Embark With Us

Embark is more than a product, or even a company.

It is a promise to share the journey of a lifetime with you and your dog.

You invite Embark, via their dog DNA test and website, into your home to help you understand and improve your Golden’s health and your Breeding Program like never before.

The Golden Retriever Diversity Project and Embark invite you to join us in making new discoveries in dog health, wellness, care and understanding via our research questions, continual results updates, social media, and events.

Why They Do It

Embark provides the only dog DNA test that uses a research-grade DNA microarray. This allows them to provide the most accurate and comprehensive results on the market, but more importantly, it allows Embark and Breed Partners such as the Golden Retriever Diversity Project to do on-going research to make new genetic discoveries. Research is focused on expanding genetic testing, improving personalized veterinary medicine, and developing new breeding programs to eliminate preventable disease in Golden Retrievers through Genetic Testing.

Genetic Testing in Action

Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis is a progressive degenerative disease of the central nervous system. In 2015, this fatal illness was discovered by the University of Missouri in a small number of Affected Golden Retrievers. In Golden Retrievers, NCL is caused by a two base pair deletion in the CLN5 gene – and is called NCL5. The University of Missouri identified this with a whole genome sequence, generated with DNA from one Affected dog.

Golden Retrievers with NCL5 begin to develop signs of the disease at 13 – 15 months of age. The first symptoms of NCL are a loss of coordination during basic movements including walking, running, and climbing stairs. Symptoms are particularly noticeable when the dog is excited. As the disease progresses, the loss of coordination becomes evident even when the dogs is calm; the dogs may also experience tremors, seizures, or blindness. Compulsive behaviors, pacing and circling, anxiety, and loss of previously learned behavior is also common. Affected dogs may also become agitated or aggressive as the disease continues to progress. They often suffer from localized and generalized seizures. Due to the severity of the disease and loss of quality of life, most Affected dogs are euthanized by 2-3 years of age.

NCL5 is a recessive, progressive neurodegenerative disease occurring only in Golden Retrievers. Because NCL5 is recessive, a dog must inherit a copy of the mutation from each parent in order to be affected. No signs of NCL will appear if the dog has only one copy of the mutation, although it will be a Carrier of the disease. When breeding two Carriers together, there is a 25% chance per puppy born that it will develop symptoms of NCL5. By doing Genetic Testing, you will know if your dog is a Carrier or Affected for any disease – and you can use that information when making breeding choices to avoid breeded Affected Dogs.

Sadly, even though NCL5 was identified in 2015 in a small number of Golden Retrievers, its existence was not widely publicized in the Golden Retriever Community and Breeders were mostly unaware of its existence until tragedy struck. In 2018, another Golden became ill and through investigation her Breeders connected with the University of Missouri and the NCL5 problem became widely known. Unfortunately it was too late – a number of Carrier x Carrier breedings had recently occurred and approximately 30 Affected Goldens were identified through Genetic Testing at the University of Missouri using the test for NCL5 they developed based on their previous research.

But unbeknown to Breeders, Embark had already been testing for NCL5 with their new full-assay technology since 2016 – with no Affected or Carrier dogs being submitted for testing for them to report. Had Breeders known in 2015 this was a Genetic issue to test for, lots of heartache could have been avoided.

Genetic mutations can occur at any time in a population, resulting in conditions such as NCL5. The Embark microarray panel tests for a large variety of genetic conditions, and new ones are added based on research. Embark uses publicly shared research to constantly updated their test – and they share the research they do from test results. If a trend or new genetic condition is noticed, they will be sharing that with the Golden Retriever Diversity Project so that we can share it with Breeders and the GRCA. The more Goldens that are tested with Embark, the more broad-based data there will be to share with researchers. And hopefully, we won’t have to face another situation like this in the future with a deadly disease.

Going forward, Breeders must test their Goldens to insure they are avoiding Carrier x Carrier breedings for this fatal genetic disease.

Join the Golden Retriever Diversity Project and Embark in utilizing the most state-of-the-art Genetic Testing available and know you are contributing to research and improving the health of Golden Retrievers!

Ryan Boyko

Founder & CEO

Ryan founded Embark after a decade spent using novel analytical approaches to tackle tough questions in public health, ecology, and industry. From Ebola outbreaks to retailer analytics to social evolution and sports science, Ryan has worked and published across a number of fields. Throughout that time, Ryan traveled the world collecting dog samples and contributing to a number of scientific studies. Ryan founded Embark to bring the insights from that research to dog owners and unlock the potential for Big Data to improve the lives of dogs and humans the world over. He has a BA in Computer Science from Harvard and graduate degrees in public health and ecology from Yale and the University of California at Davis.

Adam Boyko

Founder & Chief Science Officer

Adam is an associate professor in Biomedical Sciences at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, focused on the genomic investigation of dogs. Adam’s research has addressed fundamental questions of dog evolution and history, disease and trait mapping, and advancing genomic tools for canine research. Adam has coauthored over 40 peer-reviewed scientific papers, including research in Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and received an MS in Computer Science and a PhD in Biology from Purdue University before his postdoctoral work at Cornell and Stanford.

Our Pact

To Make An Impact

Unlock lineage to drive longevity for all dogkind.

Every dog in our database brings us closer to realizing our mission of ending preventable disease in dogs. Our decision to develop a proprietary research-grade DNA genotyping platform at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine was rooted in establishing technology that enabled us to have the greatest potential to make future genetic discoveries.

You can reach the Breeder Team directly at breeders@embarkvet.com

It’s Easy to Order…

Embark tests for all of the recommended Golden Retriever Genetics Tests and over 160 Genetic Conditions. In addition, you’ll receive lots of information not available anywhere else about your dog’s Genetic COI. All at one low all-inclusive price of $129 – no Coupon, Membership or Waiting required. Just enter Discount Code: Gold3nH3alth