What is Dog OFA Certification?

Make sure your breeder offers proof of OFA certification.
Make sure your breeder offers proof of OFA certification. | Source

What is OFA certification for dogs?

OFA is an acronym used to abbreviate the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, a non-profit organization located in the city of Columbia, Missouri. It's main goal is to conduct research on orthopedic hereditary conditions in animals. It was founded in 1966 by John M. Olin who grew concerned about inherited orthopedic problems after several of his dogs started suffering from hip dysplasia.

The organization's database tackles a vast array of other orthopedic issues including elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, legg-calve-perthes, and shoulder OCD. Its searchable database holds over 1,000,0000 records of pets who have been issued an OFA certification and the search results by default yield additional information about the pet's s sire, dam, siblings, half-siblings, and offspring. In the next paragraph, we will discuss why dogs are issued certification, what dogs should be OFA certified, how the certification works and why you should consider evaluating OFA ratings if you're planning to breed or purchase a puppy.

Why is OFA Certification Important?

OFA's initial mission was to " provide radiographic evaluation, data management, and genetic counseling for canine hip dysplasia." Today, OFA's goals entail much more; indeed, they have expanded their vision to " improve the health and well being of companion animals through a reduction in the incidence of genetic disease”. Indeed, OFA has expended and now covers much more than orthopedic issues such as thyroid, cardiac, congenital deafness and sebaceous adenitis.

The Importance of OFA certification for breeders

So why is OFA certification important? If you are an ethical breeder, you're not breeding to make quick money when Christmas is around the corner, but are breeding to "better the breed". Every mating should carefully be planned to prevent genetic diseases from being passed on from generation to generation. Hereditary orthopedic problems, common in your breed can be controlled through selective, well-planned breeding programs. It's your job to evaluate the recurrence of orthopedic problems in the sire and dam you're planning to breed and previous generations. If you're not sure what hereditary conditions your breed is prone to, consult with a veterinarian, local breed clubs and the OFA website statistics section. The dam you are breeding should undergo OFA testing prior to being bred and the sire's OFA test results should be available to you before mating.

This means your dog will often need to be at least 2 years old before seeing your veterinarian and having x-rays taken. Sedation may be necessary. Preliminary evaluations can be done in puppies over 4 months.The x-rays are then sent to OFA along with a complete application and a service fee. About two weeks later, OFA should provide a rating. The cost for OFA certification is as follows: $35 for hips, $35 for elbows, $40 for hips and elbows together, $15 for patellar luxation. The complete price list can be found on the OFA website.

How can you read the ratings? OFA ratings are provided under the format of OFA numbers. Example: LR-105E24M-PI It may seem difficult to decode this number, but at a closer look, it's not. LR is the abbreviation for the breed, in this case we're dealing with a Labrador Retriever. The number 105 is to indicate the number of dogs for this breed evaluated so far. The letter that follows is the most important as it's the actual rating for hip dysplasia. In this case, normal ratings include E which stands for excellent, --Recommended for breeding, G which stands for (Good)--Suitable for breeding, and F which stands for (Fair)--permissible to breed but not recommended. You then have borderline rating, and then you have dysplastic rating including mild(Grade I) , moderate (Grade II) or severe (Grade III). The following number is the age of the dog in months. The following letter is the sex of the dog. M stands for male and F for female. Finally, the last letters determine if the dogs has been permanently identified through a tattoo or microchip (PI). A dog without identification gets NOPI while a dog that was permanently identified by a veterinarian gets VPI..

The Importance of OFA Certfication for Puppy Buyers

If you are in the process of purchasing a purebred puppy, you want to make sure his parents have been OFA certified if the breed is prone to a particular orthopedic problem. Keep in mind though that your breed of choice may be prone to other hereditary problems such as eye disorders, heart disorders and other health problems. Never trust a breeder who says "none of my dogs had it" when it comes to heritable health conditions found in their lines. Code of ethics breeders, perform health tests, temperament tests and are willing to share the results of such tests and any pertinent information found in the dog's lineage.

OFA can be contacted at the following phone number and address:

(573) 442-0418 Fax Number: (573) 875-5073

Mailing Address: 2300 E. Nifong Blvd., Columbia, MO 65201-3806 Email Address: ofa@offa.org

Alexadry© all rights reserved do not copy

Dr Keller Orthopedic Foundation For Animals OFA Hip Elbow Dysplasia

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Comments 4 comments

Bob Bamberg profile image

Bob Bamberg 3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

Great hub, alexadry...full of interesting and valuable information, especially for people in the market for a puppy. It's HOD material. Voted up, useful and interesting.


alexadry profile image

alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for stopping by Bob and thanks for the votes. When I got my Rotties they came from a BYB and when I asked about their hips they said "we never had any problems'', yet my male turned out having hip dysplasia and my girl just tore a ligament. I was tempted to run away from that breeder that day but those pups were already in our arms and were too cute to give up.


Monis Mas profile image

Monis Mas 3 years ago

Interesting article, as always.


alexadry profile image

alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Monis Mas, this is a very important subject for serious breeders and puppy buyers.

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