Hip dysplasia, an abnormal formation of the hip joint, occurs in many mammals. It is a serious medical problem for both humans and dogs, although it is far more prevalent in dogs.
In contrast to a one percent incidence in humans, canine hip dysplasia can occur in 50 percent or more of some of the larger breeds of dogs. Unlike human hip dysplasia, the canine condition is not detectable at birth, although it can be identified within the first year of life. It affects dogs and bitches nearly equally. The information here is intended to familiarize dog owners with some of the characteristics of hip dysplasia. A veterinarian should be consulted for specific advice.
What breeds are affected?Hip dysplasia is prevalent in the large breeds of dogs. It is particularly common in breeds such as the Bernese Mountain Dog, Bloodhound, Boxer, Brittany Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, Golden Retriever, Gordon Setter, German Shepherd Dog, Labrador Retriever, Old English Sheepdog, Standard Poodle, Rottweiler, St. Bernard, Welsh Springer Spaniel, and Welsh Corgi.* Mixed breeds are also subject to hip dysplasia. Not even the toy breeds are spared, although frequency is lower in small dogs. Large dogs that have a relatively low incidence of hip dysplasia include the Borzoi, Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, Greyhound, Irish Wolfhound, and Siberian Husky.
What are the signs of hip dysplasia?Hip dysplasia usually begins to manifest itself through decreased activity with varying degrees of joint pain. Often these signs are first observed between the ages of four months and one year. Young dogs may have a swaying and unsteady gait. They may draw their hind legs forward, placing more weight on their forelimbs. Afflicted dogs often run with both hind legs moving together in a gait that has been described as “bunny hopping.”