What Is OFA Certification?
OFA stands for the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. The foundation was developed in 1966. Several dogs from the same breed had developed similar issues, and a man named John M. Olin discovered the issues could be traced through a dog's linage and didn’t just randomly happen to some of the dogs.
Before blood-based genetic testing became readily available, one of the main ways to track orthopedic issues in dogs was through x-rays. Instead of just testing individual dogs with owners, the OFA Certification process began building a database. The dog's information, including the breeder, birth location, and family connections, was a part of the database.
The program is run exclusively through the University of Missouri, with several connections to vets around the world.
What Genetic Diseases Does It Cover?
Originally, the OFA Certification was established to discover hip dysplasia in dogs and is still a primary source to track any hip issues. Over the years, the expansion of DNA testing has led to several other genetic disease tracking.
Elbow dysplasia is another common condition that we would never want to breed and pass on, and dogs with bad knees could have a condition known as Patellar Luxations, which the OFA Certification tracks.
The OFA Certification also now tracks the transmission of various heart diseases, and early discovery can help prevent major problems in the future.
These are the things we refer to when saying our dogs have their Hips, Elbows, Cardiac and Patella OFA Certifications.
OFA VERSUS AKC - WHO DOES WHAT?
There is a huge difference between the AKC and the OFA. The AKC is the American Kennel Club. This organization is responsible for keeping the registry of purebred dogs in the United States. The fact that a dog is registered with the AKC means nothing more than the fact that it was born of two purebred dogs who are also registered. While purebred parents is important (even in hybrids as the point is an intentional cross of two purebred dogs), it is not an indicator of health, solid DNA or anything else. In fact, there are many AKC registered dogs that are the result of overbreeding, are unhealthy and who don't meet the breed standard as recognized by the organization.
ALL reputable breeders will perform OFA testing on their dogs and should show the certificate to those who want to adopt their pups. Out of all domesticated animals, dogs have the highest incidence of inherited genetic disorders. Sadly, over 90% of breeders do NO genetic testing or OFA testing on their breeding dogs. Many will claim they do, but when asked to show proof, they cannot.