA Sample

The first step in color genetic testing is collecting a DNA sample from the animal. This is usually done by plucking around 30-50 hair follicles or using a cheek swab to collect epithelial cells from the inside of the animal’s mouth. Once the sample is obtained, it must be packaged as instructed by the particular laboratory doing the testing. Most labs provide a collection kit that contains the needed supplies for sampling and mailing. Properly packaging the sample prevents degradation during shipping and ensures it arrives at the lab in good condition. Sending the sample promptly, rather than letting it sit for many days, also reduces the chance of DNA degradation. Allow 2-4 days for your sample to reach the laboratory via standard mail service.

Lab Processing Time

Once the DNA sample arrives at the testing laboratory, the real processing work begins. First, the sample must pass inspection to confirm it meets the quantity and quality standards for extraction. Next, the actual DNA extraction takes place to isolate the DNA from the hair or cheek cells. The purified DNA then undergoes polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify the relevant gene regions that control coat color and patterns. Finally, sequencing of the PCR products is performed to identify the variants present in each gene. Depending on the lab’s throughput and protocols, this testing pipeline generally takes 1-2 weeks to complete.

Analysis and Report Generation

After the genetic sequences are obtained, bioinformatic and statistical analysis must be done to interpret the results. Trained scientists review all data to determine the specific variants present in the sample. They then put together a detailed report describing the coat color and pattern genes and how they interact to create the animal’s physical appearance. The conclusions take into account the science of pigmentation genetics as well as how genotypes correlate to real-world phenotypes. It often requires careful study of breeding records and pedigree information to ensure accuracy. Completing the analysis and report typically takes 1-2 weeks, depending on the lab.

Return of Results

Once the testing laboratory has finished its analysis and finalized the report, results are issued to the owner/breeder who submitted the DNA sample. Most labs send results via email as a digital PDF document that can be printed. Results may also be accessible through online accounts. In some cases, hard copy results are mailed out, which extends turnaround time by a few days. But generally, emailed digital reports are available within 1-3 days of the lab completing the work.

Factors Affecting Turnaround Time

Several key factors can influence turnaround time for color genetic testing:

Factor Effect on Timing
Sample quality Poor quality samples require re-collection and extend turnaround.
Lab testing capacity Labs with high throughput generally have quicker turnaround.
Complexity of analysis Rare colors or mixed breed analysis takes more time.
Repeat testing Reruns due to failures extend turnaround by 1-2 weeks.

Following the lab’s collection instructions carefully and providing complete information about the animal with the sample can help minimize delays.

Rush Testing Options

Some genetic testing labs offer expedited turnaround options for an extra fee. Rush testing is generally complete in 5-7 business days, significantly faster than the standard 2-4 weeks. To utilize rush service, indicate the need for fast results when submitting your sample. The rush fee is usually an additional $50-100 on top of the regular testing cost. Turnaround for rush testing still varies based on factors like sample quality and analysis complexity.


To summarize, the typical turnaround time for color genetic testing from start to finish is 2-4 weeks. However, quick submission of a high-quality sample and use of a laboratory with streamlined processes can help achieve results on the shorter end of this timeframe. Consider paying rush fees if you need faster results. With planning, color genetic testing can be accomplished in just a few weeks to aid breeding management and satisfy curiosity about a animal’s special coat.