|Photos on this page are of our first German Shepherd Dog.
He suffered from crippling Hip Dysplasia until the age of 7
when we were forced to humanely euthanize him.....
(We suspected he had poor hips at 9 weeks old)
ALL of his ancestors for 10 GENERATIONS had OFA Good or
It is because of our Beautiful Boy that we are working so hard
to learn about the true causes of this condition.
|Hip X-Rays ... not as simple as it sounds...
There are two problems that occur in getting hip X-rays taken.
1. Positioning of the dog - Bad positioning can make a dog with excellent hips
appear to have poor hips.
Read this breeder experience with poor positioning! Her dog went from
"mildly displastic" to OFA Good!!! http://www.takuaussies.com/hips.htm
Leerburg Kennels wrote a very informative article about hip positioning which
includes X-ray images. CLICK this link
2. Reading of the X-Rays
Reading hip x-rays is not a scientific field but subjective. Vets do not know
with absolute certainty what they are seeing when they look at hip x-rays. If
they see the gap between the femur head and socket and the shape of the
head and hairline cracks in the bone but they don't know the significance of
any of that. They can't tell whether there has been trauma in the area.
| Looking at the wrong cause
German Shepherd breeders in Germany have spent a lot of time and money trying to
find the root cause of hip dysplasia. Although the German Shepherd Dog DOES
NOT have the greatest rate of Dysplasia of all the dog breeds, (The Bulldog is the
worst) it is one of the few breeds still functioning in a working capacity (law
enforcement, Search and Rescue, Sheep herding, or protection sports). Working
dogs must have good functional structure.
Helmut Raiser, the new breed warden for Germany's S.V, (the German Shepherd
Dog Club of Germany) says that after 40 years of x-raying hips their dogs are more
unhealthy than ever because they have been looking at the wrong thing.
What has been causing the problem is the bent spine that has caused the spinal
chord to narrow and pinch nerves. (Spondylosis and Cauda Equina.) The friction
against the nerve sheaths causes pain which Helmut believes is responsible for the
frantic 'drive' that has been selected for, and also the reason why many German
Shepherds are reluctant to sit (he says it's like sitting on nails). As the nerve
sheaths are worn away the back leg muscles waste away until the nerves stop
functioning completely and the dog becomes paralyzed. He says that the problem
has become much worse.
"10 years ago dogs were breaking down at 4 years old, nowadays they break down
at 2 years old." He is so despondent about the German Shepherd Dog's health that
he's considering crossing them with the Malinois (Belgian Shepherds). He says "...the
Malinois people are smart. They don't x-ray. They don't need to. If a dog can jump
a 2.2 metre wall at 10 years old, you don't need an x-ray."
Breeders should select for performance. If a dog shows poor health he should not
|1- Keep your dog thin - when I say thin I mean you need to see a definition between the ribs and
loins of your dog. I cannot stress this enough. The more weight a dog carries the more pressure on
the hips. This is extremely important when the dog is growing (between 8 weeks and 18 months)
2- Do not over exercise your young dog. DO NOT TAKE A PUPPY JOGGING !!! Not until its older
than one year of age. Over exercise is the fastest way to destroy hips.
3- Feed a quality all-natural diet. If you don’t want to feed a raw diet at least feed it an all-
natural commercial diet. We have fed this for years and feel that it's the best we can find.
We stress the diet with our puppy families and it has made a huge difference
4- If you have a question about subluxation in a young dog - SWIM the dog!! Take the dog
swimming every day for 3 or 4 months before you have x-rays taken. Swimming is the best
exercise you can do for a dog. It is way better than jogging the dog. When you stop and think that
subluxation means the head of the femur is loose in the socket - does it not make sense to exercise
the dog so the muscles and ligaments tighten up the dog as much as possible.
5- We give our dogs 99% Glucosamine supplements
Growing dogs, usually in their first year, often limp and have what vets coin as 'growing pains'. We
believe that these pains are in the muscles and are caused by faulty nutrition (unless of course the
limp is due to an injury or sore foot- pads). Giving them bone shavings, liver, vitamine C, vitamine E
and micro-organisms to improve intestinal flora (such as live cultures or raw dirty tripe), in
addition to their basic diet, rectifies these pains within about 3 weeks.
|Over-feeding causing Hip Dysplasia
There was a very good long term study done on the effects of overfeeding in dogs as it relates to HD.
To cancel out the effects of genetics and focus just on food intake, they randomly divided Lab pups from
several litters into two groups. One group (the ad libitum-fed control group) was allowed to eat as much as
they wanted, while the other group (the limit-fed group) was fed 25% less than the first group.
They were all fed the same thing. The dogs were followed from 8 weeks of age until they died.
Here's some excerpts from the 4 reports that were published in the Journal of the American Veterinary
"Using the OFA method, 7 of the 24 limit-fed dogs and 16 of the 24 ad libitum-fed dogs were diagnosed as
having hip dysplasia. Similarly, using the Swedish method, 5 of the 24 limit-fed dogs and 18 of the 24 ad
libitum-fed dogs were diagnosed as having hip dysplasia. "
"Radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis that affected multiple joints was significantly more common in the
control-fed group than in the limit-fed group. Prevalence of lesions in the hip joint was 15/22 in the control-
fed group and 3/21 in the limit-fed group. Prevalence of lesions in the shoulder joint was 19/22 in the control-
fed group and 12/21 in the limit-fed group; lesions in this joint were generally mild. Severity, but not
prevalence, of osteoarthritis in the elbow joint was greater in the control-fed group than in the limit-fed
"food-restricted dogs weighed less and had lower body fat content and lower serum triglycerides,
triiodothyronine, insulin, and glucose concentrations. Median life span was significantly longer for dogs in which
food was restricted. The onset of clinical signs of chronic disease generally was delayed for food-restricted
There is NO QUESTION that over feeding is a major factor in HD - the above post addresses this - what it
does not address is how a quality all-natural diet in limit-fed dogs improves orthopedics’ AND how over
exercise at a young age increases HD.
For years people wrongly laid the blame of HD on genetics and breeders. As this information comes out it will
improve our dogs because people will step to the line and raise their pups in a healthier manner.
|What you can do to prevent bad hips -
The SV in Germany (the German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany) has proven genetics is
only responsible for about 25% of the bad hips in dogs.
This means that 70% to 75% of the bad hips are caused by environmental issues.
Here are things that help:
|An Examination of Hip Grading (Source: http://www.offa.org/hd_grades.html)
Good: slightly less than superior but a well-formed
congruent hip joint is visualized. The ball fits well into the
socket and good coverage is present.
this classification is assigned for superior conformation in
comparison to other animals of the same age and breed.
There is a deep seated ball (femoral head) which fits tightly
into a well-formed socket (acetabulum) with minimal joint
space. There is almost complete coverage of the socket over
Fair: Assigned where minor irregularities in the hip joint exist.
The hip joint is wider than a good hip phenotype. This is due to
the ball slightly slipping out of the socket causing a minor
degree of joint incongruency. There may also be slight inward
deviation of the weight-bearing surface of the socket (dorsal
acetabular rim) causing the socket to appear slightly shallow.
This can be a normal finding in some breeds however, such as
the Chinese Shar Pei, Chow Chow, and Poodle.
|What do OFA hip ratings mean?
|There are more ratings by the OFA (Please refer to their website)
But we only breed dogs with Excellent, Good and Fair ratings - The 3 normal gradings.
The set up of the X-Ray is crucial- especially with dogs with long hind legs (lots of rear angulation). These dogs
tend to get Fair evaluations from the OFA - especially when the X-rays are poorly set up.
Females should NOT be X-rayed within a month of their heat! Their hips relax significantly just before breeding
and remain lax for a couple of months after birth. (This change is even notable in the gait of many females in heat!)
Some female dogs show subluxation when radiographed around an estrus cycle which is not apparent when
re-radiographed in anestrus. The OFA recommends radiographing 3-4 weeks before or after a heat period or 3-5
weeks after weaning a litter of pups (Source: offa.org)
Joint laxity can be changed in a dog. A well muscled dog (through exercise and good genetics) have less lax hips
even when sedated! Swimming a dog and moderate exercise on varied terrain helps develop stabilizer muscles.
X-rays should always be considered with care.
If there is no reason to X-Rays...... Don't...... Especially with a breeding dog.
X-rays affect any rapidly dividing cell, so cells that produce sperm are quite sensitive to radiation damage. Cells
exposed to significant levels of radiation may take up to two years to resume normal sperm production, and, in
severe circumstances, may never recover.
For human females it is suggested females wait 3 months (or 3 'heat cycles') before getting pregnant after
radiation or x-ray exposure to their ovaries. For a dog that would mean waiting for 1.5 - 2 years if they only have a
heat every 6 months!
For these reasons we do not x-ray all of our dogs! If the dog has a strong family history of healthy strong hips and
the parent has strong movement with tight hips. X-Rays may be unnecessary and could harm the reproductive
organs and result in issues with the offspring!
It has become a trend among breeders to perform X-Rays on all dogs regardless of the need!
Veterinarian studies have clearly stated that congenital hip displasia is rare in Miniature Poodles:
"Dogs less than 30.5 cm in height and less than 11.3 kg (25 pound) in body weight rarely develop hip dysplasia."
"In our experience hip dysplasia in the miniature poodle is uncommon"
(source: A Clinical Note: Congenital Hip Dysplasia in a Miniature Poodle by Gerry B. Schnelle)
Miniature poodles do, however, can have knee issues (Patellar Luxation)- which any vet can diagnose.