Hip dysplasia may be familiar to pet parents of large dogs. Since there is a genetic influence in developing hip dysplasia, it is perhaps understandable that some dog breeds are more prone to hip dysplasia than others. The quality of life of dogs with this painful condition can be drastically reduced. Severe cases can affect their normal daily activities. Here are the 10 dog breeds prone to hip dysplasia. If your dog is on the list, you should know about hip dysplasia in dogs, including the symptoms, treatment options, and preventative measures you can take to reduce its impact on your dog’s health, comfort, and longevity.
Hip Dysplasia: What Exactly Is It?
The hip is a ball and socket joint. The ball that makes the top of a dog’s femur bone sits within a cup formed by part of the pelvis bone to create the hip joint. In some dogs, due to abnormal bone development or trauma, the joint does not fit together properly. This is known as hip dysplasia. What develops over time is pain from the osteoarthritis caused by a poorly fitted hip joint.
Dog Breeds Prone to Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is heritable, meaning there is a genetic basis in both likelihood and severity of the disease. Here are the dog breeds that most often develop this disease.
German Shepherd dogs have a high prevalence of hip dysplasia as well as a genetic problem with the nerves leading to their hindlimbs (degenerative myelopathy).
Corgis are a chondrodysplastic breed, meaning that they have an abnormal body shape (long body and short legs). This body shape puts extra strain on all of the weight-bearing joints so that even mild hip dysplasia can lead to severe osteoarthritis and difficulty with normal daily activities.
Labrador and Golden Retrievers
Both Labrador and Golden Retrievers have strong genetic risks for hip dysplasia and are prone to weight gain. Studies show that being overweight worsens hip dysplasia symptoms including pain, reluctance to exercise, and difficulty getting up.
English and French Bulldogs
Brachycephalic, or short-faced, dogs (like English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs) often have poorly fitting joints including the elbow, knee, and hip.
Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Mastiffs
Giant dogs have special needs during their growth and development stages in order to have healthy, strong bones and joints. Large breed puppies need the right kinds of exercise at the right time and the right nutritional balance during growth.
Why Are Some Dog Breeds Prone to Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is hereditary and is especially common in larger dogs. The following factors can magnify this genetic predisposition:
- Excessive growth rate·High-intensity exercise
- Improper weight·Unbalanced or improper nutrition
Tips for Protecting Your Dog’s Hips and Joints
While you can’t prevent your dog from developing hip dysplasia, you can take steps to protect their joints and relieve their pain.
Keep your dog at a healthy weight.
A healthy weight protects your dog’s hips and joints and reduces the excess stress the body puts on the joints. So you need to provide your dog with enough exercise and a healthy diet. Low impact exercise such as leash walking and swimming are excellent options for most dogs. This can reduce the risk of injury.
Try incorporating hip and joint supplements.
In most cases, once joint damage starts it can be slowed but not reversed. When used early, joint supplements—such as fish oils or supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin—can reduce inflammation and be helpful in slowing joint damage and reducing pain.
In severe cases, ask if surgery is an option.
Surgical repair of abnormal and painful hips in dogs is only available in the most severe cases. Some dogs may benefit from a femoral head osteotomy where the bony junction of the joint is eliminated leaving only the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to act as the joint. This is more likely to be an option for small and medium-sized dogs.
Consider physical therapy for your dog.
Physical therapy is becoming more widely available for dogs and can really help maintain your dog’s activity and comfort. It comes in many forms, like:
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