Breeder Resources from the AKC Canine Health Foundation

06/01/2020

The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the health of all dogs and their owners through sound scientific research and the dissemination of health information. CHF works with researchers, veterinarians, breed clubs, dog owners, and breeders to find and fund studies with the greatest potential to improve the health of all dogs. It is critical that these research study results are shared with veterinarians, breeders, and owners caring for dogs. A dedicated webpage “For Breeders” can be found at akcchf.org/breeders containing the latest findings and resources described below to help breeders like you plan, produce, and care for healthier, happier dogs.

Participate in Research

Responsible breeders stay informed about the recommended health clearances for their breed. Do you know that completing and submitting health clearance information from your lines to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) is one way that you can participate in canine health research? In addition to displaying valuable pedigree and health information for other breeders and potential puppy buyers, the OFA’s Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) is an important tool used by scientists. Having a centralized repository of canine DNA with accompanying health history information saves valuable time and resources since samples and data have already been collected.

If your dog or a dog from your lines is unfortunately diagnosed with disease, owners and veterinarians can also search for CHF-funded studies actively recruiting participants. Search functions allow you to filter projects based on disease, breed, or the type(s) of samples/participation required. Participating in clinical trials is a generous way to support the health of future generations of dogs and may provide the opportunity to receive cutting edge treatment for your dog at reduced or no cost.

Genetic Resources

Genetic testing is just one of the many tools that breeders use to create healthier dogs. The recent boom in canine genetic testing options, many available directly to the consumer, makes it easy to obtain but difficult to interpret this genetic information. CHF is here to help you wisely use this relatively new science to benefit your dogs and your breeding program - to manage undesirable traits without losing good traits.

The Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) mentioned above is a helpful tool to research health clearances of potential breeding stock. CHF also supports Genetic Consultation services through the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Breeders, owners, or veterinarians can submit general or specific questions online and consult with CHF-funded geneticist Dr. Kathryn Meurs and theriogenology residents. The consultations also serve as a teaching tool, allowing veterinary students at the college to appreciate and discuss the complex decisions involved in dog breeding and managing genetic disease in individuals and populations. This service is offered to help bridge the gap between genetic disease research and practical, clinical recommendations.

Finally, CHF is one of the original collaborators in the Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs Initiative, managed by the International Partnership for Dogs. This international, multi-disciplinary project provides objective information on canine genetic tests, including breeds affected, tests available, and laboratories that offer them. The searchable online database provides information on quality indicators for each test and the laboratories that offer them, helping breeders and dog owners navigate the benefits and imperfections of genetic tests currently available.

Theriogenology Residency Program

CHF has partnered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and Theriogenology Foundation (TF) to increase the number of veterinary practitioners trained in reproductive medicine (known as theriogenology) and clinical genetics. Since CHF joined the program in 2016, the AKC/AKCCHF/TF Small Animal Theriogenology Residency Program has provided funding to train seven specialists at five different US veterinary colleges. Their expertise in the physiology and pathology of male and female reproductive systems and the clinical practice of veterinary obstetrics and neonatology is critical to assist breeders in managing the health of their breeding stock and breeding plans. These specialists understand the unique goals and challenges facing dog breeders and are an excellent resource for medical and surgical care and genetic counseling. Funding for this program has been approved through 2023, demonstrating our commitment to quality veterinary reproductive medicine and research.

Educational Resources

To help dog breeders understand best breeding practices, CHF offers a series of canine reproduction podcasts recorded in 2015 and produced in collaboration with Zoetis. The series offers interviews with experts on topics such as semen evaluation, nutritional management of the pregnant and post-partum bitch, whelping and dystocia, and more.

Canine Health Bytes is a webinar series appropriate for dog owners, breeders, and veterinary professionals, produced in collaboration with VetVine. A range of topics are presented by CHF-funded researchers on their latest findings in infectious disease, breeding management, behavioral medicine, and more.

Finally, CHF offers written articles on canine health topics in all of our research program areas. Search or browse at For Your Dog’s Health to read summaries of the latest CHF-supported scientific publications and research initiatives. Infectious Disease Fact Sheets can also be found under Top Health Concerns. This educational series provides concise and important information regarding how you and your puppy buyers can protect your dogs and the people that care for them from diseases such as brucellosis, Chagas Disease, canine parvovirus, and more.

Working Together … For the Dogs

CHF and its donors are committed to addressing the health needs of all dogs across their entire lifetime. Sharing information and working with breeders and veterinarians to advance the health of breeding stock and their offspring is the best way to ensure the well-being of the dogs that enrich our lives. The resources discussed here are available for you to use and share. Learn more about CHF at www.akcchf.org and work with us … for the dogs.

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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