The Paw Print Genetics Blog

Tips on Sample Collection

Tips on Sample Collection
Cheek swab

Sample cheek swabs are the easiest and least invasive means of collecting cells containing genetic material from your dog. Although it is a simple process, it is important that you fully understand how to collect a sample using a cheek swab. Follow along with us as we walk you through the swabbing process using one of our sample kits.

Each kit includes a requisition form, a return mailer, a label, and a cheek swab with a biohazard bag. After reviewing the form that came with your kit, you’re ready to start the collection process. If swabbing a puppy, it is best not to take samples from a puppy that hasn’t been weaned because some of the mother’s DNA can be present due to nursing, which can contaminate the sample. Be sure to also wait for at least an hour after the dog eats or plays with shared toys before attempting to swab; excess saliva and food particles can compromise testing and reduce the quality of a sample.

When you are ready to begin swabbing, remove the swab from its protective packaging and be careful to not let anything touch the tip of the sponge. Insert the sponge between your dog's cheek and gum. Press gently to the outside, rub and roll against the cheek, while also collecting saliva for 30 seconds. Assistance with your dog is encouraged during collection. The longer you are able to keep the sponge in the dog's mouth, the better chance you have of collecting more cells which means more DNA will be available to us for testing. After you have completed the swabbing, hold the tube upright and unscrew the cap from the tube. Tube contains stabilizing liquid, do NOT spill. Next, insert the sponge tip into the tube and screw cap on tightly (you may hear a clicking sound). Invert the tube 10 times to mix the sample and place the included label on the swab.

When you’ve successfully collected your samples, place your swab sample in the provided biohazard bag. Place the biohazard bag containing your tube inside the mailer provided, along with your reviewed information form, secure it and drop the package in the mail – we’ve already handled the postage for US customers, so you don’t have to worry about it! For our Canadian customers, please be sure to follow our instructions for international shipping back to our laboratory.  You’ll receive notification when we receive your samples, and you can always track its progress in the testing process on our website by using the secure account you created at registration.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our client services team at or toll-free 855-202-4889 (direct 509-483-5950).


Adapted from Brian Lynn 2013