Skip to Main Content

Lisa Marr wanted to know more about the 2-year-old Australian cattle dog she had adopted in Missouri. So like a growing number of dog owners, the Ohio college professor bought a kit to test his DNA.

In February, she took a saliva sample from Badge and mailed it to Embark Veterinary, a Boston startup. A few weeks later, she learned that he is indeed a purebred. But Embark also sent her an email containing what it said “could be alarming news.”


As part of the $140 test, Embark screened Badge for about 170 genetic conditions and found that he had two copies of a mutation linked to a form of progressive retinal atrophy, which causes blindness. Marr, a 55-year-old biology professor who lives outside of Columbus, felt better after an Ohio veterinary ophthalmologist and other cattle dog owners told her it could be years before Badge goes blind.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!