Dog owners are increasingly interested in using commercially available testing panels to learn about the genetics of their pets, both to identify breed ancestry and to screen for specific genetic diseases. Helping owners interpret and understand results from genetic screening panels is becoming an important issue facing veterinarians. The objective of this review article is to introduce basic concepts behind genetic studies and current genetic screening tests while highlighting their value in veterinary medicine. The potential uses and limitations of commercially available genetic testing panels as screening tests are discussed, including appropriate cautions regarding the interpretation of results. Future directions, particularly with regard to the study of common complex genetic diseases, are also described.