The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) was founded as a private, not-for-profit foundation in 1966 by John M. Olin, a well-known inventor, industrialist, philanthropist, conservationist, and sportsman.
Olin was an avid sportsman, hunter, and field trial participant. When hip dysplasia began to impact the performance of Olin’s dogs, he organized an initial meeting with representatives of the veterinary community, the Golden Retriever Club of America, and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America to discuss means of limiting the disease. This ultimately led to the formation and incorporation of the OFA. Its initial mission: To provide radiographic evaluation, data management, and genetic counseling for canine hip dysplasia.
While the OFA continues to focus on hip dysplasia, today’s mission, “To improve the health and well-being of companion animals through a reduction in the incidence of genetic disease,” reflects the organization’s expansion into other inherited diseases and other companion animals such as cats.
The OFA has funded nearly $3 million in research aimed at reducing the incidence and prevalence of inherited companion animal disease. Projects are funded through the AKC Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF), the Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) and occasionally through direct grants.
OFA-supported research is not limited to orthopedic disease and has included cancers, heart disease, and thyroid disease, among others. Research projects vary as to breeds and diseases, and all are done at many of our leading universities and research institutions.
With the recent completion of the mapping of the canine genome, the OFA is focusing more of its research dollars towards research at the molecular level. For details regarding the research we’ve funded, view our Research History.
The OFA Databases and DNA Repository
The OFA databases are central to the organization’s objective of establishing control programs to lower the incidence of inherited disease. They serve all breeds of dogs and cats, and provide breeders a means to respond to the challenge of improving the genetic health of their breed through better breeding practices. The OFA databases are expanded as more tests become available.
The CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) database is a tool that collects health information on individual animals from multiple sources. This centralized pool of data is maintained to assist breeders in making more informed breeding choices, and for scientists in conducting research. The CHIC program is breed-specific. In order to be in this database, a dog must be CHIC Certified. Read more about the CHIC Certification program.
The CHIC DNA Repository collects and stores canine DNA samples along with corresponding genealogical and phenotypic information to facilitate future research and testing aimed at reducing the incidence of inherited disease in dogs. Read more about the DNA Repository.
Separate from the DNA Repository, the OFA offers DNA-based disease testing through an exclusive license arrangement with the University of Missouri. All tests offered, as well as information about kits, etc. are on the DNA Test page.