What is hip dysplacia?

Hip dysplacia is a term many dog owners will have heard of, especially if they have considered dog breeds such as an Alsatian or German Shepherd and it is mentioned in many dog breed profiles, but what exactly is it?

Hip dysplacia is an abnormal development of the hip joint and can exist with or without showing clinical symptoms so it is important when considering breeding your bitch or stud dog that you consider whether or not your dog breed is susceptible to this condition and get your dog tested.  When purchasing a puppy, be sure to ask the breeder to see the results of these tests.

If a dog suffers from this condition, the dog may be lame in one or both limbs.  With hip dysplacia, the cup of the hip joint is shallow and the ball of the hip joint is a different shape.  As a result of this, severe arthritis can develop and can put the dog in great pain.  When young, the dog might show his pain during or following a growth spurt and may not yet exhibit arthritic symptoms.  The pain may then go into remission for several years and return when the dog is older and the arthritis is more obvious then.

At birth, the hips may appear to be normal and the disease might only develop later on.  Hip dysplacia is thought to be inherited but it is difficult to gauge the degree of hip dysplacia and it is believed that growth and weight gain play a part during the life of the dog.

If any signs of hip dysplacia are noted, such as decreased activity levels, a strange walk, difficulty walking when getting up or any sign of lameness, it is important to seek the advice of a vet straight away.

Hip dysplacia is a condition that severely inhibits the quality of life for a dog and with proper testing could be bred out, so it is important that hip dysplacia tests are done where required and no stud dog or bitch should be used who has a history of hip dysplacia in their pedigree.