What is the CHIC Certification Program?
The OFA created the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) by partnering with participating parent clubs to research and maintain information on the health issues prevalent in specific breeds. We’ve established a recommended protocol for breed-specific health screenings. Dogs tested in accordance with that protocol are recognized with a CHIC number and certification.
At OFA, we recognize that the more information stored and accessible in these databases, the better it will be for every breed. And so we encourage all breeders to attain CHIC Certification if their breed participates in the CHIC program.
A dog achieves CHIC Certification if it has been screened for every disease recommended by the parent club for that breed and those results are publicly available in the database. See the recommended screenings by breed.
CHIC Program Goals
- To work with parent clubs in the identification of health issues for which a central information system should be established.
- To establish and maintain a central health information system in a manner that will support research into canine disease and provide health information to owners and breeders.
- To establish scientifically valid diagnostic criteria for the acceptance of information into the database.
- To base the availability of information on individually identified dogs at the consent of the owner.
CHIC Program Benefits
The CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) Program offers benefits to breeders, buyers, parent clubs, and researchers.
For breeders, CHIC provides a reliable source of information regarding dogs they may use in their breeding programs. Breeders can analyze the pedigrees of a proposed breeding for health strengths and weaknesses as well as 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 tested normal. Further, as more DNA tests become available and the results are entered, the OFA database will be able to establish whether progeny will be clear, carriers, or affected.
For parent clubs considering establishment of health databases on their own, the CHIC Program provides the answer with no upfront 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 through the OFA.
For researchers, the OFA database, and specifically those dogs that have achieved CHIC Certification, provide confidential and accurate aggregate information on multiple generations of dogs. This 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, the OFA database, and specifically those dogs that have achieved CHIC Certification, are tools to monitor disease prevalence and measure progress.
CHIC Program Policies
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 the CHIC Program is to customize or tailor the 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.
Breed-specific requirements typically consist of the inherited diseases that are of the greatest concern and for which some screening tests are available. Each parent club also drives specific screening protocols. As an example, one parent club may allow cardiac exams to be performed by a general practitioner. Another parent club may require the exam to be performed by a board certified cardiologist. A club may also use the CHIC Program to maintain information on other health issues for anecdotal purposes. Later, as screening tests become available, the disease may be added to the breed-specific requirements.
Regardless of breed, each dog must be permanently identified in order to have test results included in CHIC. Permanent identification may be in the form of microchip or tattoo.
The OFA-CHIC database operates on informed consent. 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. In order to qualify for a CHIC number (and achieve CHIC Certification), all results must be released into the public domain.
CHIC Numbers and Reports
A CHIC number is issued when test results are entered into the database satisfying each breed specific requirement, and when the owner of the dog has opted to release the results into the public domain. The CHIC number itself does not imply normal test results, only that all the required breed specific tests were performed and the results made publicly available.
A CHIC report is issued at the same time as the CHIC number. The CHIC report is a consolidated listing of the tests performed, the age of the dog when the tests were performed, and the corresponding test results. As new results are recorded, online CHIC information is updated.
Once included in the CHIC program, the breed-specific requirements are dynamic. As health priorities within a breed change, or as new screening tests become available, the breed-specific requirements can be modified to reflect the current environment. If the breed-specific requirements are modified, existing CHIC numbers are not revoked. Again, the CHIC number is issued to a dog that completed all required tests at a given point in time.
CHIC will provide the parent club quarterly reports consisting of both aggregate numbers and specific dogs that have been issued CHIC numbers.
CHIC Fee Structure
Test results from the OFA databases are shared automatically with the CHIC program. There is no additional fee nor additional forms to fill out for CHIC purposes once the results are registered with the OFA.
All regular OFA fees apply in order to the register the results with the OFA before they are shared with the CHIC program.
Breed Club Participation
Any parent club interested in participating in the CHIC program should contact the OFA to discuss the program, entry requirements, or to answer any questions.
Each breed should have a health committee and survey results which determine the major health concerns within the breed. The club should select one person from the health committee to be the CHIC liaison, and to work with the club’s membership in determining what health tests should be considered for participation in the CHIC program. Questions to be considered are: what tests are currently available and being used, and at what age are the tests appropriate and reliable. The OFA will assist parent clubs during this phase of requirement and protocol definition.