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Hip Dysplasia in German Sherpherds

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Hip Dysplasia is a hereditary disease. Please note: ALL large dogs are susceptible. This disease in NOT common or found only in just German Shepherds; it is common and found in all large to giant size dogs. German Shepherds are #38 on the list of breeds with Hip Dysplasia. Smaller dogs are less likely to get Hip Dysplasia, but they too, as well as humans can suffer from this disease. Hip Dysplasia is where the leg bone does not quite fit into the corresponding socket bone causing arthritis in the joints.

Hip Dysplasia affects 1 out of 5 German Shepherds in America. This genetic disease can appear at any age, but most often develops at middle to late years in life. The disease is passed down through a specific bloodline of dogs. Two parents who have loose hips (Hip Dysplasia) MAY result in puppies having Hip Dysplasia. However, the puppies may not show signs of Hip Dysplasia but will be carriers to the disease which will show up in later generations. Not all German Shepherds with Hip Dysplasia will suffer or show symptoms.

Breeders stating that their German Shepherds are free from Hip Dysplasia cannot, in reality, guarantee this. Breeding German Shepherds who are Hip Dysplasia free puts the offspring in good favor of not developing Hip Dysplasia. The United States has a 1 out of 5 statistic, meaning that 20% of all German Shepherds bred in America will have Hip Dysplasia. However, this is not a completely accurate statistic because breeders in America are not required to have their German Shepherds "Hip Certified" by the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Columbia, MO). Also, not all veterinarians turn in x-rays regarding a German Shepherd's hips to the OFA. (To properly diagnose Hip Dysplasia the x-ray must be correctly positioned.) The vet can diagnose the hips from their x-rays, but not turn in any results to the OFA. So the statistics for Hip Dysplasia in America can be anywhere between 30-50%. Comparatively, Germany has a mandatory Hip Dysplasia x-ray submission. In Germany, no German Shepherd can be put in a show or bred without being "Hip Certified". Because of this mandate German, German Shepherds have a 7% statistic of Hip Dysplasia. Having more German bred German Shepherds in a German Shepherd's lineage will decrease the chances of the offspring developing Hip Dysplasia.

SYMPTOMS:

  • drop in energy level
  • difficulty in standing or moving
  • lameness in back legs
  • will stop using stairs
  • not want to stand on back legs or jump up
  • will start 'bunny hopping' with back legs when walking
  • run with an altered gait
  • resists full extensions of rear legs

GRADES:

Mild Will mostly go through entire life without noticeable evidence of Hip Dysplasia.

Moderate Show some discomfort and some arthritis pain earlier in life when they are older. Many show no discomfort till late in life.

Severe Puppies as young as 5 months will show pain and discomfort during and after exercise. Condition will continue to worsen.

If arthritic discomfort is in only one hip, it can be, but not usually, Hip Dysplasia, just a trama from puppy life during growing stage.

Other factors that can bring on Hip Dysplasia besides the German Shepherd's lineage or even in addition to genetic susceptibility is obesity and excessive proteins, vitamins and minerals in food to increase puppy growth. Do not grow your German Shepherd puppies too fast.

TREATMENT:

  • Several types of surgeries.
  • Weight management. Do not try to have the biggest, heaviest German Shepherd.
  • Exercise in steady moderation. Walking, swimming or slow jogging on a daily basis.
  • Oral supplements. Glucosamine and Chondroitin which heal the damage and produce new cartilage in joints.
  • Several holistic supplements. Found all over the internet.
  • Several types of pain killers.

PREVENTION:

If you have a "Hip Certified" German Shepherd, please help keep him that way. Besides selective breeding, take these precautions during the first full year of your puppy's life:

  • DO carry your puppy up the stairs.
  • DO NOT play hard with puppy.
  • NO ball play of running, stopping quickly, getting the ball and bringing it back to you.
  • DO NOT let him stand on his back legs.
  • DO NOT over exercise.
  • Mind children to not play hard with puppy to cause any injury to hind legs.
  • Leashed short walks only.
  • Try to prevent any chance of slipping of wet ground or linoleum floors.
  • Try to prevent ANY type of injury to the back legs.
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