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CERF Information

Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF)


The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) is an organization that was founded by a group of concerned, purebred owner/breeders who recognized that the quality of their dog's lives were being affected by heritable eye disease. CERF was then established in conjunction with cooperating, board certified, veterinary ophthalmologists, as a means to accomplish the goal of elimination of heritable eye disease in all purebred and recently hybrid dogs by forming a centralized, national registry.

The CERF Registry not only registers those dog's certified free of heritable eye disease by board certified Veterinary Ophthalmologists (A.C.V.O. ), but also collects data on all dogs examined by A.C.V.O. Diplomates. These data are used to form the CERF research database which is useful in researching trends in eye disease and breed susceptibility. Not only are these data useful to clinicians and students of ophthalmology, but to interested breed clubs and individual breeders and owners of specific breeds.


After the painless examination of the dogs eyes, the A.C.V.O. Diplomate will complete the CERF form and indicate any specific disease(s) found. Breeding advice will be offered based on guidelines established for that particular breed by the genetics Committee of the A.C.V.O. Bear in mind that CERF and the A.C.V.O. are separate, but cooperating entities. The A.C.V.O only provides their professional services and expertise to ensure that uniform standards are upheld for the certification of dog's eyes with the CERF organization.

If your dog is certified to be free of heritable eye disease, you can then send in the completed owner's copy of the CERF form with the appropriate fee

CERF certificae numbers of dogs without permanent identification, in the form of microchip, tattoo or DNA profile, will be appended with an "N"

The above information was obtained from

Next Question... Is CERF Normal Enough to say your breeding stock is "CLEAR" of CEA?

Answer: NO


As sheltie breeders, we should all be familiar with acquiring specific testing prior to using our dogs and bitches in a breeding program.  We do ‘this’ testing to hopefully produce healthy puppies that will also have health clearances.  By testing our breeding stock, we should eliminate or dramatically reduce the occurrence of health issues specific to our breed, the Shetland sheepdog.

Did you know that a ‘CERF Normal’ is not a guarantee that the animal isn’t going to pass the Collie Eye Anomoly (CEA)/Choroidal Hypoplasia (CH) onto its offspring?  The CERF normal only indicates that a specific veterinarian eye specialist saw nothing in the animal’s eyes to indicate that he/she is affected by CEA/CH and/or other eye diseases on that day.   What if you were told that the ‘CERF normal’ animal could be a carrier of CEA/CH?  The genetic testing for CEA/CH is available just as the genetic testing is available for vWD. We do that testing for vWD, hoping for a ‘clear’ animal.  If we have a ‘carrier’ animal for vWD we must then be very specific when choosing a mate and also realize that we could also be producing ‘carriers’ in the offspring from that mating. 

Back to the CEA/CH genetic testing.  Sheltie breeders need to know that a ‘CERF normal’ animal isn’t necessarily free of its ability to produce Collie Eye Anomoly puppies.   Can a CERF normal animal be a carrier…….YES!!!  Can you unknowingly breed your ‘carrier’ to another ‘carrier’ (maybe that dog is CERF normal also but still a carrier) and produce affected puppies……….YES!!  Is there a genetic test to insure that our breeding animals are CEA/CH normal……..YES!!   OptiGen CEA/CH testing is done by Cornell University and will certify your breeding animal as: CEA/CH normal/carrier or affected.  Testing is done on a blood sample.  The test, including your vet drawing a blood sample, shipment to Cornell, and the laboratory procedure, is less than most OFA hip radiographs.

Shouldn’t we be advising and educating breeders to be genetically certain of their breeding animal’s status in regards to its eye health for CEA/CH?  Shouldn’t we be asking those who offer dogs at stud dogs to insure the genetic clearance for CEA/CH?

***********I endorse the genetic CEA/CH testing since I found myself with a ‘CERF normal’ animal that produced a ‘CEA/CH carrier’…………..wondering how that could be possible, I did some reading to realize that we can all test our breeding stock genetically for CEA/CH and be assured of their status…..’normal, carrier or affected.  Can we ask that our dogs offered at stud be tested genetically for a certification in regards to CEA/CH?
Permission granted to forward to any interested party…….
Thanks for listening,
Nancy L. Porta
JANA Shelties
ASSA member



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