How to get a CHIC Number for your GSP 201; Revised 9/19/17
By; Cathy Iacopelli
To start, if you are reading this hopefully that means that you are interested in having your GSP CHIC certified and I want to thank you for that. I have heard a lot of complaints from people regarding the CHIC certification program since GSPs were added to the list of included breeds. People have argued that you can obtain a CHIC number for a dog who has not passed the required testing, and that is true. A CHIC number is not awarded based on the test results themselves; but rather it is awarded to dogs that have had all of the required tests done and the results (good or not so good) posted for all to see on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals web site. So it is not so much a mark of good health of the actual dog, but more as a mark of interest in good health through testing and sharing by the owner of the dog. If you are considering breeding to a dog who is CHIC certified, you must either ask for copies of their OFA certificates for your records or go to OFFA.org to see the results of each individual test in order to know if that dog was certified clear of the issues tested for.
Never breed to a dog based on its having a CHIC
number alone without having investigated the test results!
First things first, Permanent Identification is required! Each dog must be permanently identified in order to qualify for CHIC certification. Permanent identification may be in the form of a microchip or a tattoo.
The health tests required by the GSPCA for CHIC certification as of May 1, 2014 (yes the GSPCA controls which tests GSPs need completed for certification) are:
1. Hip Dysplasia. Hips are certified through x-rays taken and submitted for evaluation by either OFA or Penn HIP. These tests require the use of an experienced veterinarian to take the necessary x-ray(s). Positioning of the hips is VERY important and so it is crucial to use a veterinarian who is comfortable with the procedure. Further, for Penn HIP, the veterinarian must be certified by Penn HIP.
OFA tests the shape and tightness of the hip joint components while Penn HIP tests the laxity of the hips. These two methods are somewhat opposite of each other. OFA tells you whether your dog currently has hip dysplasia, or evidence of it developing but not the possibility that they may develop it later if there is no evidence of it at the time of the x-ray. OFA will NOT give a permanent grade/certification to any dog under 24 months of age at the time of the x-ray. OFA x-rays can be done with or without anesthesia and only require one view. OFA x-rays need not be submitted should they not receive a passing grade. If you don’t like the positioning you may want to try for a better film. There is a box on the OFA Application to check if you do not want abnormal/non passing test results published on their website.
Penn HIP tells you more about whether your dog MAY develop hip dysplasia, but with no certainty one way or another. Penn Hip must be done under anesthesia and requires three views. Penn HIP can be done on dogs as young as 16 weeks. Penn HIP x-rays cannot be withheld from submission if they don’t come out the way you would like.
In either case your vet should submit the films directly to OFA or Penn HIP. When you make your appointment you should bring your OFA form all filled out with the dog and owner’s information, and payment for the certification to OFA ($35). It usually takes about three to four weeks to receive your results, but may take longer if they are very busy. Expect to see the certificate in your mailbox before the results will appear on the OFA web site for OFA. See link below for the OFA Hip/elbow application.
2. Elbow Dysplasia. The requirement for elbow certification was added recently and goes into effect on May 1, 2014. The dog must be at least 24 months old for elbow certification. In the past elbow certification was an optional test. Elbows are certified through x-rays taken and submitted for evaluation by OFA. As is the case with hip x-rays, positioning is important. In the best case scenario, you would have your dog’s hips and elbows x-rayed at the same time. This would not be possible if you were using Penn HIP for hips as Penn HIP does not certify elbows. If you are using OFA and anesthesia, doing both on the same day saves you money as well as limiting the number of times you must put your dog under anesthesia. The fee to certify elbows through OFA is $35 alone, but only an additional $5 if you do them together with hips. See link below for the OFA Hip/elbow application.
3. Cardiac. Cardiac clearance can be done either by simple auscultation (listening with a stethoscope) or by echocardiograph. The minimum age for cardiac clearance for CHIC certification has recently been raised by the GSPCA from 12 months to 24 months. Dogs tested before 24 months can still get an OFA clearance, but they cannot qualify for a CHIC number unless tested again after the age of 24 months. Cardiac testing must be done by a board certified cardiologist in order to qualify for CHIC certification. You must also bring your OFA form to the appointment with you to have the cardiologist fill it out. Since there are no films to submit, this form can be faxed to OFA if you pay by credit or debit card ($15) and certification usually takes about two weeks.
** As of April 1, 2016 OFA is offering the Advanced Cardiac Database (ACA), which will eventually replace the existing Congenital Cardiac Database. The Adult Onset clearance must be done annually to remain current, but the congenital clearance still remains good for life. See more here: http://www.offa.org/pdf/ACA_Announcement.pdf
4. Cone Degeneration. Retinal Cone Degeneration or CD is a genetic disease in GSPs that is inherited recessively and causes affected dogs to become “Day Blind” at about seven to twelve weeks of age. It is progressive, meaning that it is slight at first and continues to worsen as the dog’s retinal cones degenerate. In my experience, this does not result in a dog with just impaired vision in daylight, but sometimes total blindness in any light. Because this is inherited recessively, both parents must be carriers of the disease or affected by it in order to produce it in a puppy. An affected dog is eventually apparent, a carrier is not.
This test is done with either a blood sample (at Optigen) or a cheek swab. The cheek swab is the easier and less costly option and does not require the use of a veterinarian. You must take care to swab the dog’s cheek on both sides of the mouth and be sure that you have gotten cheek cells on the swab. Do not swab your dog’s mouth shortly after eating or drinking for best results. I suggest using at least two swabs. Then you must allow the swabs to dry in a safe place where it will not be contaminated before placing them in an envelope to send to the testing facility of your choice.
There are three companies doing CD testing now. The first is Optigen. You can go to Optigen.com to find the application that you need to fill out. The cost of this test is $130 without discounts. If you look on the Optigen.com web site, you might find a “20/20 clinic” where discounted testing is being offered. If you fill out your forms online and submit the swabs in conjunction with a 20/20 clinic, the cost drops down to $97.50. If both of your dog’s parents are individually cleared and have their own certification numbers, you can do the test on your dog for the further discounted rate of $75. All three of these options will give your dog its own individual certification.
The second company doing CD testing is UC Davis. UC Davis uses cheek swabs only (you must use theirs) and charges $50, or $45 for three or more dogs.
The third company doing CD testing is Paw Print Genetics, but they are currently only offering it as part of a GSP Panel that includes CD. DM (Degenerative Myelopathy - See below for a description of this disease), Hyperuricsuria, and Von Willebrand Disease II. The cost for this panel is $260.
There is also a fourth option for CHIC certification for Cone Degeneration and that is “Cleared By Parentage”. In this instance, both parents must be individually tested “Clear” for Cone Degeneration and have their results posted on the OFA website. In order to apply for a CBP number, you must submit an OFA DNA Based Genetic Database application (see link below) with copies of DNA certifications for the sire, dam and offspring and the $15 application fee. Dogs can only receive a CBP number in the first generation. Offspring of dogs with CBP numbers must be individually tested. I have heard people complaining about this process also. But it is a way to get a certification for $15 instead of having to pay full price, and such an advantage will likely come with a little extra work. See the link below for the OFA policy on CBP.
There are three testing results possible with CD testing. They are Normal (non carrier), Carrier and Affected.
Normal dogs will not develop CD, nor would they ever produce a carrier or affected dog if bred to a normal mate.
- Carrier dogs will also never develop CD, but they can produce carrier offspring if bred to a normal mate. They can produce carrier and affected offspring if bred to a carrier mate. Carriers should not be bred to another carrier.
- Affected dogs will develop CD. They will produce all carrier offspring with normal mates, and affected and carrier offspring with carrier mates. Affected dogs should not be bred.
*You can post results for affected dogs on OFA’s web site and still qualify for a CHIC number. Affected dog’s results are free to post on OFA, but you do still need to submit an application with your test results.
5. Eye Exam. The eye examination must be performed by a Board Certified ACVO Ophthalmologist. CHIC requirements set by the GSPCA call for annual exams until the age of 6 years, but set no age for a first test. However, once you have posted your exam results to OFA once, you will receive your CHIC number if all other testing is complete. But if you do not continue to post annual exams, your CHIC icon will be grey in color instead of purple, showing that your eye exam is not current.
For eye testing, you go to an ophthalmologist or an Eye Clinic and have your dog examined; afterward you to send the form you received to OFA with the appropriate fee to get a certificate. You do not get a certificate automatically with the exam; you must send the form in by mail or by fax. You can check a box on the form to keep your results private.
**Note here that should you put the form aside and not send it in promptly, once a year has passed you cannot post those results.
When your dog is examined, there are different result categories. What we would all hope for is “Normal”. But there are also some designations called “Breeder Option Diagnosis”. These are eye issues that the ACVO suspect to be inherited but do not represent potential compromise of vision or other ocular function. Breeder Options are divided into seven categories. Should your dog have a Breeder Option Diagnosis issue, the category will be listed on both the registry websites and on the dog’s individual certificate. Some Breeder options are breed specific. See the links below for Breeder Option Diagnosis codes for both OFA and CERF. The last result you can encounter is an eye issue that will cause your dog to fail the testing. These issues are listed on the OFA and CERF websites. You can post these results and still qualify for a CHIC number. Failed testing results are free to post on OFA, but you do need to submit an application.
The following tests have been deemed “optional” by the GSPCA. You are not required to do any of them to obtain a CHIC number but I will describe them anyway for those who are interested in more complete testing.
1. Thyroid. Thyroid testing may only be submitted to OFA for certification if it is done at an OFA approved laboratory. Testing is done using blood. Please see the link below for a list of OFA approved labs. The GSPCA recommends repeating this test every two years. US Davis is an approved lab. Here is a link to their application form: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vmth/small_animal/laboratory/local-assets/pdfs/UCDavis_VMTH_OFA_Canine_Thyroid_Registry_Submission_form.pdf
2. Von Willebrands Disease. vWD is a genetic bleeding disorder. The vWD Type II test is a DNA based test and so you can use either blood or a cheek swab. vWB results are similar to CD results in that you can have Normal, Carrier and Affected dogs. Please see the descriptions and table in the CD paragraph for what these different results mean. Here is the link to the VetGen website to order the test. Please note this same link will take you to the site to order tests for coat color (dilute) in GSPs. http://www.vetgen.com/ordertests.aspx?id=German Shorthaired Pointer
Here is a link to Paw Print Genetics:
3. Lupoid Dermatosis. LD is a fatal skin disease and so it deserves serious attention.
LD is very tough on the dog and it’s family, destroys their quality of life and breaks the heart of any loving owner who has to put their beloved dog down even though it’s mind is intact. LD dogs rarely survive past the age of five or six years. Like CD it
is a recessively inherited genetic disease. There have been some questions raised by people in the breed regarding the reliability of this test. It is my understanding that the test is 99% reliable when done with a blood sample. So my advice would be to use a blood sample and not a cheek swab for this test. I personally would hate to produce a litter containing pups with this disease and so I will not skip this test in any of my breeding animals. Again, the results of this test will be Normal, Carrier or Affected. University of PA no longer accepts handwritten test submission forms, you must use their online system. Here is the link for the website: http://research.vet.upenn.edu/InstructionsforSampleSubmission/SubmissionForms/ tabid/2860/Default.aspx
There is also some additional testing available that is not required for CHIC Certification, yet many breeders recognize the importance of these tests and so I will mention them also.
Coat Color testing. Some colors have snuck into our breed and they don’t belong there. In order to be sure you don’t produce these colors, you can do coat color testing.
Coat color testing is available at
A: Paw Print Genetics
C: GenSol Diagnostics
D: UC Davis
The colors we normally test for in GSPs are Grey (Dilute D Locus) and/or Yellow (Lemon E Locus)
Degenerative Myelopathy. DM is an inherited neurologic disorder known to be carried by GSPs. The mutation is found in many breeds, however it is not clear for GSPs whether all dogs carrying two copies of the mutation will actually develop the disease. The disease affects the White Matter tissue of the spinal cord and is comparable to Lou Gehrigs Disease in humans. Affected dogs usually present in adulthood with gradual muscle atrophy and loss of coordination typically beginning in the hind limbs due to degeneration of the nerves. The condition is not typically painful for the dog, but will progress until the dog is no longer able to walk. You can read more about it here: https://www.pawprintgenetics.com/products/tests/details/87/?breed=120
DM testing is offered by Paw Print Genetics and Gen Sol Diagnostics
Hyperuricosuria. HU is an inherited condition of the urinary system affecting several breeds of dogs including GSPs. Dogs with HU will have elevated levels of Uric Acid in the urine which can cause crystals or stones to form in the urinary tract. You can read more about it here:
Paw Print Genetics and UC Davis offer HU testing
In closing I hope that you have found this information useful. If you find any discrepancies, or items in need of updating, please contact me at Catherine.email@example.com. And thanks again for caring about the future health of our breed!
Claddagh Kennels, Reg.
Some Useful links for CHIC testing:
Penn HIP Website:
OFA Hip/Elbow application:
UC Davis - CD testing Website:
OFA Cardiac application: OFA Eye Breeder Option Codes:
OFA DNA Based Genetic Database application:
OFA Cleared By Parentage Policy:
OFA Approved Labs for Thyroid testing