Chairman's Report

November 2008

-- Canine Health Always A Top Priority --

For more than a century the American Kennel Club®, its parent clubs, and responsible breeders have been dedicated to canine health. The very existence and continuation of breeds in this country depends on a foundation of healthy, sound and good tempered breeding stock. AKC takes very seriously its responsibility to provide proven advice, up-to-date resources, and significant funding to promote genetic research for the advancement of good health in the purebred dog.

Today’s purebred enthusiasts do not take breeding lightly -- they aim to preserve and improve the breeds they dedicate their lives to.  A balanced breeding program includes a host of criteria including genetic testing, pedigree research, conformation and temperament analysis of sire and dam.

AKC’s three-pronged commitment to helping breeders reach the highest standards includes creating the AKC Canine Health Foundation, supporting AKC Parent Clubs and dedicating AKC staff and resources to breeder education through its Registry and Breeders’ Department. 

About the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF)

  • The AKC founded the AKC Canine Health Foundation in 1995. Since then AKC has been the largest contributor to date donating more than $18.5 million towards canine health research. 
  • AKC CHF’s mission is, “to develop significant resources for basic and applied health programs with emphasis on canine genetics to improve the quality of life for dogs and their owners.” 
  • Since the creation of the Foundation in 1995, $22 million has been given to more than 500 research projects at 74 vet schools and research institutes worldwide to improve the health of all dogs. 
  • While this research targets the occurrence of a disease in specific breeds, it also increases the knowledge of the disease within all dogs and allows breeders to avoid breeding dogs who are carriers. To date, more than a dozen genetic tests have been developed for such widespread diseases as PRA, Hypothyroidism, and Fanconi Syndrome.
  • The AKC CHF donated $2.2 million to projects that mapped the canine genome. These projects contributed to the complete genome sequence performed by the National Institutes of Health.
  • Parent club health liaisons and AKC CHF Founder Clubs (those that donate more than $10,000) are invited to attend the annual National Parent Club Canine Health conference with worldwide leaders in genetic research to advance all aspects of canine health and purebred dog breeding. 
  • AKC CHF, in conjunction with the AKC Breeders’ Department, holds multiple “Breeders Symposia” as well as Parent Club National Specialty Health Presentations around the country each year. These educational programs offer breeders a wide variety of opportunities to stay up to date on canine genetics, reproduction, and nutrition.

About AKC Parent Clubs

  • The AKC is comprised of nearly 5,000 member and licensed clubs, including a designated Parent Club overseeing each respective breed in the U.S.  AKC Parent Clubs for the 158 AKC recognized breeds:
    • write breed standards. The breed standards direct breeders in targeting ideal conformation, temperament and health. The AKC publishes all standards in The Complete Dog Book and posts them on akc.org. 
    • promote healthy breeding, genetic testing and genetic diversity. When problems arise, they address them through funding genetic research, encouraging the testing of breeding stock, and establishing and using health registries for their pre-breeding research. Parent Club Health Committees conduct health surveys and facilitate Donor Advised Funds at the AKC CHF for research related to specific breed genetic diseases. 
    • support the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) database. This centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the AKC Canine Health Foundation and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals develops a list of health screenings with parent club approval that the responsible breeder should incorporate into their breeding program and is a DNA repository for future research.  
    • may request that the AKC open the studbook for their breed to address health  issues to include new animals in the gene pool. This was recently done for the Basenji.

About the AKC Registry and Breeders’ Department
The AKC supports the work of the health registries and parent clubs in their efforts to make health-testing information accessible by listing test results from OFA and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) in our pedigrees. AKC also lists DNA profiles on pedigrees as a means of parent verification. 

Other AKC resources for breeder education include the Breeders Department which publishes the AKC Breeder newsletter and hosts, in conjunction with the AKC CHF, numerous annual Breeders’ Symposia. The “Genome Barks” series at www.genomebarks.com features new podcasts every two weeks based on presentations from canine health experts, researchers, and leaders given at select Breeders Symposium.

Many of these breeders’ resources are available online at www.akc.org/breeders and www.akcchf.org. As we look to the future of purebred dogs we continue to work with and advocate for responsible breeders to produce healthy puppies for the enjoyment of generations to come.  We share the utmost dedication and commitment to canine health with these breeders, parent clubs, and with all those who love and appreciate the purebred dog.  

Sincerely,


Ron Menaker
Chairman