Dog Breeds Prone to Hip Dysplasia
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Hip dysplasia is a disease which affects the joint between the pelvis and femur in dogs. It is both hereditary and degenerative, but there are lifestyle factors which can can influence the disease. With hereditary cases, it is only usually registered when the puppy is about 6 months old.
Since there is a genetic influence in developing hip dysplasia, it is perhaps understandable that some dog breeds will be more likely to develop hip dysplasia than others. At AnimalWised, we provide our list of 10 dog breeds prone to hip dysplasia with pictures. If you have one of these dog breeds, or a cross of these breeds, in your family, you should talk to your veterinarian about how to reduce its impact on their health.
Why are some dog breeds prone to hip dysplasia?
There are different factors which influence the reason why some dogs are more prone to hip dysplasia than others. Unfortunately, one of the biggest factors is human intervention. Since the domestication of dogs began, humans have been crossing different individual dogs to create the most diverse land mammal species on the planet. The reason for these crosses is to create dogs which will conform to some desired combination of physical and behavioral traits.
The result of these crossings is that breeds have a less diverse gene pool. Various physical problems can develop, such as brachycephalic dog breeds and those predisposed to hip dysplasia. Size is a factor as large dog breeds tend too develop hip dysplasia. These dogs have been bred to be large, often at the expense of their musculoskeletal system. Obesity in dogs is also a contributing factor as the additional weight can put strain on their joints.
Since purebred animals pass a smaller range of genes down to their progeny, their offspring are more likely to develop the same disorders. With dog breed more likely to develop hip dysplasia, we need to ensure we give them the correct diet to ensure strong joints and exercise them correctly. This means providing enough exercise to stay healthy, but not overworking their joints to further deteriorate them.
1. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is one of the breeds most likely to develop hip dysplasia. As a large dog breed, it is relatively easy to see when a GSD is developing hip dysplasia. Their back legs often progressively buckle underneath them and we can see their spine curve. This is also partly due to other diseases commonly developed by German Shepherds, but hip dysplasia is one of the most common.
Since they are a breed which requires a lot of exercise, it is not common for them to become overweight. However, if their activity level does drop, it is certainly a risk factor. Although hip dysplasia can affect a dog throughout their lives, we have to be especially careful when they enter old age.
2. Belgian Shepherd Malinois
Hip dysplasia is also a common disease of the Belgian Shepherd Malinois. A similar dog type to the German Shepherd, this breed also needs to be careful with their exercise routine. They are, however, more predisposed to obesity, so we need to be especially careful with their diet, especially if they cease exercise for any reason. In particular, we should avoid intensive exercises such as jumping courses as when they land, the dog puts more pressure on their joints.
3. Saint Bernard
Saint Bernard dogs are also known for their hefty weight and size, even when they are not obese. When healthy, they are great working dogs and have been used in rescue situations for centuries. However, they also are a breed with a genetic disposition toward hip dysplasia. They grow very fast from a young age, reaching weights of over 100 kg (220 lbs).
We need to give large breeds like the St Bernard plenty of space in the home. Their beds need to have room to stretch out and we cannot keep them indoors all day. A comfortable bed is also an important factor in reducing the symptoms of hip dysplasia since it takes pressure off the joints when they are asleep.
4. Great Dane
Although not the heaviest dogs, the Great Dane is the tallest breed and is certainly no lightweight. They have a relatively athletic body and are not generally prone to obesity. However, their long legs are structured in a way they can cause serious resistance in the hips. Even at a healthy weight, these breeds can weigh anywhere from 45 - 100 kg/100 - 220 lb.
Although it is necessary for dogs to have sufficient exercise, we need to be careful with breeds like the Great Dane when it comes to pressure exerted on their hips. Surprisingly, although the Great Dane needs enough space to maneuver in the home, they can actually be a good apartment dog as they are relatively sedentary when at home.
5. Pyrenean Mastiff
The Pyrenean Mastiff is considered one of the dog breeds most prone to hip dysplasia, also due to their large size and weight. We need to bear in mind the factor of genetics in all these breeds, but the fact that the dog can weigh so much implies that its joints will likely wear out more easily. Although it is true that they must support more weight, these joints are also larger and denser bones than those of other smaller dogs.
6. Neapolitan Mastiff
Other Mastiff breeds are also susceptible to hip dysplasia due to their large size. The Neapolitan Mastiff is a good example. They are of a considerable size and can weigh as much as a Great Dane even though they are shorter animals. The gait of many Mastiff breeds has a certain sway to the side which puts more pressure on their joints. We need to be very careful of these dog breeds and ensure we provide them with the right diet and care.
7. French Bulldog
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the French Bulldog. Far from being a large dog breed, they are a small Bulldog type breed with a squat body. They present with various problems, often related to the aforementioned brachycephalia. This can obstruct their airways, making both breathing and exercise difficult. For this reason, they are prone to obesity, something which can exacerbate hip dysplasia.
If we look at how they walk, the French Bulldog has a swinging motion when they move. We can see their hind legs are usually arched, causing them to make little hops as they waddle. We must never overfeed a French Bulldog and ensure we give them plenty of omega3 and omega 6 in their diet to keep their joints strong.
8. English Bulldog
Another Bulldog breed on our list of dogs prone to hip dysplasia is the English Bulldog. Their morphology is very similar to the French Bulldog, but they are larger in size. They also have arched hind legs which can make walking difficult and increase the risk of obesity. Again, if we consider genetics, we are faced with a breed which has many mobility problems. We need to be particularly careful with their exercise. Due to poor mobility and restricted airways, this dog can over-exercise easily and is prone to issues such as heat stroke.
9. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a breed that can weigh a lot, even if they are very active animals. Genetically, they are prone to hip dysplasia and their bulky frame doesn't help. We need to pay attention to any changes in their gait or mobility problems. For example, if we see our dog cannot stand up or walk properly, we can suspect hip dysplasia may be the cause. We will need to go to the veterinarian for a suitable diagnosis.
Although a very athletic dog, the Rottweiler is the last breed on our list of dogs prone to hip dysplasia. They are large and very powerful, but their genetic inheritance means hip dysplasia is always a concern. Not only can exercise increase the risk of this disorder, but we need to be careful when we stop exercising them for a while. Don't start again with intensive exercise as this can put more pressure on their joints.
Even if your canine is a mixed-breed dog or a dog not on our list, we need to be very careful with any mobility problems which may arise. Take them to a veterinarian at least once a year for a checkup (more for senior dogs). If your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, you should know it cannot be cured. However, symptoms can be managed with various treatment options such as physical therapy for dogs.
If you want to read similar articles to Dog Breeds Prone to Hip Dysplasia, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.
1. Flam, F. (2011). The unique diversity of man's best friend.