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Dog Breeds At Most Risk of Hip Dysplasia

by Amber LaRock February 10, 2021 5 min read

Dogs most exposed to hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a painful condition that can severely impact a dog’s life. While any dog can fall victim to hip dysplasia, there are some breeds that are more at risk. So which breeds are most likely to develop this degenerative joint condition?

What Is Hip Dysplasia In Dogs?

Let's start with a short recap of what is hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a degenerative joint condition in dogs that is classified by the irregular formation of the hip joint. In a dog free of hip dysplasia, their hips are made of ball and socket joints that glide freely with each movement. When a dog has hip dysplasia, the irregular formation of the hip joint does not allow the joint to glide with ease as it should.

The abnormal formation of the hip joint causes the hip to rub and grind, leading to discomfort for the canine affected. Not only can this condition be extremely painful for a dog, but it can lead to serious joint deterioration over time. If a dog’s hip dysplasia is not addressed early on, it can lead to chronic pain and joint damage.

Hip dysplasia in our canine friends has been tied to a few potential factors, but is often understood to be a hereditary condition that is exacerbated by other triggers. Some of the potential causes of developing hip dysplasia in dogs include:

  • Hereditary condition that is passed down from dog to dog
  • Excessive exercise during growing periods such as puppyhood
  • Fast growth periods, most often in large or giant breed dogs
  • Canine obesity
  • Improper nutrition that impacts normal growth
  • Inadequate nutrition for a dog’s age range

What Are The Signs Of Hip Dysplasia In Dogs?

Hip dysplasia in dogs can lead to chronic pain, making it so important to be aware of the signs of discomfort in our furry friends. Our beloved companions cannot tell us when they are hurting, meaning it’s up to us to decipher the many clues they display in their daily lives.

Some potential signs of hip dysplasia in dogs include:

  • Stiffness
  • Slow to get up in the morning
  • Decrease in daily activity
  • Difficulty getting up and down
  • Weakness in the hind legs
  • Decrease in thigh muscle mass
  • Decreased flexibility
  • Change in their normal gait
  • Sensitivity in their back end
  • Crying out or whining during physical activity

Breeds At Most Risk Of Hip Dysplasia

While any dog can fall victim to hip dysplasia, some breeds are known to be more at risk. Whether it’s due to their breeding habits or their large stature, these pups are prone to developing painful joint conditions.

German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia

German Shepherds are often the poster breed of hip dysplasia in our canine companions. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, 19.8% of German Shepherds born between 2011 and 2015 suffer from hip dysplasia. Because this condition is so prevalent in German Shepherds, it can easily be passed down from dog to dog with irresponsible breeding.

Due to the profit these breeders can make from each pup, some choose to cut corners and avoid ruling out this painful joint condition. Many German Shepherds will suffer as a result. This is why it is so important to choose a responsible breeder that screens their breeding adults for any sign of hip dysplasia, and other common conditions that can impact their lives.

Golden Retriever Hip Dysplasia

Golden retrievers are another breed that is commonly tied to hip dysplasia. The estimated prevalence of hip dysplasia among Golden Retrievers is about 8-14%, making it a significant issue for this popular breed. Like the German Shepherd, many believe this condition can be due to irresponsible breeding and other environmental triggers that put them at risk.

Saint Bernard Hip Dysplasia

Due to the large size of this breed, Saint Bernards are on the list of those most at risk of developing hip dysplasia. One of the many triggers of hip dysplasia in dogs is fast growth periods, making this breed especially susceptible. The large size of this breed will also put additional stress on the joints, making it so important to manage their weight as they age.

Bulldog Hip Dysplasia

According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Bulldogs are most at risk of developing hip dysplasia than any other breed. In a study of 844 Bulldogs over a 42 year period, hip dysplasia was detected in 71.8% of the Bulldogs. This is largely due to genetics and joint malformation, and the susceptibility to obesity in this breed.

Other Breeds

While the breeds listed above are the most common, there are other dog breeds that are prone to developing hip dysplasia as well. Hip dysplasia is often seen in French Bulldogs, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Pugs, Pitbulls, Newfoundlands, and more.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Hip Dysplasia

One of the most effective ways to manage hip dysplasia in dogs is to be aware of the common triggers. Being aware of potential triggers of hip dysplasia in dogs is a wonderful way to prevent pain in your furry friend, and manage their joint health in general. To help you better protect your canine companion, let’s discuss the ways to reduce the risk of hip dysplasia below.

Prevent Obesity

Preventing obesity may be the most effective way to reduce the risk of hip dysplasia in dogs. Excess weight can put extra stress on a dog’s joints, potentially leading to joint and cartilage damage over time. Maintaining an appropriate weight can not only reduce the possibility of developing any painful joint conditions, but prevent systemic health conditions as well.

Offer Supplements

Joint supplements can be a wonderful addition to a dog's life if they are at risk of developing hip dysplasia. Some veterinarians recommend joint supplements for large breed dogs of all kinds, as they contain inflammatory and reparative ingredients for overall joint management. If you have an at risk dog in your home, we suggest speaking with your vet about safe joint supplement options for your furry friend.

Avoid Over Exercise

While exercise is great for a dog, over exercise can be risky. Strenuous exercise can put extra stress on the joints, leading to joint damage over time. We always recommend taking it easy on your furry friend during their major growth periods, and having all regular exercise approved by your veterinarian.

Choose A Responsible Breeder

Choosing a responsible breeder is an incredible way to ensure the health of your future puppy. A reputable breeder will have an interest in improving the health of the breed going forward, meaning they will often screen their breeding adults for signs of future complications. Be sure to ask many questions when choosing your future furry friend, as well as asking for medical records clearing their parents of signs of hip dysplasia.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a few dog breeds that are more at risk of developing hip dysplasia. Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can better protect your furry friend going forward!

Amber LaRock
Amber LaRock

Amber LaRock is a Licensed Vet Tech that took her career online to spread knowledge on animal health and welfare. She graduated from the Cedar Valley Veterinary Technology Program in 2015 with an A.A.S in Veterinary Technology, and became a Licensed Veterinary Technician in Texas in 2016. Amber began her career in emergency medicine and critical care, and has now been working at an emergency animal hospital for 6 years. With the experience she gained from her time working in emergency medicine, Amber has been able to spread accurate information online in all realms of pet health. If she is not at her laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find her somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that she can find!



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