What Dutch DNA Looks Like – 2018 edition

In 2016, I wrote a blog post comparing the ethnicity predictions between the three largest providers of DNA tests. Since then, some companies have changed their algorithms and I’ve tested with two more companies. Time for an update! I’ve kept the original article as-is so we can compare how the predictions change over time.

To recap, according to my tree, I’m mostly Dutch with a bit of German. DNA matches confirm that my tree is correct for the past several generations. I have some French Huguenot lines in the 1600s and some supposed noble lines in the 1200s and earlier from different parts of Europe. But in general, I’m about as Dutch as they come. How do the different testing companies show my ethnicity?


Ancestry's ethnicity estimate: 94% Western European

Ancestry’s ethnicity estimate

Ancestry’s ethnicity estimate hasn’t changed since 2016, and shows me as 94% Western European, and low confidence regions Great Britain (2%), Iberian Peninsula (2%), Ireland/Scotland/Wales (1%) and Scandinavia (<1%). I know that Ancestry is rolling out their new ethnicity prediction algorithm, but it hasn’t reached me yet so these predictions are the same as two years ago.

New since 2016 are “Genetic Communities.” Ancestry places me in the community “Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium & Luxembourg” which is spot on. When I click on that community, it shows that I most likely belong to the subgroup “Netherlands.” That’s pretty impressive!


23andMe ethnicity predictions

23andMe ethnicity predictions

23andMe predicts me to be French & German (39.3%) and even suggests that’s probably from the Netherlands. That’s an improvement from two years ago, when they did not go down to the country level. But it also predicts a significant British and Irish component at 28.9%, probably from the United Kingdom, which is not corroborated by my tree, and neither is the 6.8% Scandinavian or 1.4% Eastern European. The percentages are slightly different than those in 2016, but with the same two large predicted regions. Apart from the addition of the country-level predictions, the results are pretty similar to 2016, and similarly incorrect.

What’s new since 2016 is a timeline view, which shows how these predictions translate to my family tree. 23andMe predicts I “most likely had a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent who was 100% British & Irish. This person was likely born between 1890 and 1950.” Similarly, it suggests I had a Scandinavian ancestor 3-5 generations ago and an Eastern European ancestor 5-8 generations ago. My tree is mostly complete back that far, and there are no Brits, Scandinavians, or Eastern Europeans in these generations.

23andMe timeline prediction

23andMe timeline prediction


FamilyTreeDNA Ethnicity predictions

FamilyTreeDNA Ethnicity predictions

FamilyTreeDNA had the worst prediction in 2016, completely missing my Western European DNA, and it’s gotten worse. It now thinks I’m 89% British, 4% Southern European and 2% Middle Eastern. It did not pick up any of my North-West European DNA.

In contrast, FamilyTreeDNA thinks my mother is 61% West and Central European, and my paternal uncle is 59% West and Central European, so there’s something about my kit which makes them completely miss the mark.


MyHeritage ethnicity predictions

MyHeritage ethnicity predictions

I uploaded my raw FamilyTreeDNA file to MyHeritage and got a prediction there too. Even though the raw data is the same, each company has different reference populations and ethnicity prediction algorithms, which explains the differences in the results.

MyHeritage predicts me to be 64.2% North and West European, 32.8% Irish, Scottish, and Welsh, 1.8% Ashkenazi Jewish, and 1.2% Middle Eastern. Except for Ancestry, it has the highest prediction of North-Western European DNA, which according to my research should be 100%. I have no idea why MyHeritage determined I have Ashkenazi Jewish or Middle Eastern ancestry, but these amounts are so low that they’re probably just noise. The Irish/Scotish/Welsh they predict is a subdivision of the higher-level North and West Europe group. At that higher level they predict me to be 97.0% North-Western European, which matches my tree.


LivingDNA ethnicity predictions

LivingDNA ethnicity predictions

LivingDNA predicts me to be 94.4% British/Irish, 1.1% North-Western European, 2.5% North Turkish, and 1.9% North-Western Caucuses. The British is way too high, the North-western European is way too low, and I have no idea where the Turkish and Caucasus comes from.

Living DNA - Detailed predictionsLiving DNA - Detailed predictions

Living DNA – Detailed predictions

Living DNA even breaks down my supposed 94.4% British further into 21% South Central England, 17.3% South Yorkshire, 15.1% East Anglia, 13.6% South England, 13.1% Lincolnshire, 5.2% Central England, 3% Cornwall, 1.7% Northwest Scotland , 1.7% Aberdeenshire, 1.6% Devon and 1.2% Southeast England. It thinks my North and West European is Germanic (1.1%).

Clearly, LivingDNA suggests a level of detail for their ethnicity predictions they can’t deliver. If they get it this wrong on the parts-of-Europe level, there’s no use in splitting the groups up further into shires and regions.


Like in 2016, the ethnicity estimate that most closely resembles my tree was delivered by Ancestry. They not only got the largest group right, but even suggested that I might belong to the “Netherlands” genetic community.

MyHeritage and 23andMe recognized significant North-Western European contributions to my DNA, although they also attributed significant amounts to the British Isles.

The worst predictions for my ethnicity came from FamilyTreeDNA and LivingDNA, that both thought I was predominantly British. It is interesting that FamilyTreeDNA recognized Western European in my mother and paternal uncle’s DNA but not in mine, which shows that one person’s results should not be used as a benchmark.

The predictions haven’t changed that much since 2016: companies that got it right then still do, and companies that missed the mark then still miss it today. Of the two new companies I’ve tested with, MyHeritage’s prediction best matched my tree and picked up a large part of my North-West European DNA. LivingDNA’s incorrect prediction of me as a Brit was disappointing to me, since they marketed themselves as specialists in ethnicity predictions rather than finding matches.

I’m intrigued that FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, and LivingDNA all picked up some Middle Eastern/Turkish/Caucasian DNA, while this was not picked up by 23andMe and Ancestry. My tree does not have any indication for ancestors from that area, apart from a Byzantine princess that supposedly married one of my ancestors in the Middle Ages, more than twenty generations ago. Her contribution, if that line proves to be correct, would be negligable after so many generations. For now, I will dismiss these results as an anomaly of the prediction algorithms.

I can see how these types of predictions could lead people astray who don’t already have a good tree. An adoptee getting these results could easily think they’re half British or more. People often think that low percentages are noise, but my results show that even 94.4% can be wrong. To quote Judy Russell, it’s still not soup. At the continent level, however, all companies agreed that I’m mostly European, so my recommendation is to take anything below that with a bucket of salt.

Have you had your DNA tested? How did your ethnicity predictions match the known information from your tree? Please leave a comment to share your experiences.

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She has been doing genealogy for almost 25 years. Her expertise is helping people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Bart Lenselink says

    FTDNA: 78% West and Central Europe, 22% British Isles
    MyHeritage: 67.1% Scandinavian, 17.3% North- and Western European, 8.9% Balkan, 6.7% Italian.

    According my pedigree: Almost all from the provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel (The Netherlands) and a few moved in from adjacent Westphalia (Germany). So I would expect to see 100% Western European.
    I wonder what the Benelux project of Living DNA will produce.

    • Interesting! I’m especially intrigued at your high Scandinavian prediction from MyHeritage, which mine didn’t have though my father’s half of the family is from the same part of the Netherlands as yours.

      • Jeff Langerak says

        ,My DNA was 50 percent dutch German from the Netherlands as my family is last name is langerak, 15 Scandinavian and 15 Irish 15 English as my other side was from hull England with 3 percent Iberian mine seemed to match as viking spent large a.ount of time in hull England and so did the Spaniards.

  2. Sieger Witvoet says

    I did a DNA test with MyHeritage. It shows that I’m 48.1% English, 36.5% North and Western European and 15.4% Scandinavian. My ancestors mostly are from the Northeastern part of The Netherlands (Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe) and part German. Don’t know where the English and Scandinavian come from 🙂

    • There was a lot of back-and-forth between Scandinavia (Vikings), England (Angles, Saxons), Germany, and Friesland in the Middle Ages and before so it is not that surprising that it’s hard to tell a difference in the DNA of descendants from these regions.

    • anna switser says

      You kñow,l do have a lot of ancestors from England,Ireland,Scotland and Norway. But according to My Heritage l have only 11%scandinavian ,10%English,0%Irish/Scotland/Welsh.
      Very strange because l see lots of Dutch people with 50 or even 60% English,while most of their ancestors were Dutch.

  3. Matthew Newbold says


    I had my DNA tested by Ancestry a couple years ago. It showed 39% Western Europe, 35% Ireland/Scotland/Wales, 12% Scandinavia, 6% Europe South, 4% Europe East, 3% Great Britain and 1% European Jewish and Iberian Peninsula.
    My family tree shows is about 64% English, 21% Dutch, 6% German, and smaller percentages of Swiss German, Scotch Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Belgium, French, Italian and Ashkenazi Jewish.
    While the percentages from Ancestry don’t appear to jive with my family tree especially 3% Great Britain I wonder if this shows that most of my English Ancestry come from Celtic stock rather than the later Anglo-Saxon migrations. Who knows?
    One thing that gives me high confidence in Ancestry is that it listed my father and mother as my parents and my brother and sister as immediate family (who have all now had their DNA tested with Ancestry).
    I also had my mtDNA tested thru familytreedna with a result of H1b1. I still haven’t figured out how to use the results.
    Yvette, have you had your mtDNA tested?

  4. Gary Bouwkamp says

    I tested with FamilyTree DNA and the results somewhat matched my tree, showing me as western Europe (Netherlands, Germany, Austria, France) My documented tree is Netherlands and Germany with a little Irish. I uploaded the results to MyHeritage and they showed north west Europe, plus Scandinavian, and British)

    But, just as your results, my LivingDNA results were way off, showing 84% British and only 14% western European. I have no documented British, only one Irish Gr-Gr-Grandmother. Those inaccuracies cause me to question the Haplogroup info that was provided by LivingDNA.

    • Kaniel Outis says

      Switzerland comes under Western Europe, whereas Austria comes under Eastern Europe. Austrians have an 81.5% genetic similarity with Czechs. Western Austria is Western European, as the Y-haplogroup R1b is dominant, whereas in Eastern Austria R1a is more common.

      The reason British comes up for North West Europeans is because autosomally they are extremely close to British autosomal DNA. If one looks at European genetic clusters, one sees that they are divided into quadrants (North West (UK, Eire, Benelux, Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia, France), North East (Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Baltic States, Finland, Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine), South West (Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Malta), and South East (Balkan peninsula)). People who are Dutch can actually show up as British quite easily.

  5. Ad Vermue says

    Most of my family both father and mother from Zealand. Where came they from 1400?

    • As this article does, DNA predictions for ethnicity are pretty poor so the only way to find out whee your ancestors were from in the 1400s is be doing genealogical research. Most lines in the Netherlands can be traced back to the 1600s or late 1500s. Going back to the 1400s may be possible depending on their social status and the sources that are available for the area where they lived.

  6. Nice blog Yvette!. But as I understand one gets his or her atDNA from their parents, grand parents, great grand parents and so on. Random pieces of atDNA. But how far does the origins predictor looks back in time? After 8 generations, like 8 x 30 years = about 250 years no real atDNA comes from those ancestors I guess. So if you can proof that 8 generations of ancestors lived in the Netherlands, where does the British DNA come from? Or are pieces of atDNA inheretit from 10.000 ybp when there was no North Sea but Doggerbank connected the UK, Netherlands and Scandinavia? I cannot imagine atDNA to be past on all those years… Still there are a lot of Dutch people with British origins witch on paper are not real. Are Algoritmes like these and others to be found at Gedmatch (Europgenes etc) not really to be taken seriously?

  7. Doris Waggoner says


    My brother did his DNA through Ancestry early in 2017, I did mine about six months later, and sometime since then, our sister did hers, both through Ancestry. Interestingly, when he first did his, the ethnicity showed him as 38% Scandinavian, though the research I’ve done has shown our mother’s family is completely Norwegian as far back as the church records go, into the early 1600s and in a few cases the late 1500s. As you say, the Vikings got around, so some of the English in Yorkshire who emigrated to Massachusetts in 1638 may have had Scandinavian genes as well. We also have New Netherland ancestors, some there as early as the late 1620s. I found one man who was born in Norway, emigrated to Amsterdam, married there, then to New Netherland. So the “original” Scandinavian should be well over 38%. Indeed, over time, the Ancestry percentages from Scandinavia have crept up, and now show closer to the 50% that my tree shows. I know we have some German ancestors, and Scots-Irish, and a few whose ethnicity we haven’t accounted for yet. But Ancestry still shows the strange 1% from Southern Europe, and <1% from the Caucus, both of which seem highly unlikely. Another quote I like from Judy Russell is that at this point the ethnicity estimates are good for "cocktail party" conversation. Your comparison of what yours look like across various companies really makes that point well.


  8. As long as there is no equal worldwide reference method to rely on, I will never have my DNA tested. I read a lot about people having very different results from their DNA matches. So what is it worth?
    And, we weren’t there when a person was conceived, so it could also have been the foreign butler who made the ancestor pregnant.
    We can have our trees all worked out, we can have our DNA tested, but according to all documents (which are just pieces of paper), and the DNA techniques we have (which is no worldwide standard), we will never know for real where we come from.

    • DNA tests give you two types of results: ethnicity predictions (highly speculative, as you can see in this article) and DNA matches, people you share DNA with. Those are accurate and very useful for genealogical research. I’ve used those results to verify parent-child relationships and to correct situations where the biological and legal father did not turn out to be the same person.

      • Yes, those DNA tests are very useful when you need evidence in those situations. But your article is about ethnicity, and that’s what I was replying on.

        • Ancestry states predictions and algorithms and updates with technology. It also has the largest database. Folks who think none of it is real are like flat earthers. This is a new science and there’s always going to be the naysayers that put Copernicus in jail LOL

  9. Stephanie Fifield says

    Hi Yvette, I just got my Dad’s DNA back. I started with Ancestry and also uploaded to My Heritage.
    I have his family tree go back to the 1500’s. They basically spent the past 500 years in Noord Brabant (Dussen, Breda and Tilburg). Apparently my Dad is 80% British! That is more British than my mother who is actually British haha! They said it was from 12,000 years ago when the sea was low enough to walk between England and Western Europe.

    • Personally, I think it’s more plausible that Dutch and British DNA are similar because they descend from the same migrations (Saxons into England and into the Netherlands). Another great example that we be careful with these predictions below the continent level.

  10. Kaniel Outis says

    Switzerland comes under Western Europe, whereas Austria comes under Eastern Europe. Austrians have an 81.5% genetic similarity with Czechs. Western Austria is Western European, as the Y-haplogroup R1b is dominant, whereas in Eastern Austria R1a is more common.

    The reason British comes up for North West Europeans is because autosomally they are extremely close to British autosomal DNA. If one looks at European genetic clusters, one sees that they are divided into quadrants (North West (UK, Eire, Benelux, Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia, France), North East (Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Baltic States, Finland, Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine), South West (Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Malta), and South East (Balkan peninsula)). People who are Dutch can actually show up as British quite easily.

  11. anna switser says

    Very interesting. Last year l did My Heritage dna test. But let me tell you first bout my ancestors. My grandfather was azkenaze,but he also had grandparents from Scotland.My grandmother had ancestors from Scotland,Ireland,England and a. grandmother from Norway.
    My results are 11% skandinavian,10%english and 0% irish,scottish,welsh and 0%azkenaze.
    2%middle east and 77%north/west european.

  12. Hi Yvette: What do you think of DNA.LAND?

  13. Well this was an interesting read . I just received my results from MyHeritage . It was a gift and I’m not so sure I’d have chosen to do the test without that . However I’m a little surprised to find that there is no trace of anything North Western Europe in my results – just the expected Scottish/ Irish / Welsh ( Though more than the expected 50% ) and no trace of my
    Dutch tree which I’ve traced a good few hundred years back , and the furthest they go is to cross over the border into Germany or come north from France . I’m baffled why this does not seem to show up at all . Instead of this the result shows a high percentage of English – with which I have no previously documented connection .

  14. Ezra Jacob Kubasiak says

    Holland is a genetic hodgepodge of different refugee populations. 100,000 French Huguenots arrived in Holland alone, and also untold thousands of Sephardim and Sephardic conversos. Flemish mennonites also fled there, along with earlier Ashkenazim from countries that they had been expelled from; France, Germany, England. My paternal grandmother’s Dutch DNA leans more toward Belgium, France, and Switzerland, as Huguenots and Sephardim were all in or arrived to these countries. My maternal great grandmother’s Frisian DNA leans more toward England. Not only is Frisian DNA almost identical to eastern England (descendants of the Saxons), but also many Ashkenazi Jewish families settled in Friesland after the 1290 expulsion of England.

  15. Heidi Angela Karow says

    I first saw a DNA test result a year ago. Since then I’ve tested elsewhere or transferred a kit elsewhere. Also, Ancestry DNA has changed their method or their reference population for ethnicity estimates. What I get is nothing wildly “off”. But at the same time, I never get the same results from one place to the next. At most places I also get a bit of something atypical for a German person, either Mediterranean/south Italian/Ashkenazi Jewish/West Asian or varying combos of these (2-6%). So…. I look to DNA matches for clarity. For example, I have a LOT of distant cousin matches in Scandi countries (especially Sweden) and also closer cousin matches with people who are actually Ashkenazi Jewish (significantly so or 100%). I really don’t have no full Italian (o.k. ONE guy in Rome who is very, very distant) or West Asian matches anywhere. At MyHeritage about 25% of my European-based DNA matches are Dutch people. I’m part Frisian, so that fits. I mean the cousin matches.

  16. My experience:
    Paper Trail: 46% Dutch, 27% British, 17% Irish, 8% German
    FTDNA: 64% West and Central Europe, 17% Scandinavian, 15% British, 4% Iberia
    AncestryDNA: 75% British and Northwestern Europe, 13% Irish, 10% Germanic Europe, 2% Norway
    MyHeritage: 76.6% British, 11.2% Eastern Europe, 9.7% North and Western Europe, 2.5% Finnish

    I’d say that AncestryDNA has the most accurate estimate, though lumping together British with parts of continental Europe is mildly frustrating, though completely understandable due to the history of migrations in that area. I was also surprised that I didn’t get the Netherlands genetic community- probably due to having very few Dutch relatives in the US, limiting the number of Dutch matches I get.
    In terms of cousin matches I think MyHeritage is the best for Dutch people and other European ethnic groups since many of their tests are Europeans, whilst AncestryDNA and FTDNA have mostly American testers who can’t always trace their family trace back to Europe.

  17. Mijn MyHeritage Dna-test gaf mij 100% Europees, met als onderverdeling:
    -Noord en West Europa:
    49% Scandinavisch
    25,7% Iers/Schots/Welsch
    13% Engels…
    -Oost Europa:
    8,3% Balkan…
    – 3,3% Asjkenazisch Joods …
    Terwijl mijn y-haplogroep tot de onderverdeling R1a(1)behoort,
    En mijn bloedgroep is B..

    Vanuit mijn moederszijde kan ik het niet herleiden naar ” buiten Nederland”,
    Mijn vaderszijde is geheel onbekend,
    Mijn moeder was getrouwd toen ik werd geboren, maar heb een andere (onbekende) biologische vader dan haar huwelijkspartner waarvan ik de naam draag.
    Ik heb veel matches in Nederland en Amerika
    Jammer genoeg is mijn dichtsbijzijnde Nederlandse match slechts 102cM..
    Dus MyHeritage heeft mij helaas niet kunnen helpen met het vinden van niet al te verre familie die mij zou kunnen leiden naar mjjn vader..

  18. “Some people tried to convince me that my paper trail must be incorrect. However, I do not think that is the case” (YH)
    Great piece Yvette. Confirming my own dialogue with other seekers-of-ancestry whose DNA results are inconsistent and often out of phase with their paper trail. In my case, the paper trail leads to Norway which was an unknown (to me) source of Dutch citizens. The Schouten & Jansen shipbuilders joining in more than good Norwegian Wood? Likewise the salt trade with Iberia led to my sailor ancestors spreading their genes, and the Huguenot emigration (French to Amsterdam….French to Neuchatel) revealing another source of my ancestry as yet unrevealed in DNA work. Thanks from all of us for your great website. Alan Scouten

  19. Dutch, German, British, and French are basically all the same. A good friend of mine who is a scientist and anthropologist said how there are basically no major defining differences either physically or genetically between people who are from these modern day European countries. Another friend of mine who is a geneticist said the same thing. They both told me how the DNA tests being sold by testing companies with the adverts and estimates are not accurate, and that there are not major defining differences between completely European people from Scandinavian countries and the UK/Ireland. This does not include MT/YDNA haplogroups; but they have been spread worldwide via reproduction/migration through the centuries.

    Someone from the Netherlands or other Western or Northwestern countries will often come up as being highly British, French, or Scandinavian with the DNA tests. I am mainly Central, Western, and Southern European, as well as Scandinavian; but I had some estimates for the Baltic states come up when I did a DNA test as I have some Baltic German ancestors from Tallinn back when it was called Reval on my mother’s side, which shows how long ago it was. The very strange part is that the Baltic German estimate comes up higher than that of my estimates for Italy, Spain, and Greece despite how the Southern European ancestors and relatives are a lot more closely-extremely directly related, than the centuries old Baltic German ancestors. I have Dutch ancestors and relatives on both sides of my family, and Belgian ancestors as well, but my scientist friends said how there are no differences between someone from the Netherlands and someone from Belgium, France, or Germany.

    The Netherlands are inbetween both West and Central Europe so the one DNA test that claimed this about you is more accurate.

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