Pet lovers curious about their Fido's heritage can use a DNA test to unravel their mixed breed's mystery.

But owners are warned - there may be a sting in the tail of the $180 test.

The Carver Lake Veterinary Center on Ventura Drive, is at the forefront of a scientific drive to answer that enduring dinner table question: what breed is your dog?

Owners can take their pooch to the practice and get a detailed breakdown of the breeds which make up their mutt through a simple blood test.

It's designed to take the mystery out of mixed breeds, by showing owners the traits and behaviors of the breeds which make up their pet.

But the process could prove a double-edged sword, if the results come back with an unwelcome listing.

Dr Kate An Hunter, the owner of Carver Lake Veterinary Center, says she will not have her mixed breed tested -- in case the test confirms her suspicions that her dog has some pitbull blood, which could affect her pet insurance.

"I would definitely let someone know what the different concerns might be [with having the test]," she said.

She points out that, for most people, the genetic test is both a curiosity satisfier and a helpful aid to owners and vets when it comes to understanding their dog better.

That was certainly the case for Amber Ganyaw, a dog owner and veterinary assistant at Carver Lake, who decided to take part in the first batch of testing at the clinic.

The results of those first eight participants came back two weeks ago, telling Amber that her seven-year-old dog Lexis was part-Siberian husky, golden retriever, Pekinese, English setter and beagle.

"This is useful not only from an interest point of view, but it also allows Amber as the owner and me as the veterinarian to see these are the traits and these are the things we need to look for," explained Hunter.

"We would look for cancer in a retriever as they get older, and in a bigger dog we will watch for hip problems."

For Ganyaw, the results have ended a seven-year puzzle as to Lexis's heritage.

"When we got her, they said she was a Siberian husky mix -- she didn't look it at all, but that's what they said," she recalled.

"Because she doesn't look like any particular breed, I have always been really curious what she was.

"She's such a good dog, my husband and I thought if we knew what she was, we could look for some of the traits in another dog."

Ganyaw has been so impressed by the results, she is already planning to have the family's second mixed breed, Wookie, tested.

According to the Web site for the DNA test, known as the WISDOM Panel MX, two other pet hospitals within Woodbury offer the same service: Banfield The Pet Hospital in Tamarack Village, and Hudson Road Animal Hospital.

For more information on the Carver Lake Veterinary Center's service, visit www.carverlakevet.com

PET DNA TESTING: THE FACTS

  • Vets take a simple blood sample from your dog. The appointment lasts about 15 minutes.
  • The sample is sent off to a lab in Lincoln, Neb., where it is analyzed for genetic markers of 130 American Kennel Club breeds.
  • Preliminary reports are sent back to the veterinary center within one to two weeks. A more detailed report explaining the findings follows, about a week later.
  • The test used is known as the

WISDOM Panel MX, which claims an 84 per cent accuracy rate in validation testing.

  • For more information, visit www.wisdompanel.com