"Why Do Health Testing?"
I put this page together because I think more people should be educated about health testing their dogs. I hear of too many breeders that refuse to health test their breeding stock before they breed them and it's so wrong. Ethical breeders are trying to improve their lines by health testing for important health issues in their dogs, such as, Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE), bad hips/elbows, patellas, hemivertebrae and eyes.
You need to research the prevalence of the problem in the breed and what chance good performance rules out say elbow dysplasia... sometimes it does but unfortunately there is at least one problem in my breed where a carrier may have an ADVANTAGE in the field even if the affected from a carrier to carrier mating is disabled. One of the downsides of breeding is having a beautiful dog or a good worker who has some fault which shouldn't be perpetuated through breeding. That's the difference between a reputable, responsible breeder who takes the tough decision not to breed from that dog and the irresponsible breeder who goes ahead anyway. There IS a standard. No question about it. Breeders breed to what they want... no one denies that. But REAL breeders should strive to produce a dog that both has function AND form. Because, again, if it doesn't look like or work like a Rottweiler, or Pug then what the hell is it?
Doing hip/elbow screenings is proper and 'good', especially breeding dogs that are known to have hip/elbow problems. There is no point in doing hip/elbow screenings in an Italian Greyhound (0% of IG's screened in OFA have CHD), but in a breed with a higher prevalence of CHD, I would never buy a dog that didn't have at least 3 generations tested and passed OFA/OVC are acceptable.
The main practical problem with medical screening is that it creates a poor sub-standard for breeding selection. In essence, a mediocre dog will look better on paper because she passes 5 screening tests whereas an outstanding dog scores low on 2 tests out of 5 and looks less desirable. If a dog consisted of the sum of it's medical screens, then it they would be useful for breeding selections. However, in a practical sense they probably end up doing more harm than good by putting excessive emphasis on criteria that should be quite a bit lower priority in selection. Tests have become fasionable because they provide an objective "scientific" evaluation of a dog that is easy to "read." Whereas the process of selecting dogs with a better means of evaluation takes a lot of hard work.
OFA is more than just hip screenings. They also screen for luxating patellas, elbow dysplasia, cardiac problems, and even thyroid disease. http://offa.org/index.html
THE CANINE HEALTH INFORMATION CENTER
The Canine Health Information Center, also known as CHIC, is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the AKC/Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). See OFA announces new veterinary reporting process (2007). For those that are interested in specific DNA information on a dog, you may search the OFA DNA Database.
CHIC operates an informed consent database. All information regarding test results remains confidential unless the owner specifically authorizes release of the information into the public domain. Owners are encouraged to release all test results realizing it is in the ultimate health interests of the breed and the information greatly increases the depth and breadth of any resulting pedigree analysis. For those not quite ready to accept open sharing of information, there is still value in submitting their results. All test information entered into the database is available in aggregate for research and statistical reporting purposes, but does not disclose identification of individual dogs. This results in improved information on the prevalence of the disease, as well as information regarding progress in reducing the incidence of the disease.
CHIC Numbers and CHIC Reports
A CHIC number is issued when test results are entered into the database satisfying each breed specific requirement, and when the owner of the dog has opted to release the results into the public domain. The CHIC number by itself does not imply normal test results, only that all the required breed specific tests were performed and the results made publicly available.
A CHIC report is issued at the same time as the CHIC number. The CHIC report is a consolidated listing of the tests performed, the age of the dog when the tests were performed, and the corresponding test results. As new results are recorded, updated CHIC reports reflecting the additional information will be generated. For example, if a breed requires annual CERF examinations, an updated CHIC report will be generated every time updated CERF results are entered. Another potential example is as new DNA tests are developed and added to the breed specific requirements, updated CHIC reports will be generated as the test results are entered.
Once included in the CHIC program, the breed specific requirements are dynamic. As health priorities within a breed change, or as new screening tests become available, the breed specific requirements can be modified to reflect the current environment. If the breed specific requirements are modified, existing CHIC numbers are not revoked. Again, the CHIC number is issued to a dog that completed all required tests at a given point in time.
CHIC will provide the parent club quarterly reports consisting of both aggregate numbers and specific dogs who have been issued CHIC numbers.
CHIC Fee Structure
Test results from the OFA and CERF databases are shared automatically with the CHIC program. There is no fee to enter test results from either the OFA or CERF, and there is no requirement to fill out any additional forms.
To enter results into CHIC from another source such as PennHIP, GDC, OVC, or parent club maintained databases, there is a one time per dog fee of $25.00. To enter results from any of these organizations, the CHIC Application To Enter Test Results must be completed. The completed form, test result documentation, and fee should be sent to the OFA. Any additional results after the one time fee is paid are recorded at no charge. Additionally, there is no charge when entering results on an affected animal from a non-CERF/OFA source.
The CHIC website is located at www.caninehealthinfo.org. The website contains basic information on CHIC such as its mission and goals, and maintains a listing of the participating breeds and approved breed specific test protocols. Forms such as the 'Parent Club Application' and 'Application To Enter Test Results' are available as downloads. The CHIC website also provides a search engine to locate dogs who have been issued CHIC numbers, their test dates, and the results of their tests.
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
UC Davis Veterinary Medicine
Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE) Testing