Pitbull puppies waving

Canine Hip Dysplasia –  For most pet owners, this is a dreaded diagnosis, but here are a few thoughts, studies and things to ponder.


There is an accumulation of data spanning over 50 years now, showing the consensus that finally, the causes of canine hip dysplasia are only mostly environmental and very little to do with genetics.

It has been found and is common knowledge, that one can mate two parents with OFA rated excellent hips and have offspring that are dysplastic; or mate two dysplastic parents and get pups with normal to excellent hips.


How is this possible?

Some scientists go as far as to say that hip dysplasia is predominantly a biomechanics process, with genes playing a very limited part.

All puppies are born with perfectly normal hips.


“Hip dysplasia is not a congenital defect; it is not present at birth.  Multiple studies have demonstrated that all normal puppies are born with “perfect” hips; that is, they are “normal” for a newborn, with no signs of dysplasia.

The structures of the hip joint are cartilage at birth and only become bone as the puppy grows.  If a puppy is going to develop hip dysplasia, the process begins shortly after birth”

~ Carol Beuchat PhD

“The hip joints of all dogs are normal at birth. The joints continue to develop normally as long as full congruity is maintained between the acetabulum and the femoral head… The acetabular rims are stimulated to grow by mild traction applied by the joint capsule and gluteal muscles attached along their dorsal borders, and from pressure by the femoral heads upon the articular surfaces… The morphologic characteristics of the complex hip structure show that biomechanical behavior is the prime influence in the growth of this joint.”

~ Riser 1985

Proper Exercise For Puppies

The most critical period for proper growth and development of the hips in dogs is from birth to 8 weeks of age.Puppy busy with retriever training

This makes the type of exercise, how long the exercise lasts and where it is performed; very important factors.

You can learn about the important and cautions regarding correct play with your puppy in our article, Play is serious business when it comes to puppies’ bones


Exercise is good and bad!

Exercise strengthens the muscles of the legs and pelvis, which will increase the stability of the hip joint.

But not all exercise is created equal.

Puppies raised on slippery surfaces or with access to stairs when they are less than 3 months old have a higher risk of hip dysplasia, while those who are allowed off-lead exercise on soft, uneven ground (such as in a large yard or park) have a lower risk (Krontveit et al 2012).

Dogs born in the summer have a lower risk of hip dysplasia, presumably because they have more opportunity for exercise outdoors (Ktontveit et al 2012) in the sunshine, fresh air and on dirt!

On the other hand, dogs from 12-24 months old that regularly chase a ball or stick thrown by the owner have been found to have a higher risk of developing dysplastic hips (Sallander et al 2006).


Climbing Stairs Is NOT Hip

A study of 500 Newfoundland, Labrador, and Leonberger puppies found that puppies who climbed flights of stairs daily before they were 3 months of age had an increased risk of developing hip dysplasia.

aussie-on-stairsAlthough these breeds were selected for the study because of their relatively high incidence of hip dysplasia, the study seems to indicate that stairs represent a repetitive strain on any puppy’s joints

So if you have stairs in your home or garden, please consider ramps or carrying your puppy down any stairs if possible. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22620698)

For more information on appropriate exercise for puppies, you may be interested in reading this article:  Play is serious business when it comes to puppies’ bones


Nutrition is Important

While puppies are growing rapidly, it is critically important to get their nutrition correct. What better nutrition can there be than what is found in a species specific diet?

Dogs being carnivores (or at the very least carnivorous-onmnivores), will thrive on a raw meat, bone and organ diet.


Some Little-Known Facts For You to Think About by Dr. Tom Hungerford

“Hip Dysplasia was the first juvenile Bone Disease recognized in dogs, in 1935.

By 1965, … Hip Dysplasia was identified in 55 breeds world-wide. The skeletal problems didn’t stop there.

Think about this, how do you think it is that CHD (Canine hip Dysplasia) could suddenly appear in just 30 years and spread rapidly through all breeds?

Did Hip and Elbow Dysplasia exist before 1935? If so, was it common?

If it were not in existence, where did it come from, what happened?

What does all of this mean if we are assuming that these diseases are inherited and can, therefore be eliminated by genetic means? We’ve been trying to breed this out for 50 years and have not yet been really successful!

So if CHD truly is genetic in nature, then the genes which cause it, have had to have always been present in the dog population but were only “switched on” somehow in 30 short years. What happened after the 1930’s?”



Enter Commercial Dog Food which then became available

Puppy eating dog food

Up until the early 1940’s, people fed their pets on food scraps and raw meaty bones. Certainly this was not always the optimum, balance diets we read about today.

However, since the early 40’s, disease in our pets has shifted drastically. After a widespread, across the board switch to processed commercial foods there has been an uncanny connection to the resulting steady increase in not only skeletal diseases but liver disease, pancreatic disease and cancer!

Do you know what is in the processed, commercial dog food that you feed?  We do.  Orijen and Acana’s food’s quality is never outsourced.

If you are still feeding poorly processed kibble or canned food, and especially if you are a breeder, I encourage you to take a good look at the ingredients in that bag and think about how it’s nutritional value adds to your dog’s well being.

Please do your research and start comparing and thinking for yourself. You stand to save your dog years of discomfort and thousands in veterinary bills.  For a little research on your part, its a win-win for you and your dogs.




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