By Gayle Kaye

CERF stands for Canine Eye Registration Foundation. The organization was conceived in 1974 by a group of concerned dog breeders in the San Francisco area. Eventually CERF moved to its present location at Purdue University in Indiana.

AKC allows CERF numbers on the AKC registration form. Per the “Special Services” Department at AKC, as of July 1, 1996, OFA and CERF transfers are made to the AKC database with dogs that have been permanently and positively identified. This means that your dog has to be either tattooed or micro-chipped at the time of testing. CERF downloads the current CERF number to AKC on a quarterly basis. AKC carries the current CERF number for 2 calendar years. Then if the CERF number is not renewed, AKC drops the CERF number off the AKC registration.

In order to obtain a CERF number, a dog or puppy must be checked by a member of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. That Doctor has to fill out an ACVO/CERF examination report. The owner submits the report, with the appropriate fee, to CERF headquarters. In order for a CERF number to be issued, certain criteria must first be met. There are no exceptions!

The first set of conditions applies to all breeds. In order to obtain a CERF number, none of the following conditions can exist in any breed, under any conditions:

1) Cataracts 2) lens subluxation or Luxation 3) Glaucoma 4) PHPV (persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous) 5) retinal detachment 6) retinal dysplasia 7) PRA optic nerve coloboma

The next set of conditions is breed specific and in our case, applies to Collies only. In order for a CERF number to be issued, none of the conditions below can exist in our breed:

1) Choroidal hypoplasia 2) staphyloma/coloboma
3) Retinal hemorrhage 4) retinal atrophy
5) Microthalmia

The breed-specific eye diseases obviously differ from breed to breed. Once a dog passes all the required criteria, a CERF number is issued.

There is a lot of information in the CERF number. The number is actually a combination of 4 different elements. The first two elements show the breed abbreviation and the unique CERF number for a specific animal. The last two elements show the last examination date and the animal’s age in months at the time of examination. For example: a Collie is given the number…..CO-1377/1999-36……the CO stands for Collie; the 1377 is that particular dog’s unique CERF number; the 1999 stands for the last year the dog was checked; and the 36 is the dog’s age in months (in this example the dog was 36 months at it’s last CERF examination). If you are considering breeding to a dog that is 6 years old and his CERF number ends in 36, then you know that dog has not been registered with CERF for the last 3 years. CERF recommends that all breeding stock be checked and registered with CERF on yearly basis. A CERF number is ONLY valid for one year from the date of the last examination. This system guards against the possibility of an animal given a CERF number at 6 weeks, that goes onto develop PRA by the time they are a year old! Unfortunately this is a common fallacy that one hears…...that a dog can be assigned a CERF number, but develop PRA at a later date.

Unfortunately there are many misconceptions surrounding both CERF and OFA. A major area of confusion is AKC’s involvement with the two registries and most importantly the actual meaning of the CERF and OFA numbers. The usage of the CERF and OFA numbers on the AKC registration form is something worked out between CERF and OFA, and the AKC. Anyone can obtain the following information by contacting CERF, OFA and the AKC.

Further information on CERF may be obtained by writing or calling: CERF at 1248 Lynn Hall, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, telephone 1-765-494-8179; The American Kennel Club, call 1-919-233-9767. Here is the link to the CERF Website.

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