Canine Health Information Center (CHIC)

Health problems, in general, are not common in Shelties; however, testing of breeding stock is a recommended practice to keep the incidence of certain problems as low as possible. It must be remembered that dogs are animals, not machines, and on average, every dog has 4 to 5 defective genes[1]. Congenital and/or hereditary problems will occur no matter how conscientious a breeder is. Nonetheless, breeders should strive to breed Shelties that are a combination of beautiful breed type and good health.

The Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) is a canine health database program jointly sponsored by the AKC/Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Its purpose is to assist breeders in breeding healthy dogs and being a central resource of health information for breeders, owners, and researchers. Over 100 breed clubs participate in the program. The national club for each participating breed recommends health tests to be performed in dogs used for breeding. The number and types of tests are tailored to the needs of each breed. . Dogs that have the required tests posted in the OFA public database will receive a CHIC number, and the CHIC database can be searched for dogs having CHIC numbers. Additional health tests may be recommended, but are considered optional for that breed. Normalcy is not required for participation in the CHIC program; abnormal results of any test are only released to the public with owner permission. As new tests become available, the list of required and optional tests may be altered. Participation in the CHIC program is voluntary. The Shetland Sheepdog, at the request of the ASSA, has been part of the CHIC program since 2008.

Breed requirements for Shetland Sheepdogs are as listed below and on the CHIC Shetland Sheepdog web page. In addition to the requirements below, a CHIC requirement is that each dog must be permanently identified (verified by the testing veterinarian) via microchip or tattoo in order to qualify for a CHIC number.

DNA testing Laboratories

There are many laboratories offering the DNA tests listed below.   Most have periodic sales/discounts.  The OFA has listed many laboratories on its website under the section, “DNA Disease Based Tests”, https://ofa.org/all-dna-tests/ .  Be sure to go directly to each laboratory’s website to find the most up-to-date listing of tests offered.

Although the ASSA does not have a preferred laboratory, it has joined the GenSol Diagnostics Partner Program.  With the Program, American Shetland Sheepdog Association (ASSA) members will receive 20% off their first GenSol orders (no minimum) and free first-class shipping on domestic orders of $50 or more within the United States when using GenSol’s exclusive code. Clubs will be provided with two complimentary gift certificates for breed-specific panels for use during shows or events.  The coupon code for ASSA members is located in the Member’s Only section of the ASSA website. When members place their first orders with GenSol, they will begin to earn loyalty points for every purchase made. (One point for every $10 spent with GenSol.) Once 50 points have been accumulated, customers will receive a $50 credit on their accounts.  Click on the GenSol Icon below to go to their website:

Required, Elective & Optional Tests

Required tests: For more information see Explanation of Required Tests

  • Hip dysplasia evaluation (OFA or PennHIP)
  • Eye clearance – Eye examination by a board certified American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) veterinarian with the results registered with OFA.

Plus at least 2 from the elective test list below:

Elective tests*: For more information see Explanation of Elective Tests

  • von Willebrand's Disease Type III DNA test
  • Multiple drug sensitivity (MDR1) DNA test
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis - OFA evaluation from an approved laboratory
  • Collie eye anomaly DNA test
  • Elbow dysplasia evaluation (OFA)
  • Dermatomyositis - The 3-gene DNA test as developed by Clemson Genetics Lab

*Test results must be registered with OFA.

Optional tests (not required for a CHIC number): For more information see Explanation of Optional Tests

  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DNA test with result registered with the OFA).
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (There are DNA tests for at least 2 forms of PRA in Shelties - CNGA1 and BBS2).
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Congenital cardiac database (OFA evaluation by board certified cardiologist or internal medicine specialist)
  • Lance Canine Tooth Susceptibility (MCM DNA test)
  • Dentition database - dental exam by licensed veterinarian to certify full dentition

New tests for potentially inherited disorders appear each year. The ASSA Research Advisory Committee will periodically update this section as needed. Some tests may be placed in the CHIC section. Only tests for which the research has been substantiated by publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals and/or accepted by OFA for inclusion in their database will be considered.

*When the ASSA joined the CHIC program in 2008, there were 4 required tests (Hip x-rays - OFA or PennHIP, Eye clearance- CERF, vWD- VetGen, and MDR1 DNA test). Requirements were changed as noted above May, 2011.  The DNA test for dermatomyositis was added to the Elective Test list in 2017.

[1] George A. Padgett, DVM, Michigan State University, Prioritizing Genetic Defects, http://www.sonic.net/~cdlcruz/GPCC/library/PadgettDefects.htm