Frequently Asked Questions

You will find answers to the most commonly asked questions about the AKC Canine Health Foundation here.  If you have any additional questions or would like more information about any of these topics please contact us.

What does the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) do?

How is CHF associated with the American Kennel Club (AKC)?

Why is canine health research so important?

Does the research you fund harm dogs?

Does canine health research help all dogs or just some breeds?

Do you help mixed breed dogs?

How do I find out more about the research CHF is funding for my breed?

How do I find out more about the research CHF is funding for a particular disease?

My dog is affected with a disease. How do I go about getting help for my dog?

Why haven't you done anything for MY breed?

Does CHF have researchers on staff?

How do you decide what research to fund?

Does CHF fund research that is done outside the United States?

Have there been any major breakthroughs as a result of CHF funding?

How are the results of this research used and/or disseminated?

How much has CHF raised for research programs?

Where does the funding come from?

How can I help advance canine health?

How can I honor or memorialize a dog?

Why are unrestricted funds important to the AKC Canine Health Foundation?

Q: What does the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) do?

A: CHF raises money to support canine health research. We make grants to investigators that are looking for:

  • The cause(s) of disease
  • Earlier, more accurate diagnosis
  • Accurate, positive prognosis
  • Effective, efficient treatment

CHF also supports educational programs that bring scientists together to discuss their work and develop new collaborations to further advance canine health.

Q: How is CHF associated with the American Kennel Club (AKC)?

A: The AKC created CHF in 1995 as a 501(c)3 charitable organization with the mission of raising funds to support canine health research. CHF is currently located in the Raleigh, North Carolina offices of the AKC, and they provide us with office space and other services. This in-kind donation allows CHF to keep operating expenses low and apply a greater percentage of donations directly to canine health research. In addition, AKC generously contributes financial support for health research. However, CHF is a separate organization with our own Board of Directors, staff and accounting system. 

Q: Why is canine health research so important?

A: The American Pet Products Association estimates that more than $55.7 billion was spent on our pets in 2013. That translates into the fact that people's dogs have become part of the family, and we want them to live for a long time. CHF supports health research that will benefit dogs so that they can live longer, healthier lives. The genetic research helps breeders produce healthier puppies, and the clinical research helps all dogs that visit the veterinarian. 

 Q: Does CHF-funded research harm dogs?

A: Our funded investigators are required to sign an "Animal Treatment & Care" agreement that stipulates the following:

  • General Animal Care: Every animal should have compassionate care, comfort, protection from predators and adverse environments, protection from and treatment for disease, and freedom from abuse and unnecessary pain.
  • Research: Research using animals is fundamental to improving animal health and may provide models for improving human health.
  • Authorized Procedures: Any CHF funded projects must be performed in a manner that protects the animals in the project from unnecessary pain and suffering. All protocols and procedures must be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) before implementation and be performed in accordance with the direction of the Institution's Attending Veterinarian. A copy of the approved Institutional Animal Care and Use Protocol must be provided to CHF.
  • Euthanasia: Euthanasia is strictly prohibited as part of an experimental design for any animal participating in a CHF funded project. If there are circumstances of seriously ill health of the animal or the animal presents a threat to the safety of others, euthanasia may be appropriate. The funded Institution's Attending Veterinarian must make this determination on behalf of the animal.
  •  Other: All studies shall be conducted in compliance with applicable Federal, state and local regulations.

Q: Does canine health research help all dogs or just some breeds?

A: Research funded by CHF ultimately helps all dogs, whether they are purebred or mixed breed dogs. About half of the research we support is clinical in nature, which means that it deals with earlier, more accurate diagnosis of disease and/or more efficient treatments of disease. This research ultimately helps each dog that visits the veterinarian.

Q: Do you help mixed breed dogs?

A: Much of the clinical research funded by CHF will be helpful in providing ways for mixed breeds to live longer, healthier lives. Mixed breeds are often welcome to participate in clinical trials for new treatments and therapies.

Q: How do I find out more about the research CHF is funding for my breed?

A: Visit our searchable grants database to see research for your breed.

Q: How do I find out more about the research CHF is funding for a particular disease?

A: Visit our searchable grants database to see research for a specific disease.

Q: My dog is affected with a disease. How do I go about getting help for my dog?

A: Your first step should be to contact your local veterinarian. However, we do provide resources to find a veterinary specialist and basic information on some canine diseases. 

Q: Why haven't you done anything for MY breed?

A: Each year, CHF asks Parent Clubs to determine their top five health concerns. This list is compiled and publicized to investigators through the Request for Pre-proposal and on the website. Not all Parent Clubs respond to this request, and there aren't always research projects going on to benefit every breed. CHF does make a concerted effort, however, to assist breed clubs in finding research that will be of benefit. And don't forget that just because a research project isn't "breed-specific" doesn't mean it won't help your breed! Often, genetic research done in one breed will benefit another breed. Since many breeds are related and share conserved parts of the genome, genetic findings in one breed provide scientists with a place to start looking in another. Additionally, clinical research (diagnosis, prognosis and treatment) helps everyone!

Q: Does CHF have researchers on staff?

A: CHF is a grant-making organization. We give money to research institutions to perform investigations that will benefit canine health. We do not conduct the research ourselves.

CHF has a Chief Scientific Officer who oversees the entire grants management program. The Chief Scientific Officer works closely with our Scientific Review Committee, which is made up primarily of veterinarians, human medical doctors and individuals with a background in science (often with PhDs). These individuals review Acorn applications (small, pilot studies) for funding. Oak applications (large, longer term projects) are sent out for review by other experts in the field addressed by the proposal.

Q: How do you decide what research to fund?

A: CHF's grant process is distinctive in that it gathers information about canine health priorities from AKC Parent Clubs. We listen to the concerns of the dog owners/breeders and encourage our investigators to submit applications to the Foundation based on this closely monitored feedback. The unique alliance with the Parent Clubs also allows us to work together to fund the research and provide samples for faster, more efficient research.

We impact the health of your dogs through two types of research grants, Oaks and Acorns. Oaks are traditional grants that are approved on an annual cycle. Major goals of our Oaks, which generally last more than a year and are $12,000 or more, are to target our "three pronged" approach: prevention, treatment and cure.

Acorns, or seed research projects, are designed to allow researchers to complete small, relatively short timeframe projects and generate preliminary data for possible future Oakproposals. Generally lasting for less than a year and only funded up to $12,000, the Foundation's Scientific Review Committee will review and approve these projects throughout the year. This is a program unique to CHF and has received positive feedback from investigators who are able to begin research without the delays usually associated with traditional grant cycles.

Our grants review process is rigorous and stringent. Applications are reviewed by experts in the application's field of study and funding decisions are approved by the Foundation's Board of Directors. We go to great lengths to guarantee that funded research is of the highest quality and thereby ensure that the results are significant and add to the body of research which will benefit canines and ultimately humans.

 Q: Does CHF fund research done outside the United States?

A: Yes, CHF does fund research institutions outside of the United States, however the potential discoveries of the research must be beneficial to dogs globally.  It must be a health condition that impacts dogs within the United States.

Q: Is it true that some canine health research also advances human health?

A: The genetic makeup of dogs and humans is about 85% the same; the genes that make up the eye of the dog are the same genes that make up the human eye. There are about 400 diseases that affect both species in the same way. Because of this, research in canine health will help humans, and research in human health will help dogs. Scientists have proven that the dog makes a good model for human health research. Some of that reasoning is based on a shared environment (we breathe the same air, drink the same water, walk across the same treated lawns), the shorter lifespan of dogs (you can study several generations of dogs in the time it would take to study one human generation) and the ability to track lineage through pedigrees of purebred dogs (each breed is considered to be an extended "family" or genetic isolate). 

Q: Have there been any major breakthroughs as a result of CHF funding?

A: Yes! CHF-funded researchers have made significant discoveries since 1995. In 2004, the first draft of the canine genome was fully sequenced by the Broad Institute (this information was published in Science in December of 2005). However, characterization of the genome started years earlier and continues on today. CHF has supported research projects that contributed to mapping the full genome. Identification of microsatellites and SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) across the genome led to the tools which enabled researchers to scan the entire genome for mutations. CHF funded research also created canine mRNA arrays to study gene expression and canine miRNA arrays. These tools are the foundation of canine genetic research.

Discoveries which developed genetic tests made possible by CHF:

  • Neonatal Encephalopathy in the Standard Poodle
  • Exercised-Induced Collapse in the Labrador Retriever
  • Degenerative Myelopathy in the Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • X-Linked Progressive Retinal Atrophy (XL-PRA) in the Samoyeds and Siberian Huskies
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) in the Miniature Schnauzers, Miniature Poodles, and Toy Poodles
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) in the English Springer Spaniels
  • Juvenile Hereditary Cataracts in the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Boston Terrier
  • Cystinuria in the Newfoundlands
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) Type VI in the Miniature Pinschers
  • von Willebrand's Disease Type I
  • Congenital Stationary Night Blindness in the Briards
  • Fanconi Syndrome in the Basenjis
  • Hyperparathyroidism in the Keeshond
  • Coat Color for the Briards, English Setters, Miniature Schnauzers, and the Pug Dog
  • Ridgelessness in the Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Leonberger Polyneuropathy (LPN1)
  • Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis
  • Primary Lens Luxation

Other Research

CHF supports the work of Dr. Cynthia Otto at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center to follow the health of the Search and Rescue dogs that were deployed after 9/11. Since this this long-term study began in 2001, researchers have not identified an increase in respiratory problems or cancer in the dogs that were deployed, compared to a control group of Search and Rescue dogs.

CHF has also supported research that has improved treatments for a variety of diseases including various types of cancer and heart diseases.  Please read about our many other impact stories.

Q: How are the results of this research used and disseminated?

A: CHF-funded researchers are encouraged to publish their results in peer-reviewed journals. Through these publications and through presentations at scientific conferences, research results are shared with fellow researchers and veterinary practitioners. Ultimately, treatment advances appear in your local vet clinic. Additionally, CHF has the revised abstracts of completed grants in our searchable grants database. News releases are sent when discoveries are made to notify our constituents of these advancements.

Q: How much has CHF raised for research programs?

A: CHF allocates approximately $1 million per year to new canine health research projects. 

Q: Where does the funding come from?

A: The American Kennel Club, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company and Zoetis provide significant support. CHF receives contributions from Parent Clubs and Parent Club Foundations, All Breed Clubs and Specialty Clubs. CHF has formed alliances with organizations like the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) that make contributions in support of research. And of course, individuals, clubs and organizations contribute the balance!

Q: How can I help advance canine health?

A: There are many ways to help. If you have an AKC registered dog, submit her DNA sample (cheek swab or blood sample) to the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) DNA databank.  Encourage regular health testing by breeders (and set an example for others if you are a breeder). Get involved with your local dog club and support efforts to host health education programs. And, of course, we need your donations!

Q: How can I honor or memorialize a dog?

A: We offer a variety of ways to make a special tribute to a canine or human friend.  The Celebration Wall is a virtual memorial wall that allows you to upload a photograph of your dog that will be displayed on our website.  You might want to become a Hero for Health Research by setting up a personal fundraising page.  Your Hero page can be created in honor or memory of any loved one and used to raise funds from your family and friends.  You can also make a donation online or by mail in tribute of a dog or person.  We will mail a card to the family of your honoree or online donors can opt to send an e-card.

Q: Why are unrestricted funds important to the AKC Canine Health Foundation?

A: Unrestricted funds help CHF pay for overhead costs. Currently, we receive in-kind donations of space and services from the American Kennel Club which total more than $150,000 annually. Our alliances with Nestlé Purina PetCare Company and Zoetis also provide us with unrestricted dollars. However, these are not enough to cover the expenses we incur by providing educational programs, visiting clubs for presentations, and all the other things it takes to keep CHF running. We are proud of our record of keeping our operating expenses low so more of your donations can go to help dogs live longer, healthier lives!

Help Future Generations of Dogs

Participate in canine health research by providing samples or by enrolling in a clinical trial. Samples are needed from healthy dogs and dogs affected by specific diseases.

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