HEALTH TESTING AND CHIC NUMBERS- JUST THE FACTS
Basic information about health testing and CHIC numbers:
What is CHIC?
CHIC stands for Canine Health Information Center. It is a centralized canine health database that collects health information on individual animals from multiple sources- namely OFA and CERF.
Parent clubs decide on what testing should be required for their breed to receive a CHIC number.
What health testing is recommended for Chihuahuas?
OFA Cardiac, OFA Patella and CERF eye testing are recommended for Chihuahuas1.
What is the difference between OFA/ CERF and CHIC?
OFA is a database which specializes in orthopedic issues and other genetic diseases. CERF specializes in eye disorders only.
CHIC is a database that collects information from both OFA and CERF into one place and organizes that information based on breed. Health testing results are also conveniently displayed for all relatives of dogs in the database that have been health tested.
Why should I health test my Chihuahua?
Any Chihuahua breeder would benefit from knowing about the health of the dogs in their breeding program. If dogs are not health tested they could be unknowingly contributing genetic health issues into the gene pool.
How do I get a CHIC number on my Chihuahua?
Your Chihuahua must have permanent identification in the form of microchip or tattoo to be eligible. Patella, cardiac and CERF eye testing must be performed and patella/ cardiac results registered with OFA and eye testing results registered with CERF. There is no need to apply for a CHIC number; it is generated automatically when the above health testing results are submitted to OFA and CERF and a certificate will be mailed to you. There is no fee for a CHIC number.
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT HEALTH TESTING AND CHIC NUMBERS
"My dog has a CHIC number so that means he is healthy and free of all heart, patella and eye defects"
FALSE. A CHIC number does not mean that patella, heart and/or eye test results were normal. It means that the examinations were performed and the results were registered and available to the public. Any interested parties can go to the CHIC database and see his health testing results- good or bad.
"People only send in their good results, so the CHIC database cannot possibly help breeders"
FALSE. As of January 2012 there were 233 Chihuahuas with CHIC numbers. Of those 233 Chihuahuas, 40 of them had abnormal test results listed, with 26 different kennel names represented 2. That means that 17% of the CHIC Chihuahuas in the database have abnormal test results. Abnormalities include multiple eye disorders as well as varying degrees of patella luxation and heart murmur.
"It is useless to send in results as long as I know that my dogs are healthy."
FALSE: If all Chihuahua breeders health tested their dogs and registered the results-both normal and abnormal, it could have a tremendous positive impact on the overall health of the breed.
If enough breeders participated in the CHIC program, eventually breeders could research pedigrees of proposed breedings for health strengths & weaknesses based on health testing results. We are already making tremendous progress in this area and with continued effort by dedicated breeders we can really make a big difference in the health of the breed.
Registering results can also give researchers information on multiple generations of dogs and help the Chihuahua Club of America identify health concerns & educate the membership.
"I don't want to microchip my dogs so they can't get CHIC numbers."
FALSE. Tattoos are also an acceptable form of identification for a dog to receive a CHIC number3.
"Chihuahuas don't have eye problems"
FALSE. There are multiple Chihuahuas in the CHIC database with cataracts, vitreous degeneration-syseresis, Distichiasis and persistent pupillary membranes. Eye testing is much more common in Finland with many more Chihuahuas documented than we have in the US. The Finnish database also lists Chihuahuas with Retinal dystrophy, trichiasis and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) among other disorders 4,5.
"No one has proven that Chihuahuas have PRA"
FALSE. There are actually six documented cases in Finland listed in their public health database along with registration numbers, registered names, pedigrees and diagnosis of PRA made by certified veterinary ophthalmologists5. The pedigrees of these dogs contain world-famous bloodlines that have made their way to the US.
"Certifying patellas is too subjective to bother with"
FALSE: Although it is technically possible to have slight variation in grading by different vets, it is still very important to know whether or not a dog's patellas luxate. Even though one vet may consider it a grade 1 and another vet may call it a grade 2, the examination has still provided extremely valuable information- that the patella luxates. Bringing the clear and simple grading information provided by OFA will help to ensure that a dog's patellas are accurately graded, even by a non-specialist practioner vet 6.
Health Committee, Chihuahua Club of America
Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 06:42