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Hip Dysplasia

What is is, how to test for it, how to breed around it

As of 3/29/23 here are the OFA statistics for Rottweilers
Breed   Rank Evaluations Normal Excellent Equivocal Abnormal
ROTTWEILER 41 106,054 81,392-76.7% 9,283-8.8% 2,190-2.1% 22,470-21.2%
       Details- click image for full size

What is hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is when the hip joint is not developed properly or is damaged through severe injury, causing poor fit between the ball and socket.
This poor fit can cause lameness, pain and even complete lack of functionality.
Here are two websites with great explanations for you

Here are three female rottweilers. Two are OFA certified excellent and one is severely dysplastic (had hip replacement surgery later in fact)

bonnie ofa excellent  Itsy OFA excellent   18 month old severe hip dysplasia

How To Test For Hip Dysplasia

There are two main group performing hip evaluations in the USA

 Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
Animals can have certification evaluations done at 2 years and older, or preliminary evaluations done at under 2 years.
Each submitted film is evaluated by three board certified radiologists.
Each radiologist evaluates the animal’s hip status considering the breed, sex, and age.
There are approximately 9 different anatomic areas of the hip that are evaluated.
If the dog has had a preliminary x ray done at a younger age, then the current film is compared to that as well.
Sedation type and level are also considerations.
The dogs rating is a consensus of the three radiologists.
The OFA has a searchable database that can be utilized to research pedigrees and bloodlines and is a vital piece of research before breeding.

Here is an example of a screen shot of an OFA database page for a Rottweiler
click for fullsize

Animals can have PennHip evaluations done at any age. The vets who take PennHip xrays must be PennHip certified
Three sets of films are taken and the animals must be sedated. One set is legs extended just like OFA, one is compression view where hips are fully pushed into sockets and the other is the distraction set where a positioning device is used to provide some leverage to see the hips laxity.
PennHip results can be sent to OFA for inclusion into OFA's database as PennHip does not provide a searchable database.
The PennHip Distraction index (DI) is a good tool, but the lack of searchable database makes it less useful for breeders doing research unless the dog is also added into the OFA database.
Here is an example of a PennHip report for a Rottweiler
click for full size

I'll note that I believe in sedated x rays. I want the most accurate x ray of my dogs skeletal fit. I do not want it artificially influenced by muscle tension in an awake dog. I want the most accurate rating not the best rating.

How To Breed AWAY From Hip Dysplasia

You MUST be willing to do a lot of research.
To make headway you must be able to determine the hip ratings for as many relatives of the dog you are breeding AND the dog you are breeding to as possible. This means siblings, parents, grandparents, great grandparents etc PLUS Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Half Siblings etc.
The more animals you can get info on the more you know about what the family lines carry.

Hip Dysplasia is at this date, not yet able to be tested for via DNA (although University of Missouri is on stage 2 of a promising study- stage 1 results here)
While at this time not much is known as to if Hip Dysplasia is a recession or dominant or poly genetic, what IS known is that it is variable expression.
What Variable Expression means is that you can have 4 dogs with the HD gene and they all might look very different on x ray. A high expression dog might have horrific hips, a low expression dog might actually certify with a fair or good and the other two might be in between.
You cannot prevent a dog with HD gene from having the heritable disease, but you can manage weight, diet, exercise and environment to allow the least expression of HD possible.
Remember, barring bad accident, you cannot cause a dog without HD gene to have hip dysplasia.
However, since we have no way of knowing which puppies are affected, by raising every pup to reduce expression as much as possible is the best practice.
Proper whelping box footing, proper diets (feed quality food, avoiding diets more than 4g calcium/ 1000 calories and avoiding the animal being overweight), age appropriate exercise, maintaining physical fitness, etc... are VITAL.

This is why knowing as much about the family as you can.
An OFA excellent dog from a family of Fair or failing hips is a FAR less desirable breeding prospect than an OFA fair out of a family of all OFA good and excellent hips. The family status tells you what you are up against. Try to choose families with either all passing dogs or high percentage of good/excellent and very very low incidence of fair or mild.  Families with moderate or severe family members are going to present a much tougher challenge.

Keep good records
Get as many puppies that you produce evaluated as possible. Yes, even those sold as pets.
Without this information you will not be successful in breeding away from Hip Dysplasia

It can be done. It's a LOT of work but it can be done!



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Last updated 6/21/23
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