Hip Dysplasia

X-ray of healthy hip joints.
  • Description

Large breed dogs, particularly German Shepherds, are susceptible to Canine Hip Dysplasia.

Hip Dysplasia is a common degenerative joint disease caused by an an abnormal formation of the hip joint.

The hip consists of a ball and socket joint. The femur head is the ball and should fit nicely into the socket which is called the acetabulum. If there is not a snug fit, the joint is abnormal.

No two dogs will experience hip dysplasia in the same fashion. There are infinite variations, ranging from very slight looseness to complete dislocation.

What Causes Hip Dysplasia in German Shepherds?
If either parent has hip dysplasia or carries the genes for it, than it is likely to be passed on to their offspring. Another great reason to avoid puppy farms and only visit reputable breeders.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in German Shepherds

  • Difficulty rising or climbing inclines
  • Hip soreness
  • Limping
  • Muscle atrophy on the rump

German Shepherd hip dysplasia signs may become evident between 5 and 8 months. But, some dogs will not show any signs until they are mature adults.

Other canine hip dysplasia symptoms:

  • A young dog may run with its back legs in sync, almost like a bunny hop.
  • Decreased range of motion may be noticed as the pup will be unable to extend their leg backward very far.
  • The pup will hesitate to jump and will not want to "stand up" on its rear legs.
  • After exercise, the puppy will be reluctant to get up and may sit back as if unsteady.
  • While standing, the rear legs may not appear parallel, and they may have a "cow hocked" look where the ankles stand too close together.
  • You may notice a slight underdevelopment or boniness in the rump area. This is from a lack of good muscle development.

Severely dysplastic dogs will attempt to support more weight on their front legs by rocking forward. This can create issues in the elbows and shoulder. They may appear to be tip-toeing and walking lightly on their hind legs.

How is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs Diagnosed?
The only way to know for sure if your dog has hip dysplasia is to have it x-rayed. This is typically done under anaesthetic. While sedated, the dog is completely relaxed and it allows the vet to manipulate the hips to feel any degree of looseness.

Treatment for hip Dysplasia
There are surgical procedures available including a total hip replacement. They can be expensive, but some have shown good results.

Good nutrition and reasonable exercise is also very important to keep your dog from becoming overweight. Excess weight will put more stress on their hips.

If your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia there are many good supplements available that may help.