Chapter 4
How To Know What Type Dog Is Best For You
CERF Certification. CERF is the Canine Eye Registration Foundation. Like OFA, CERF provides a national registry for breeders to certify their dogs' eye health. CERF founding members determined that their dogs' quality of life was being impacted by inheritable eye disease, so CERF was created to register eye health and prevent the passage of inheritable eye disease. CERF Certified dogs undergo examinations to evaluate the status of their eyesight and any diseases found. Dogs that are CERF Certified free of heritable eye diseases are free to enter into a breeding program. If the CERF exam uncovers eye disease, the dog should not enter into a breeding program due to the risk of passing on those genetic diseases to their offspring. CERF maintains a registry of CERF Certified dogs, so owners can check the status of their dogs with the CERF registry. CERF Certification does not guarantee your dog's health, but typically indicates a breeder that wants to make a positive contribution to the breed through a responsible breeding program. CERF Certification is completed annually, and the CERF number comes in this format: AS-123/10-28. The following table shows how to interpret this number. AS = Breed Abbreviation (Australian Shepherd in this case) 123 = Certificate Number 10 = The Year of the Exam (Should be completed annually) 28 = Dog's Age in Months at the Time of the Exam The CERF Certification number does not indicate the results of the exam, but the certificate provides detailed information about the results of the exam. CERF exams evaluate 7 areas of the eye, and diagnostic codes for each area are listed on the back of the certificate. What CERF Certification Does Not Mean. CERF Certification doesn't mean that your dog has no genetic predisposition to heritable eye disease. Eye disease can become a problem at almost any point in your puppy's life and your dog may show signs of eye disease after years of clear CERF exams. This is why CERF exams are conducted annually. CERF examinations can only be conducted by a veterinary ophthalmologist certified by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. A CERF Certification does not guarantee a healthy dog. It indicates the breeder is interested in producing healthy, quality puppies, and that your dog is more likely to come from healthy stock. Responsible breeders tend to produce healthier dogs, so CERF Certification, like OFA Certification is one more way to slant the odds in your favor that a dog is apt to be disease-free.