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Health Testing - OFA and CHIC
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) provides evaluations and certification for a number of animal diseases including hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cardiac, thyroid, deafness, patellar luxation, DNA, and others. It is important that we breed out of Bulldogs as many of the degenerative conditions as possible. The following information, taken from the OFA and CHIC websites can help us understand how testing is conducted and what the results tell us. Hip dysplasia appears to be perpetuated by breeder imposed breeding practices. Bulldog breeders must become aware of the physical health of the dogs they are breeding. Improvement of the hip status can be accomplished without jeopardizing other desireable traits, such as gait. OFA certifications and just plain common sense is a good start. Prospective BUYERS should check pedigrees and/or verify health issues with the breeder. If suitable documentation is not available, or they don't know what you are talking about, assume the worst until proven otherwise.
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). Its mission is to provide a source of health information for owners, breeders, and scientists that will assist in breeding healthy dogs. Once in place and accepted with the dog breeding community, the CHIC program offers benefits to breeders, buyers, parent clubs, and researchers.
For BREEDERS, the CHIC program offers a reliable source of information regarding dogs they may use in their breeding programs. In the future, breeders can begin to analyze the pedigrees of a proposed breeding for health strengths and weaknesses as well as the traditional conformation, type, and performance strengths and weaknesses.
For BUYERS, the CHIC program provides accurate information about the results of a breeder's health testing. For diseases that are limited to phenotypic evaluations, there are no guarantees. However, the probability that an animal will develop an inherited disease is reduced when its ancestry has been tested normal.
Core to the CHIC philosophy is the realization that each breed has different health concerns. Some tests are based on phenotypic evaluation, others on genetic testing. With all these vareiables, a key element of CHIC is to customize the CHIC requirements to the needs of each breed. Breed specific requirements typically consist of the inherited diseases that are of the greatest concern and for which some screening test is available.
The following breed specific requirements illustrates how the CHIC has tailored requiremtns to the health issues facing each breed:
Congentital Cardia Disease
A CHIC number is issued when test results are entered into the database satisfying each breed specific requirement, and the owner has opted to release the results to the public. The CHIC number itslef does not imply normal test results, only that they were reported and available to the public. A CHIC report is issued at the same time as the CHIC number.
The CHIC website contains basic information on CHIC and also provides a search engine to locate dogs that have been issued CHIC numbers, their test dates, and the results of their tests.