A Solid Foundation
Since 1995, the CHF has provided bedrock support for canine health.
Many people don’t know this, but the American Kennel Club has always supported canine health research. Historically, contributions were made to Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania (the proximity and relationships between the universities and members of the fancy made them ideal candidates).
In fact, in the 1970s the AKC was instrumental in funding the research that lead to the parvovirus vaccine. Because of the AKC’s support, parvo is now relatively rare in the American canine population. In the early 1990s, the AKC Delegates suggested that the American Kennel Club develop an organization that could focus all its efforts on funding health research and education. As a result, in 1995, the Canine Health Foundation (CHF) was created.
Since then, the CHF has allocated nearly $24 million to canine health research. Landmark projects such as the Canine Genome Sequence and the first cancer therapy for dogs were initially supported by the foundation. The CHF has also sponsored many projects that subsequently developed genetic tests, which have become useful to breeders for testing their breeding stock and preventing illness in future generations.
The CHF funds four basic areas of research: 1) the causes and origins of disease, 2) earlier, more accurate diagnoses and prognoses; 3) better more effective treatments; and 4) educational programs so that breeders, veterinarians, and pet owners alike can have the best, most up-to-date information available to them to provide their companions and clients the best possible care.
Funding for these important research programs comes from the American Kennel Club, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company, parent and other dog clubs, and many individuals and organizations that love their dogs and want to support a healthier future. Projects have been funded in North and South America, Europe, and Australia, in such areas as cancer (lymphoma, osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma), genome mapping, neurology (epilepsy, degenerative myelopathy), ophthalmology (PRA, cataracts), orthopedic disorders (elbow and hip dysplasia), and renal and urological disorders (kidney stones, nephritis, Fanconi Syndrome). More than 80 AKC-recognized breeds representing every group have benefited from breed-specific research funded by the CHF. Additionally, clinical research funded by the foundation helps all dogs regardless of breed.
The CHF is a proponent of health testing for breeding stock. Together with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, the CHF has sponsored the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC). Originally conceptualized by the AKC Delegate Parent Club and Canine Health committees, CHIC is a centralized canine-health database that collects health-test results, makes results from multiple sources available in a publicly accessible database, and recognizes those dogs that have been tested in accordance with a protocol recommended by the specific breed’s parent club. CHIC is about encouraging testing and health awareness and recording the results.
The CHIC DNA Repository, also co-sponsored by the CHF and the OFA, collects and stores canine DNA samples along with corresponding genealogic and phenotypic information to facilitate future research. It is important for clubs to participate in the CHIC DNA Repository because all researchers have access to the samples and it allows for the prevention of “sample fatigue,” allowing one sample to participate in many different research projects.
For more information about the Canine Health Foundation and the programs it supports, visit CanineHealthFoundation.org. For additional information about CHIC, visit CanineHealthInfo.org.