Hip and elbow dysplasia are developmental, multifactorial, genetically influenced conditions that are characterized by ill-fitting or loosely-fitting joints with resultant secondary degenerative joint disease (arthrosis). The word dysplasia is derived from the Greek “dys” meaning abnormal and “plassein” meaning to form. As hip and elbow dysplasia are developmental diseases, they only manifest radiologically after a few months and are thus not present at birth. There is no doubt about the fact that the tendency to develop hip or elbow dysplasia is inherited but environmental factors like excessive protein intake and excessive strenuous exercise at a very young age play a role in the degree of dysplasia that is eventually manifested.
The end result of hip and elbow dysplasia are varying degrees of lameness which may present from about 6 months of age or older and some dogs only show clinical signs in later life. When buying a pup you should minimize the chances of the pup developing hip and/or elbow dysplasia by ensuring that the dam and sire have been tested for hip and elbow dysplasia by means of radiographic (x-ray) screening. Dogs older that 12 months (18 months for some larger breeds) can be certified by a veterinary radiologist as to the degree of hip dysplasia (graded A-E) and elbow dysplasia (graded 0-3) that is present. These gradings are done according to the FCI and International Elbow Working Group guidelines. Your veterinarian can take the radiographs and submit them to us for grading. You will then receive an international grading certificate. It is important to realise that a clear certificate only implies that the dog is phenotypically normal and that he or she could still have a positive genotype (i.e. be a carrier).
Moderate hip dysplasia
Severe hip dysplasia