Comparing MyHeritage DNA results with 23andme and FTDNA


Junior Member
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Paris, France
Ethnic group
English, Scottish, Irish, French and German
Y-DNA haplogroup
mtDNA haplogroup
Hi there,

This is a message for those of you who are more scientifically inclined than me in the field of genetics/the trend of DNA testing to find out ethnicity. I'm interested in genealogy and I figured doing a few DNA tests could perhaps help me discover new information about my ancestors. I've done tests with FTDNA (1st test) and 23andme (2nd test), and recently I decided to upload my 23andme raw data to MyHeritage DNA.

To give you some background on me, my paper trail points to mostly British Isles ancestry (tipping slightly more towards Scottish background, although I've got a healthy chunk of English and Irish in there), but I have one great-great grandfather who was from the island of Guernsey (one of the Channel Islands off the coast of France) and his background seems to have been "French" (as indicated by the surnames in his family and based on a newspaper article that indicates him as being of French descent, which he must've told the person who wrote the article). Family lore suggests that my Guernsey family previously hailed from Normandy (they were Protestants) going back prior to the 1600s. My Y-DNA haplogroup, which traces back to this same GG-grandfather, is I-Z140, which seems to be associated with Scandinavia, so I suppose my "French" origins may go back to Vikings that came from Scandinavia to Normandy, and later migrated to Guernsey because of religious persecution.

I also seem to have some German ancestry, although my paper trail is very spotty/unsure going back beyond 1841. Concerning that particular line, my grandfather claimed to have an ancestor that he described as being "Prussian Jew", but again, I haven't been able to go far enough back to confirm this. Lastly, there is also a possibility (based on family lore and my DNA test results) that I have a Native American ancestor, but my paper trail doesn't go far enough back for me to verify the existence of this ancestor.

So, here are my FTDNA results:

European: 97%, breaking down as:

West and Central European: 41%
British Isles: 29%
Scandinavia: 13%
Iberia: 9%
Southeast Europe: 5%

Trace results, breaking down as:
Finland: < 2%
North and Central America: < 1%
West Middle East: < 1%

My 23andme results (note that both of my parents have tested with this company, so these results reflect the phasing process):

British and Irish: 63.3%
French and German: 22.8%
Scandinavian: 0.3%
Broadly NW European: 13.1%
Broadly European: 0.2%

Sub-Saharan Africa: 0.3%
Congolese: 0.2%
Nigerian: 0.1%

East Asian & Native American: 0.1%
Broadly Chinese & Southeast Asian: 0.1%

Before the phasing process, I had a small percentage of Southern European ancestry (coming from my dad, it seems) and some trace Balkan ancestry...the East Asian & Native American only came after the phasing process, and interestingly, it says it comes from my dad's side (which makes sense based on family lore), but did not actually show up in my dad's results! I was surprised to see the African result, which seems to stick around when I change the confidence level to 90%, and this is also the case for my parents. No other test has shown any African ancestry for me, however...

Finally, here are my MyHeritage results (based on raw data from 23andme), which have confused matters more for me:

Europe: 100%
North and West Europe:
Irish, Scottish and Welsh: 38.9%
England: 30.8%
Scandinavian: 12.8%

East Europe: 15.9%
Ashkenazi Jewish: 1.6%

Taken together, I'm not sure how to interpret these results! Two companies claim I have some non-European origins (with FTDNA saying Native American and 23andme saying Chinese & Southeast Asian along with African, even at 90% confidence level) while one doesn't, and one company claims that I have a significant percentage of Eastern European ancestry and a small percentage of Ashkenazi ancestry, while the other two don't... I'm not sure what to believe. It's intriguing that MyHeritage suggests the possibility of Eastern European and Ashkenazi ancestry since my grandfather claimed to have had an ancestor who was from Prussia and Jewish, but the FTDNA and 23andme tests don't really reflect that (with the exception of the trace "Middle East" result from FTDNA, which I understood to be noise).

I don't know if it's significant, but among my 23andme "DNA family", 13% have Eastern European origins, 9% have African, 4% have Native American and 2% have Ashkenazi Jewish.

For now, I don't have the paper trail to back up such DNA test results, so I'm skeptical of what I see. It's intriguing, all the same. I'd be interested to hear how you would interpret these results/if you have experienced similar issues with your results!

Thanks in advance for your replies!

MH and 23andme are in some cases different concerning my results. But when uploading the raw dna at gedmatch, there it shows similar results (only small differences in the percentences). Maybe this helps you too. And concerning the Ashkenazi 1,6%, you could check this at Gedmatch in the Eurogenes J-Test. MH analysed my dna with 12,3% AJ, 23and me with 8,2% and seriously at the J-Test it is 6,93% only. So I think MH ist not very reliable in this case.

Oh and you could bring the confidence level at 23andme down to 50% and see what will change. This really surprised me.
Thanks for your reply! Sorry, I'm only now realizing that someone replied :) I will give the Eurogenes J-Test a go and see what it says. What other tests are interesting for general raw DNA analysis? Thanks for your help.
Alright, well here are my J-Test results. I've used Gedmatch a bit in the past, but I admit I'm really not sure how to interpret the results...I feel like I need to read a book or something to get a grip on all this info! In any case, J-Test gives me 5.24% for Ashkenazi, which is quite a bit higher than 1.6% (from My Heritage). And all of a sudden all of my "African" ancestry disappears...which 23andme says is still there at 90% confidence level. I'm still not sure what to believe...I currently don't have much of a paper trail for my German/Prussian ancestry because the parentage of my third great-grandfather is I can't trace that line, which is the only line where someone with an Ashkenazi ethnic background could come from, any further back than 1841 in Pennsylvania. Any thoughts?


Hi heather_g,

From what I've read, most Europeans with no Ashkenazi ancestry generally get scores ranging from 0 to 5% on the Jtest. Personally it gives me 5%, and I have absolutely no AJ ancestry (at least not for the last 400 years, and not according to the paper trails).

See here: "The Ashkenazi cluster is very similar to the Middle Eastern cluster in that regard. So anyone who gets an Ashkenazi score of around 2-3% either has very distant Jewish ancestry or, more likely, none at all. However, those who show more than 25% membership in that cluster are almost certainly of fully Ashkenazi ancestry, and their genomes peppered with Ashkenazi-specific chromosomal segments."

They are results to be taken with a pinch of salt. It must be considered that calculators of the different companies or of the same Gedmatch don't work in the same way, but they use reference samples selected with different criteria and also numerically different. In practice, everyone offers a different frame in which they encase your genetic test data, trying to interpret them at best and - regarding the various "oracle" of Gedmatch - suggesting populations whose genetic "cocktails" are more similar to yours (referring to a single population or combinations of two or more populations).
The Ashkenazi share in the various calculators is always one of the most troubled issues, especially if you think that the Ashkenazi Jews are a people with a rather complex genetic make-up, which between the ancient period and the Middle Ages has assimilated lines originating from the Eastern Mediterranean, from Italian Peninsula and from the Central-Eastern Europe, also subjected to selective "bottleneck" phenomena. So you understand that such a combination, to be really detected, requires more advanced and precise tools that not all have (often their results overlap with those of Italians, especially with those of southern Italians and Sicilians).
I will try to look for the sources, but I had for example explained that My Heritage tends to overestimate the share of Ashkenazi and on this point 23andMe should be much more reliable. TardisBlue has already explained to you from what actual percentage value the quota denotes an effective Jewish ancestry (I place myself on 6.35% and I have no notion of any of my ancestors of that people). Nothing can be excluded in this world, but if these are the premises, in your shoes I wouldn't give too much credit to these Jewish ancestral percentages at the time.
Instead, check in the spreadsheet tables of the Gedmatch calculators if the most typical odds of Jewish populations (i.e. East_Med, Middle_Eastern) are in your personal case considerably higher than the average of the local population to which you belong or with which you identify yourself.
People score Ashkenazi because they're a hybrid of Middle Eastern, Southern European and slight Central/Eastern European ancestries.

And the J-test is garbage, Ashkenazim should always score 95-100 percent Ashkenazi like on 23andme
Thanks for the helpful tips. I never expected to get anything more than a trace Ashkenazi result when I took my first DNA test because my German/Prussian ancestors likely came to America by the mid to late 18th century, and if I have an ancestor somewhere down the line with 100% Ashkenazi ancestry, I think it would go at least generation or two further back than that. My maternal grandfather came from a broken family, so he didn't have a good grasp on his ancestry, but he told my mother that one of his ancestors from Prussia was of Ashkenazi descent. He never indicated who or which time period they were from (just that it was one of his ancestors who landed in Pennsylvania). Both my parents have taken DNA tests; my mother didn't get any Ashkenazi with 23andme and I haven't uploaded her raw data to My Heritage. As of today, 6% of my 23andme DNA relatives show possible Ashkenazi ancestry and when I sort them by parent, most of them are on my maternal side. 21% of my DNA relatives have Eastern European ancestry. I don't have access to my mom's profile, so I'm not sure what percentage of her DNA relatives show possible Ashkenazi/Eastern European ancestry. My paper trail doesn't lead to any Italian/Mediterranean ancestry; my dad's test showed a trace amount of Italian (around 1%) and some Broadly Southern European (I don't remember the exact percentage, but I don't think it was more than 2-3%), so I can't discount that entirely, but I think his SE Europe result is likely related to his French background more than anything else (in addition to his Guernsey French great-grandfather, he has a second great-grandfather who listed his mother's nationality as French in a U.S. census record). Once my mom's results came in, all of my Southern European ancestry disappeared. It's not the end of the world if I don't have any Ashkenazi ancestry; I just thought it would be interesting to definitively confirm or disprove my maternal grandfather's story, but with the mixed results, I feel like I can't confirm or disprove it with certainty!

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