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LavenderRott November 27th, 2006 11:22 PM

The Importance of OFA's and Cerf's.
I mentioned in another thread the importance of OFA's and CERF's. Since there was a bit of a differing of opinion on when this should be done, I thought I would post this and maybe teach someone something new.


The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals tracks genetic defects in all breeds of dogs. Certifications can not be done before the dog is fully mature (age 2). The catagories that are certified by the OFA include:

Hip dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia
Patellar Luxation
Congential Deafness
Sebaceous Adentis
Shoulder OCD

Ratings are given from Poor to Excellent and an ethical breeder will not breed a dog that has a) not been certified and b) doesn't score at least a Good.

The reason that these are important is so that a breeder doesn't breed puppies that are crippled or dead by the age of 2. An ethical breeder can not only tell you the ratings of the dogs they are breeding but the ratings of the dogs several generations back in the pedigree and of the pups in the litters that those dogs have produced. This is very important not only to the life and health of the litter of puppies that are being considered - but for the breed as a whole.


Canine Eye Registry Foundation

CERF tracks different genetic issues from 7 different catagories or parts of the eye. Everything from Cherry Eye to different types of genetic blindness.

Again - an ethical breeder knows the CERF ratings of not only the pair they are breeding but the generations before and pups.

The reasons for researching the breed of dog you want are many. Not only do you want to get a breed that fits into your lifestyle - but you really need to know the genetic issues that you might be dealing with. Would you really want to pay a lot of money and then find out a year later that you were going to have to pay $2,000 (per hip) for a surgery just so that your dog can walk at age 2?

If you are buying a dog from a breeder, these are things that should be thought of BEFORE a dog is bred, let alone before the pups "hit the ground". Finding out when the pups are 8 weeks old that the mom has hip dysplasia isn't helping that pup out much.

mafiaprincess November 27th, 2006 11:31 PM

Lavender, Can this be copied and pasted elsewhere in future if quoted to you?
I think it's a rocking explanation, one far better than I could ever give.

MyBirdIsEvil November 27th, 2006 11:34 PM

:thumbs up Good post. Simple and educational.

White Wolf November 27th, 2006 11:38 PM

Stuck. :)

mummummum November 27th, 2006 11:42 PM

Excellent reading! This would make a great entry for the "Encyclopedia".

OntarioGreys November 28th, 2006 08:24 AM

Some of the tests need to be repeated yearly

for Legg-Calve-Perthes even if minor a dog should not be bred ever with this disease.

LavenderRott November 28th, 2006 11:38 AM

[QUOTE=OntarioGreys;325566]Some of the tests need to be repeated yearly

for Legg-Calve-Perthes even if minor a dog should not be bred ever with this disease.[/QUOTE]

Since Rottweilers are the breed I know, I can tell you what on that list they need to be tested for and how often. I had never heard of Legg-Calve - Perthes before I typed this up last night.

This is why it is so very important to do your research BEFORE you decide on a breed of dog or a breeder.

Also - if your breeder says that his/her dogs have their OFA's a nd CERF's - you CAN check this. You can search either database to find your breeder's dogs. Checking is important as the paperwork can, and has, been forged by people who are, shall we say, less then ethical.

OntarioGreys December 5th, 2006 06:11 PM

There is a little catch to this and this is where you really need to know the breeder history and how and where they choose breeding partners for their dogs, and this kind of hit me afterward when I was looking up something afterward eg a cocker spaniel breeder that had a bred a dog I had several years ago and this becomes a problem because not everyone knows their breeders history.

Some breeders have been in the show and breeding circuit for 20 + years they have a long establish breedline that has over the years proven to be genetically free from disease and use breeding partners with other breeder who are the same, if they want to introduce a new dog into their breeding program that they are not as familiar with the pedigree lines then genetic testing would be done to ensure they are clean before breeding.

With breeding for 20 years a breeder could potentially have 40 generations from their first foundation dogs if each generation was bred at 2 years old, which would mean after that many generations any problems would be known

So incases where several generations have proven clear on both parents it does not make a lot of sense to pay for screening for continued genetic screening because they will continue to be free because there is no genetic disease in the breedlines, problems would only occur if unproven lines were added into the pedigrees

So no current genetic testing in this case does not make for a bad breeder, since they have a history of genetically clear dogs, this is where pedigrees becomes very important to look at and if other breeder dogs are introduced to the breed line, contacting them to learn their breeding history should be considered too and talking to other long stand breeders as well to see if they have had heard of any genetic problem within the breed line. THey should have some past genetic testing done though on their breed line and copies genetic records from other breedlines that were introduced into the breed line,

So I would not necessary disqualify a breeder that has no current testing done, if they have a long showing and breeding history with a proven long breed line especially if there is some documentation of health testing with other breeder dogs added to the lines. In some ways would prefer a dog from them than a newer breeder with genetic testing, because even today some health issues cannot be screened for yet and there is no genetic testing for temperament and in some breeds there are a huge number of possible genetic problems. not every longterm breeder would be good which is why tryig to check them out by talking to other longterm breeders in the area would be a good idea, if they are good their dogs will be highly regarded by other breeders, and breed rescues may also know if there is any problem with the breeder if there are problems they tend to be the ones picking up the pieces.

Any newer breeders though I would expect genetic testing to be done and proven if they are selling pups

LavenderRott December 5th, 2006 06:40 PM

OG - while I understand what you are saying, I must respectfully disagree.

First off - unless the breeder has the histories of every single puppy that was a product of their kennel (this would include all offspring of any puppies that they sold) then they CAN NOT be certain that their lines of free of genetic defect.

Also - in this day and age of the internet, I wouldn't take the word of a website as to the perfection of someone's breeding lines. Since many people shop for a dog on the world wide web - having a breeder put on their website that their dogs are free of disease but having nothing to back up that claim would be a MAJOR red flag for me.

Someone who is truly an ethical breeder - breeding only for the betterment of the breed and not the money in their bank account - would not balk at getting OFA's and Cerf's done on any dogs that they plan to breed.

Kodiak Bear April 3rd, 2007 11:12 PM

I totally agree. OFA's and Cert's are important. Also, alot of good breeders are now trying to breed with older (6+) males. That allows time for more problems to show up. Of course the females are younger. All of us want our pets to be healthy and live long lives.

satchelp April 4th, 2007 07:51 PM

In Canada, the registry that is used most often for certifications is OVC, not OFA.

BPISS June 7th, 2007 08:50 AM

OVC has a different rating system for Hips that I (personally) don't like. OVC gives your Hips a Pass or Fail, that's it. OFA however, will give you a definate grade, F=Fair G=Good E=Excellent. It may cost more, but IMO worth more.
I also would like to add thet CERF exams on Breeding Stock should be done every year. My Dog passed his first CERF, but failed each consecutive test, so this would be critical information if I were to be using him at Stud.

satchelp June 27th, 2007 12:10 AM

OVC is actually more strict than OFA with ratings. OVC only certifies hips that are Excellent or Good. Anything less is a 'fail'. I have known of people who did not get a 'pass' with OVC with hips that are 'fair', but can still get a certification from OFA. Some breeders won't breed 'fair' hips; some do.

Dean55 October 20th, 2007 11:59 PM

I disagree with the opinion and statement that a responsible breeder will only breed two dogs that have a good rating from the OFA. I think if one researches other countries hip rating schemes who use a number rating which is better you could understand the reasons why this statement is flawed. In addition a dog to which is considered non-dysplastic recieves the grade of fair-good-excellent and as such breeding a fair to excellent or fair to a good is quite exceptable in the scheme.

On the issue of the cerf clearance it is not nec that a responsible breeder know the history of the granparents or beyound if both parents have been cleared. In addition there is now a DNA test that can be performed to establish carrier status (optigen) and then it only becomes nec to know if both parents are DNA Clear to which then the offspring no longer needs tested as they cannot develope/present.

hope that helps to better educate thiose who are curious.

Also just because you breed two excellents together it is no guarantee that dogs cannot develope hip displasia as HD status is also considered effected by environmental influences as the dog ages..


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