AKC eNewsletter

Summer 2005

Make Informed Breeding Choices with CHIC

By Theresa Shea, editor

The Canine Health Information Center, also known as CHIC, is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the AKC Canine Health Foundation (AKCCHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). CHIC provides a source of health information for owners, breeders and scientists, that assists in breeding healthy dogs. The CHIC database, administered by OFA, collects health information on individual animals from multiple sources. In order for data to be included in CHIC, test results must be based on scientifically valid diagnostic criteria.

For breeders, CHIC provides a reliable information source regarding dogs you may want to use in your breeding programs. Through CHIC, breeders can begin to analyze the pedigrees of a proposed breeding for health strengths and weaknesses as well the traditional analysis of 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. Further, as more DNA tests become available and the results are entered into CHIC, the CHIC database will be able to establish whether progeny will be clear, carriers, or affected.

For parent (or national breed) clubs considering establishment of health databases on their own, CHIC provides the answer with no up-front investment required by the club. The CHIC infrastructure is supplied and maintained by the OFA. The data is maintained in a secure environment by trained staff. The services are not subject to the time, technology, and resource constraints that parent clubs might face on their own. This frees parent clubs to focus on their core strengths of identifying health concerns, educating their membership, and encouraging participation in the CHIC program.

For researchers, CHIC provides confidential and accurate aggregate information on multiple generations of dogs. CHIC information will also be useful for epidemiological studies enhancing our knowledge of health issues affecting all breeds of dogs. For everyone interested in canine health issues, CHIC is a tool to monitor disease prevalence and measure progress.

Core to the CHIC philosophy is the realization that each breed has different health concerns. Not all diseases have known modes of inheritance. Nor do all diseases have screening tests. Some screening tests are based on phenotypic evaluation, others on genetic testing. With all these variables, a key element of CHIC is to customize or tailor the CHIC requirements to the needs of each breed. These unique requirements are established through input from the parent club prior to the breed’s entry into the CHIC program.

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. The goal is to test your breeding stock, not necessarily to pass the test. 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 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.

Visit caninehealthinfo.org to find out more about how you can participate in CHIC and how it can help you breed better dogs.

  Ronald N. Rella, director, Breeder Services
Theresa Shea, editor | Email: AKCbreeder@akc.org | Joanne Beacon, designer
Customer Service | Phone: 919-233-9767 | Email: info@akc.org

© The American Kennel Club 2005