Responsible Breeder References

A responsible breeding program starts with health testing and honesty about conditions for which there are no tests.

Here are the CHIC requirements for Irish setters:

It is also important to have a great relationship with your veterinarian, for they are your partner in whelping and raising healthy puppies.

The resources on this page are meant to provide information on many aspects of breeding.   Becoming educated about health and breeding challenges is an important foundation to have before considering breeding a litter (or siring a litter). 

Finding a veterinarian who will be supportive of your breeding program is important.  There are veterinarians that specialize in reproduction.  Not all of them are board certified theriogenologists.  Many are vets who are breeders themselves, or have taken the time to get continuing education about breeding management practices.

Before you think about breeding your bitch, it is important to be sure that there is a support system of veterinary care available to you for the breeding and most importantly during the whelping.

While no one likes to think of the negative risks of breeding, it does carry a risk that the bitch could die while whelping or after whelping.   You have to do soul searching to be sure that you are willing to risk the life of your dog as part of breeding. It has often been said that breeding is not for the faint of heart.

You also need to consider whether you are able to properly monitor and raise a potentially huge litter of puppies, and find responsible homes for all of them.

You need to ask yourself whether or not you would be able to raise orphan puppies if for some reason their mother dies or can’t take care of them due to complications after whelping.  As an ISCA member, you must be willing to take back your puppies at any time for any reason in their lives if the people who purchase them no longer want them.

Here are links from AKC:

Progesterone Testing – When to do it and how often? – American Kennel Club

Another good overview from Purina:

Using Progesterone Testing To Determine The Right Time To Breed

Every stud dog and every brood bitch should have a brucellosis test before breeding. 

Every dog that is adopted from a shelter or through a rescue should be tested negative for brucellosis before coming in contact with your family and your other pets.

For complete information about this zoonotic disease (a disease that can be spread from dog to humans):

ISCA encourages our members to register their dog’s health testing results with OFA.

Getting a CHIC number does NOT indicate that the dog has cleared all the health clearances required.    It does mean that the dog’s owners are honest about revealing results, whatever they are.

The days of hiding results need to be left behind.   It is only by being honest and open about our dogs that we can go forward, assuring results are used in a scientific manner allowing for genetic diversity in our breed.

What is CHIC?


What tests does ISCA require for CHIC certification?

IRISH Setter

OFA-CHIC Health Testing Requirements

The OFA, working with the breed’s parent club, recommends the following basic health screening tests for all breeding stock. Dogs meeting these basic health screening requirements will be issued Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) numbers. For CHIC certification, all results do not need to be normal, but they must all be in the public domain so that responsible breeders can make more informed breeding decisions. For potential puppy buyers, CHIC certification is a good indicator the breeder responsibly factors good health into their selection criteria. The breed specific list below represents the basic health screening recommendations. It is not all encompassing. There may be other health screening tests appropriate for this breed. And, there may be other health concerns for which there is no commonly accepted screening protocol available.


In addition to the breed specific requirements above, a CHIC requirement across all participating breeds is that the dog must be permanently identified via microchip or tattoo in order to qualify for a CHIC number.

CHIC numbers generate automatically within 1 to 2 weeks after all the required test results have been registered with the OFA.

For dogs residing outside the US or Canada, owners may submit their country’s equivalent health screening results for listing on the OFA website. These requests are reviewed on a case by case basis and fees apply. Once these results have been recorded with the OFA, owners may request CHIC numbers if they’ve met all the CHIC requirements through regular registrations or international equivalents. These requests are handled on a case by case basis.


VetVine webinars

The AKC Canine Health Foundation and VetVine have teamed up to offer a series of live webinars on canine health topics. These webinars feature leaders in the field of veterinary health research and offer practical advice on common health concerns, as well as information on cutting-edge research to benefit all dogs. Each webinar is also recorded and can be watched on demand from a computer or mobile device. View webinar topics and schedule here.

Canine College webinars

The AKC Canine College offers updated webinars on canine breeding topics, including the Canine Breeder Excellence Seminar Series.

Zoetis Reproduction Podcast Series

The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) and our corporate alliance, Zoetis, have joined forces to bring you a podcast series devoted to canine reproduction education for pet owners, breeders, and veterinarians.

Help Future Generations of Dogs

Participate in canine health research by providing samples or by enrolling in a clinical trial. Samples are needed from healthy dogs and dogs affected by specific diseases.

Learn How to Help

Review of the Current State of Genetic Testing

The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) and Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) have collaborated to provide a Review of the Current State of Genetic Testing in dogs. This downloadable resource reviews the basic principles necessary to practically and thoughtfully apply genetic test results to the care of all dogs, including breeding stock. The types of genetic tests currently in use, their application in breeding programs, and their limitations will be discussed, as well as potential negative effects of the misuse of test results in both pet and breeding dogs.

Canine Health Information Center (CHIC)

CHIC is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). CHIC, working with participating parent clubs, provides a resource for breeders and owners of purebred dogs to research and maintain information on the health issues prevalent in specific breeds.

Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs

CHF collaborates with the International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD) on the Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD) Initiative, a free online resource designed to support owners, breeders, veterinarians, and dog health and welfare specialists in the appropriate selection and use of DNA testing in dogs. The HGTD interface is hosted at

Read Dr. Jerold Bell’s white paper “Understanding Breeds as Populations”
Read Dr. Jerold Bell’s article “Genetic Diversity”
Watch Dr. Jerold Bell’s National Specialty Seminar

Or the ISCA Foundation has the 2018 Seminar by Dr. Bell available on DVD!  Click to go to the Foundation Page!

Watch the National Specialty Seminar – Dr. Laurie Larson, UW Madison School of Vet Medicine

Dr. Larson’s accompanying Power Point Presentation (In PDF form)

For complete information about what nomographs are and how you can have one done if your bitch is pregnant:

If you just need the form to have a nomograph done on your bitch at the University of Wisconsin, here is the link:

When sending the blood sample to University of Wisconsin for a nomograph, you do not have to send on ice over 24 hours.  The most efficient way is sending via United States Postal service in a 2 day priority box, which should cost about $9.

Watch the National Specialty Seminar – Ronald D. Schultz, PhD
Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin – Madison

For excellent information on what titer testing is and how to have it done at the University of Wisconsin