Canine Health Information Center Database

The IWCA participates in the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) health database, which is a joint project of the AKC's Canine Health Foundation and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). As the US national club for Irish Wolfhounds (also called the "parent club" for the breed), the IWCA defines what health conditions an Irish Wolfhound must be tested for in order to qualify for a CHIC certification number. Note that the dog must be permanently identified (microchip or tattoo), and all tests must be performed (not necessarily passed) and the results registered and made public to receive this number.

There are 4 health conditions which adult Irish Wolfhounds must be screened for in this program:

  • hereditary heart disease
  • hereditary eye disease
  • hip dysplasia
  • elbow dysplasia

If you have your Irish Wolfhound tested for all these conditions, register the results with OFA, and opt to release the results publicly, your dog will automatically receive a CHIC number.  

There is a fee associated with each registration form, which is in addition to the veterinary expenses associated with each test.

While it is not required that a dog be retested in order to maintain a CHIC number, remember that heart and eye disease may not appear until the dog is older. Retesting annually identifies changes in your dog's health that may require new or different treatment and adds vauable information to the health database.

Heart Testing

Irish Wolfhounds are prone to several diseases of the heart, including atrial fibrillation, Irish Wolfhound type cardiomyopathy, and congestive heart failure. Some may also have ventricular premature contractions. A few wolfhounds have congenital valve defects. The good news is that great progress has been made in treating canine heart disease in general and in Irish Wolfhounds in particular. Early detection is critical to maintaining a good quality of life for as long as possible.

The CHIC requirement for Irish Wolfhounds is screening for adult onset and congenital cardiac disease as mandated by the OFA Advanced Cardiac Database (ACA). The ACA recently declared all cardiac clearances must include an echocardiogram by a veterinary cardiologist - no matter what the breed or the breed’s cardiac problems. This unfortunately does not provide adequate clearance for acquired hereditary IW cardiomyopathy. To better reflect healthy hearts in the IW and recognize owners caring enough to test, the cardiac requirement for IW CHIC number has been updated to the initial auscultation and echocardiogram mandated by the ACA and participation in the IW EKG open database. A yearly EKG will be requested and results forwarded to the IWCA EKG database. CHIC numbers are not revoked for non-participation. However this is a great step forward for the IW community to pursue meaningful testing and results and for the CHIC number to identify those owners willing to support improved cardiac testing. At present the OFA reports 98.7% of IWs have normal hearts - this does not reflect reality. The IWCA EKG database and new requirement will begin January 2022. The cardiac requirement until that time will be an auscultation and echocardiogram by a board certified veterinary cardiologist. 

How is this test performed? For the EKG, electronic leads are clipped to your dog's skin in several places. A machine reads and graphs your dog's heart rhythm. Auscultation involves listening to the heart with a stethoscope to determine if there are murmurs or other sounds that might be due to malformations of the valves. For an echocardiogram, the cardiologist moves a small transducer wand on your dog's chest and an echocardiography machine produces a sonogram of your dog's heart as it beats. 
Who can perform this test? An ACVIM board certified canine cardiologist.
Is anesthesia required? No.
How old must my dog be? At least 24 months old.  
How do I register the results? When the cardiologist completes the test he will provide you with the white copy of the results. Send this to the OFA with the registration fee.

Eye Testing

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), is an inherited disease which can cause blindness in Irish Wolfhounds. OFA screening for congenital eye diseases includes PRA. As in human eye examinations, a dog's pupils must be dilated so the opthamologist can better see the retina. The examination is painless.

How is this test performed? The opthamologist will put the dilation drops in your dog's eyes, and then you will have to wait abut half an hour for them to take effect. The opthamologist will then examine your dog's eyes in a darkened room with several different tyes of equipment.
Who can perform this test? A board certified canine opthamologist.
Is anesthesia required? No.
How old must my dog be? At least 12 months old.  
How do I register the results? Complete the form given to you by the opthamologist and send your copy to OFA after the exam is complete. 

Hip Dysplasia Testing

Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the hips have more laxity in the joint than they should, leading to arthritic changes, loss of function, and pain.  In extreme cases hip replacement surgery may be required. Fortunately, severe hip dysplasia is not common in Irish Wolfhounds. However, it does occur, and testing is recommended.

How is this test performed? The dog's hips must be xrayed. 
Who can perform this test? Any veterinarian should be able to do xrays for OFA registration. PennHip is an alternative xray method for diagnosing hip dysplasia which must be performed by a veterinarian who has been trained in the method. The results of either method can be registered with OFA for CHIC certification, although there is an additional charge for registering a PennHip evaluation report.
Is anesthesia required? For OFA, that depends on your veterinarian. For PennHip, because of the position the hips need to be placed in, the dog must be sedated.
How old must my dog be? For OFA, the dog must be at least 24 months old. PennHip evaluations can be done on dogs as young as 16 weeks, but the reliability of the results increases as the dog matures.
How do I register the results? If you opt for an OFA xray evauation, complete the OFA form and give it to your veterinarian to send to OFA with your dog's xrays. For PennHip, you will need to get a copy of the PennHip evaluation report from your veterinarian and send it along with a $25 fee to CHIC and ask that the results be included in the CHIC database.

Elbow Dysplasia Testing

Elbow dysplasia is term covering several disorders of the canine elbow, any of which can cause lameness. 

How is this test performed? The dog's elbows must be xrayed. 
Who can perform this test? Any veterinarian should be able to do these xrays.
Is anesthesia required? No, although some sedation may be necessary in order to relax the joint enough to position it for the xrays.
How do I register the results? Complete the OFA form and give it to your veterinarian to send to OFA with your dog's xrays.  

This page was last updated 07/06/2021.