Which Breeds Are Most Prone to Hip Displasia?


Usually, large breeds of dogs are more prone to hip dysphasia. Labradors, Great Pyrenees, Great Danes, Retrievers, German Shepherds, Saint Bernards, Rottweilers and Sporting Dog Breeds are examples. However, small dogs can also acquire this.

If your dogs belong to any of the mentioned breeds, the following information might help you.

What is Hip Displasia?

Hip Displasia, a degenerative condition, is an abnormality in the expansion of the hip joint, where the ball joint of the dogs hips are misshapen, caused by too much laxity in the joint. This in turn results to wear and tear of the abnormal arthritic bones causing extreme pain.

Not only can this cause pain, the joint can also come right out of the socket.

How did my dog acquire this?

Hip displasia is a genetic disease, meaning the pup can inherit it from its parents. Note that not all dogs inclined to get this disease will acquire it. Other factors also contribute, like environmental factors, rapid weight changes and other genetic factors as well.

Tracing your pet’s family lineage will help you determine if your dog is prone to this disease. If there is no incidence of hip displasia in your pet’s family, then your dog will not get it.

What are its symptoms?

It is difficult to diagnose because it may or may not show clinical signs. Common signs exhibited are lameness on one or both rear limbs, difficulty in standing or walking, hopping like a bunny, and decrease in mobility. After the joint’s growth period, many pups display pain sporadically even before arthritis begins to exhibit. It can lead to severe arthritis, in which your pet can be in extreme pain. Rarely, puppies as young as 5 or 6 months can show these symptoms.

What is the treatment?

If you suspect your dog has hip displasia, bring to the clinic and have your pet X-rayed. There are two methods to see if your dog has hip displasia – the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) testing uses a standard view and another developed by the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHip), which shows to be more effective in detecting Hip Disphasia in puppies.

There are two treatment plans based on the time the disease has occurred – before and after the growth of the hip joint. Triple Pelvic Osteotomy, the surgical reconstruction of the hip joint, is recommended for puppies less than a year of age. Be careful though – clinical symptoms related to hip dyspasia can be caused by other illnesses such as osteochondrosis, strain or sprain in one of the joints, or back and pelvis injury.

However, dogs that show symptoms after the growth, it is best to first find out of it can be treated through medication or surgery. Medical treatment includes aspirin, phenylbutazone or glycosaminoglycosans. Narcotics can be used to eliminate pain. There is a strong connection between the administration of glycosaminoglycans and a considerable decrease in the dog’s arthritis.

Although non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications can be used, different dogs have varying reactions to medicines. That’s why it is best to consult your veterinarian on which medicine works well for your dog. If this proves to be unsatisfactory, you may resort to surgery.

Total Hip Replacement is most excellent, especially for severe hip displasia. This is very effective because the hip joint is replaced with artificial parts to eradicate pain. Femoral Head Ostectomy or Femoral head and neck excision is also an option wherein just the femoral head is removed, which can be performed at any age. It eliminates most of the pain associated with hip arthritis because there is a reduced contact between the bones, but not all dogs are cut out for this method.

Surgery is more costly primarily, but in the long run, it will save the dog owner on pain relievers. Once the surgery has completed, a recuperation period of about 3-6 months will be commended by the doctor.

Any more advice?

This illness is very painful for your pet. Thus, measures should be taken to alleviate pain such as medication and giving them a warm and comfortable place to rest in, especially for older dogs. Regular walks and physical exercises can reduce weight, which can decrease the dog’s discomfort. For young pups, gradual introduction of adult dog food is recommended for gradual gain weight. 

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.