Cheek Swab Collection Guidelines

Cheek Swab Collection Kit Policy

U.S. and Canadian Clients

Paw Print Genetics will ship a collection kit containing three of our preferred swabs directly to you if you are ordering from within the United States or Canada. Swabs shipped from Paw Print Genetics are pre-labeled with all of the relevant information for each dog, conveniently providing you with appropriate sample identification and sample tracking.

International Clients

International clients (those outside of the United States and Canada) must provide their own cheek swab collection kits. Any cheek swabs you provide must meet the criteria outlined below.

Purchasing Cheek Swabs

Paw Print Genetics prefers that clients providing their own swabs use one of the following:

  • GUM® Proxabrush® Go-Betweens® Cleaners, Wide (link)
  • Puritan sterile swabs (link)

Many other types of swabs are acceptable to submit. If you are unsure about your type of swabs, please contact us.

Cheek Swab Criteria

Paw Print Genetics accepts cheek swabs purchased from a variety of venders so long as they meet the following criteria:

  1. A minimum of three swabs per dog.
  2. Swabs have a cotton, polyester, nylon or brush-type (histobrush or cytobrush) tip.
  3. The swab is not contained in transport or sterile media.

Although we have successfully extracted sufficient DNA from a variety of the most common, commercially available collection kits, there is a risk that certain swab types which have not been validated by our laboratory will perform poorly and may require a new sample.

Careful adherence to the Cheek Swab Sample Collection Instructions is the most critical element to obtaining the best possible sample regardless of the swab type used and will help minimize the possibility of failure due to variability in the collection kits.

Swabbing Instructions

We recommend viewing the Paw Print Genetics dog swabbing guide prior to swabbing your dog.
  1. Print the Requisition Form for your order.
    To find your requestion, go to the 'My Orders' page, find your order from the list, then click the 'Requisition' button under the 'Download' section.
  2. Review and correct any errors or omissions on the requisition, then sign the form.
  3. Remove a sterile swab from its protective packaging. Be very careful to not let anything touch the tip of the swab.
  4. Insert the swab between your dog's cheek and gum. Use gentle pressure on the outside of your dog's cheek while rotating the swab in a back-and-forth motion on the inside of your dog's cheek. Do this for a slow count of 30, pressing against the cheek and gently rotating and rolling the swab.
  5. Return the swab to its original protective packaging and repeat the process with the remaining swabs. If the swab does not have a protective package, place the swabs for each dog in a separate clean, letter-size envelope and seal it. Write the dog's call name and the Paw Print Genetics' Dog ID # on the outside of the envelope.
    Make sure to keep each dog's swabs in a separate package/envelope to prevent cross-contamination.
  6. Place each package or envelope containing swabs into a sturdy mailing envelope. Include the signed Requisition Form in the mailer making sure it has no contact with the swabs to eliminate possible contamination.
  7. If you are shipping from outside of the United States, please follow our US Customs Instructions.
  8. Mail your samples back to our lab using one of the following addresses:

    • For shipments via USPS
    • Paw Print Genetics
    • PO Box 28250
    • Spokane, WA 99228-8250
    • USA
    • For overnight and 2 day shipments via (FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc.)
    • Paw Print Genetics
    • 220 E. Rowan, Suite 220
    • Spokane, WA 99207
    • USA

Tips for Obtaining the Best Possible Sample

In addition to the tips provided here, you can refer to our article Tips on Collecting a Swab Sample or watch our instructional video (see above).

  1. If possible, puppies should be weaned prior to obtaining samples due to potential contamination from the mother's cells. Do not provide food for the puppies, but do provide plenty of water to drink.
    • If the puppies have not been weaned, separate the puppies from the mother and each other for at least one hour prior to swabbing and rinse each puppy's mouth with water.
  2. Do not let dogs eat for at least one hour prior to swabbing. Drinking water is acceptable and may help rinse the mouth of puppies that have not been weaned and moisten the mouth.
  3. For at least an hour prior to swabbing, the dog should be isolated from toys or other objects that are shared by multiple dogs. Inspect your dog's mouth to ensure there are no food particles or other material and rinse your dog's mouth if needed.
  4. When swabbing multiple dogs, be careful to avoid touching the inside of any dog's mouth with your own hands. Wash your hands between swabbing dogs.
  5. Once a swab has been removed from its packaging, never touch the swab to anything other than the inside of the dog's mouth.
  6. Swabbing the dog's mouth is a simple but critical step.
    • Keep the swab in the mouth of the dog for as close to 30 seconds as possible.
    • The longer you are able to keep the swab 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.
    • Short 5-10 second collection times may not be enough time to collect sufficient cells.
    • Once the swab is in the dog's mouth, swirling and twisting the swab while applying gentle pressure on the outside of the cheek against the swab can help collect more cells.
    • Swab a different area of the mouth with each swab.
  7. Immediately after using a swab, carefully return it to it's original packaging or a clean envelope and label it appropriately.
  8. Be prepared to ship your samples on the same day or the next day in which you collect the samples.
  9. Do not freeze or refrigerate samples prior to shipping. Do NOT use dry ice, regular ice, or cold packs when shipping your samples. Moisture can promote bacterial growth. Keeping the samples cool and dry is ideal.