Is Your Dog CHIC?

Yes, that is my Chase (CH JeanE’s Chasing The Storm) pictured above. She wants everyone to be aware of the importance of having your dog’s health tested and buying a puppy from a breeder who does health testing on their dogs.

By Deb Eldredge, DVM

CHIC may sound like a fashion statement, but for dogs it refers to a certification of health clearances. The American Kennel Club joined forces through its Canine Health Foundation with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals to develop a program so that researchers, breeders, and puppy buyers would have a wealth of health information at their fingertips or computer terminals as it may be!  CHIC is the Canine Health Information Center. For each breed, the primary or parent breed club decides what health clearances are most important for that breed. If your dog completes the required tests through an approved program, he or she qualifies for a CHIC number. So far 84 breeds have joined this program for health.

I have two Belgian Tervurens. Dani, Summerstorm Coyote Dancing, is a seven year old spayed bitch; she is a breed champion with lots of performance titles to her credit. Hokey (Sensation’s Coyote Heart Dance) is a two year old neutered male with lots of performance titles too. Both Dani and Hokey have completed the health tests required for their breed. For a Belgian Tervuren to earn a CHIC number, the dog must have hip and elbow evaluations by radiographs (x-rays), an eye evaluation by a veterinary ophthalmologist, and a thyroid panel by an approved laboratory.

Dani and Hokey had good results for all these tests. They did need anesthesia for their x-rays, but the eye exam was completed while they were awake, and the thyroid was tested via a blood sample. I admit, health testing is not their favorite thing in life, but they handled it all well. A few treats post-testing and a quick game of ball really helped their attitudes. You may wonder why I did all those tests on my dogs when they won’t even be bred. I did the tests for two reasons. First, it was for MY knowledge. My dogs run and jump in agility and obedience and work hard at herding and tracking. I want to be sure that their bodies are capable of doing that work. I want to be sure they can jump without pain and see the sheep or dumbbell they need to fetch. The thyroid is a master gland and a thyroid problem can gradually creep up and cause many underlying symptoms. I want to be sure my dogs are healthy. Second, while my dogs aren’t being bred, they have siblings who will be or have been. The CHIC tests provide a wealth of added information to the health pedigree that can help breeders make decisions on what lines to use or avoid. Belgian Tervurens are not a common breed and those of us who own Tervurens help each other as much as we can to preserve our breed. Already, over 200 Tervurens have CHIC numbers, a wonderful accomplishment for such a small number breed. And yes, my dogs may need a little help in the fashion department, but they ARE CHIC!

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