DNA and Parentage Verification

DNA and Parentage Verification

Get the lowdown on the DNA and parentage verification requirements for registering your new American Quarter Horse.

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Note: Updated May 3, 2024

Since AQHA's inception in 1940, science and information technology have advanced by leaps and bounds, making it easier than ever to verify an American Quarter Horse's identity. Utilizing these advancements, AQHA has certain DNA testing and parentage verification requirements in place to protect owners and breeders of American Quarter Horses, and to protect the integrity of the breed.

A common question that we hear from AQHA members is, "What is the difference between DNA typing and parentage verification?" The truth is there isn't much of a difference. A DNA test derives the genetic markers of an individual horse. Think of it like a fingerprint. Each horse has its own unique genetic marker. Parentage verification still obtains that genetic marker, but it also compares it to the sire and dam recorded for that horse. Basically, parentage verification makes sure the dam is the horse's mother and the sire is the horse's father.

AQHA has made genetic testing  a requirement in some instances.

Does Your Horse Need DNA Typing or Parentage Verification?

Check out the list below to see if your horse needs to be DNA typed or parentage verified:

DNA typing is required if:

  • Your horse is a stallion that is breeding mares.

  • Your horse is a mare that is being bred and was foaled in 1989 or later.

Parentage verification is required if:

  • Your horse's sire or dam was under the age of 2 at the time a foal was conceived.

  • Your horse was the result of embryo transfer.

  • Your horse was conceived by the use of frozen semen or cooled semen that was transported.

  • Your horse is more than 48 months of age at the time the application for registration is received by AQHA.

  • Your horse's dam was exposed to more than one stallion within a 30-day time period.

  • Your horse has excessive white markings, as specified in Rule REG109.8.

  • Your horse is foaled after January 1, 2007, and is a descendant of the stallion Impressive 0767246 (see Rule REG109.3.3).

  • Your horse is going to be raced.

  • Your weanling is going to be entered into an AQHA world championship show.

If your horse qualifies under one of the stipulations listed above or if you just plain want to have the DNA test done, download a genetic testing order form, or contact the AQHA Member Experience Team to order a kit by phone with a debit or credit card. Current fees for genetic testing are $55 and $120 for nonmembers.

Genetic Testing Points to Know

  • Genetic testing only needs to be performed once in a horse's lifetime.

  • A horse cannot be parentage verified if his sire and dam are not both DNA typed.

  • When a sample is submitted to the lab, AQHA automatically parentage verifies horses that are eligible, and will reprint the certificate free of charge to show your horse has been parentage verified upon request.

Health Panel Test

AQHA offers a genetic health panel test that checks your horse for six genetic diseases:  hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP), polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM1), hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia (HERDA), malignant hyperthermia (MH), glycogen branching enzyme deficiency (GBED), myosin-heavy chain myopathy (MYHM).

All stallions are required to have a genetic health panel test on file with AQHA prior to the registration of their foals.

The genetic health panel tests are $100 for AQHA members and $165 for nonmembers. For the panel test in conjunction with the DNA test required for most breeding stock, the cost is $120 for members and $185 for nonmembers. Learn more about AQHA's health panel test.