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Hip Dysplasia German Shepherd Signs

Skeletal Health And Supplementation

German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia: Warning Signs, Treatment, Prevention

Musculoskeletal disorders are debilitating conditions that are often associated with genetic makeup, malnutrition, and stress-related events. Some breeds like the German shepherd, are predisposed to a variety of different skeletal disorders, including but not limited to: canine hip dysplasia, Cauda equina syndrome, and osteoarthritis. These conditions can be a result of poor breeding or induced by intense exercise and poor diet.

Canine hip dysplasia is an orthopaedic condition resulting from abnormal development of the hip joint and surrounding tissue causing the instability and partial dislocation of the hip joint, resulting in pain, inflammation, lameness, and potentially osteoarthritis of the joint. German shepherds are genetically predisposed to CHD and the University of Veterinary Medicine in Germany found its prevalence estimated to be approximately 35% of veterinary cases associated with the disorder.

Osteoarthritis is one of the main contributors of musculoskeletal pain and disabilities that commonly affect German shepherds. Mechanical stress, oxidative damage and inflammatory mediators combine to induce the gradual degeneration of the articular cartilage in the joint, resulting in reduced muscle mass, pain, and locomotion.

Vitamins such as A and D also have crucial roles in bone development and maintenance by regulating bone and calcium metabolism. Adequate levels should be incorporated into a German shepherd diet to promote a healthy musculoskeletal system.

If It Is Hereditary Are Certain Breeds Affected More Than Others

Yes, although any dog can be affected, it is predominantly seen in larger dogs such as German Shepherds, Saint Bernards, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Old English Sheepdogs, and Bulldogs. Large mixed-breed dogs are also at risk for developing hip dysplasia and should be fed a special large breed growth diet their first year.

White Swiss Shepherd Dog

The White Swiss Shepherd Dog is a variety of the German Shepherd bred in Switzerland. It descends from the American White Shepherds the first stud dog of what was to become the breed was an American dog born in 1966 and imported to Switzerland. The variety was recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale as a separate breed in 2003, and it is now recognised by a number of national kennel clubs.

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What Breeds Are More Prone To Hip Dysplasia

Due to the importance of genetic predisposition, there are breeds of dogs that are more sensitive to developing this illness. They are as follows:

For small breeds they are:

  • English bulldog

Remember that even if your pet is not on the list, it can suffer from hip dysplasia. In the next section, we will look at the different classifications of hip dysplasia.

I Have Been Told That My Dog Has Hip Dysplasia But She Isnt Lame Is That Diagnosis Correct

German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia Signs and Treatments

Hip dysplasia is a deformity of the hip that occurs during growth. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. During growth, both the ball and the socket in the pelvis must grow at equal rates.

In hip dysplasia, this uniform growth during puppyhood does not occur. The result is laxity of the joint, followed by degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis , which is the bodys attempt to stabilize the loose hip joint.

The degree of lameness that occurs is dependent on the extent of these arthritic changes and may not be correlated with the appearance of the hip joint on X-rays. Some pets with significant signs of hip dysplasia or osteoarthritis on X-rays may not exhibit any clinical signs, while others with minimal changes may experience severe pain and lameness.

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German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia Outlook

Although it may seem scary, theres no need to panic if your GSD is diagnosed with this condition. The prognosis for hip dysplasia is generally good, especially if its caught early. If youre willing to put in some effort, your dog has an excellent chance at living a long and comfortable life after diagnosis.

Hopefully, this post gave you everything you need to know about German Shepherds and hip dysplasia. The most important thing to remember is that its not a death sentence. With proper management through surgery, use of a dog wheelchair, or supplements, your best friend can still live life to the fullest.

Please below if you have any more questions for me or if you have your own story to share. I always love to hear other peoples stories, especially about my favorite breed!

About Alexandra Animalso

I was raised to be a dog person. My first Shepherd grew up as I did and wanted to be where I was at all times. I got my second dog as a 16th birthday present, and her loyalty for me was just as strong as my first. I hope that my contribution to Animalso will help others find dogs who give them that same unconditional love.

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How To Diagnose A German Shepherd With Hip Dysplasia

If you see any of the above-mentioned symptoms in your German Shepherd, its important to take your dog to the vet right away. You cannot get a formal diagnosis without consulting your veterinarian first.

Whenever you take your German Shepherd to the vet, the vet will perform a physical examination to determine if hip dysplasia is an issue. As usual, the vet will ask you if your dog has any symptoms, possible injuries, or other health related questions.

During this physical examination, the vet will likely move around the dogs hind leg to check for any pain, grinding, or issues with motion. They may choose to have some blood work done too. In cases of hip dysplasia, inflammation will be an issue, and it can be seen in your dogs blood count.

Often, the vet will confirm hip dysplasia using an X ray. The X ray will be able to see into your dogs hips and determine the severity of the hip dysplasia. Although this may seem like an unnecessary step, the X ray is crucial for creating the best treatment method for your dog specifically.

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Common Causes Of Hip Dysplasia In German Shepherds

There are several causes of this condition which is hereditary and very common in large dogs. Dr. Wayne Riser conducted a lengthy study in 1975 on Canine Hip Dysplasia or CHD called Observations and Research on Hip Dysplasia.

He determined that several factors contributed to the disease. They included: accelerated growth as a puppy, enlarged head and feet, excessive appetite, thickset body with loose skin, and poor coordination in the gait.

How Is Hip Dysplasia In Dogs Diagnosed


The only way to know for sure if your dog has hip dysplasia is to have it x-rayed. This is typically done under anesthesia.

While sedated, the dog is completely relaxed and it allows the vet to manipulate the hips to feel any degree of looseness.

There are two certifications:

OFA will not certify a dog under 2 years of age, while a PennHIP evaluation can be done as early as 4 months.

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Hip Dysplasia In Older German Shepherds

As your German Shepherd enters his golden years, you may notice changes in his mobility. His once-sprightly steps may now be slightly slower, and he may have difficulty getting up after lying down. These are common signs of hip dysplasia, a congenital, degenerative joint disease that can cause significant pain and discomfort as your fur friend ages. Although hip dysplasia is one of the most common afflictions in older German Shepherds, there is no cure, but treatments are available to help manage the condition and improve your dogs quality of life.

In this blog post, well cover what you should know about hip dysplasia in older German Shepherds.

Our Misty Mae had horrible hip dysplasia, and at 17 years old, we said farewell to her.

What Causes Hip Dysplasia in Older German Shepherds?

Hip dysplasia results from the ball and socket in a dogs hip joint not fitting together correctly. As a result, they rub against each other out of sync instead of sliding smoothly like they are supposed to. This abnormal wear and tear eventually leads to deterioration and loss of function of the hip bone structure.

Normal canine ball and socket of hip bone structure Evidence of hip dysplasia

What Are The Signs Of Hip Dysplasia in Older German Shepherds?

How Is Hip Dysplasia Diagnosed?

Treatment of Hip Dysplasia:

Prognosis For Older German Shepherds With Hip Dysplasia

Here are some tools we use to help our older German Shepherd residents with hip dysplasia:

Other Remedies For Hip Dysplasia Pain

For less severe cases of hip dysplasia, a veterinarian may recommend one or more of these treatment options:

  • Physical therapy to improve muscle strength to stabilize the joint
  • Hydrotherapy which uses water to aid in healing
  • Diet changes for better nutrition or weight loss
  • Exercise restriction to avoid worsening the condition
  • Anti-inflammatory and other medications for pain relief

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Other Common Australian Shepherd Hip Problems

While hip dysplasia is the most prevalent canine hip issue, there may be other issues if your pup is displaying pain or discomfort in its hips or legs and CHD is not the cause. Panosteitis is another common issue that occurs in Australian shepherds. It is different from hip dysplasia in that it primarily affects the front legs, is temporary, and affects the long bones of the legs. It is most common in younger dogs, and like CHD, it can result in limping, lameness, swelling, etc.

Hypertrophic osteodystrophy is another growth-related leg issue that causes inflammation of the long bones. Osteoarthritis is a common ailment in older dogs caused by age-related muscle and joint degeneration. Other leg and joint diseases include osteochondritis dissecans and Legg-Calve-Perths Disease. Always consult with a veterinary professional for the correct diagnosis before moving forward with any treatment plan for your beloved pet.

It is never fun to watch your dog struggle with hip or leg pain, and it can be especially frustrating to watch pain limit your Australian shepherds natural love of running and playing. However, CHD is a treatable condition and there are many options that can ensure your Aussie is able to live a long, pain-free life.

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How The Hip Joint Works:

German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia Signs and Treatments

In order to understand the condition, it is important to first learn the basic anatomy of the canine hip joint and how it works.

The hip joint in dogs operates as a ball and socket joint. It is located at the top of the dogs leg. The ball is suppose to fit perfectly inside of this socket.

When it doesnt develop appropriately or fit correctly, there can be friction between the joints causing it to degrade through the years. This can lead to the dog eventually losing the function of the joint making it hard to walk.

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German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia: Helpful Treatment And Prevention Tips

By Katelyn Son | Updated November 09, 2022

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Yes, German Shepherd hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic problem. Nearly 20% of German Shepherds suffer from the condition. This implies that the chances of your German Shepherd developing hip dysplasia are 1 in 5. This probability is even higher for dogs whose parents had the disease.

As you may know, hip dysplasia mostly affects large breed dogs like Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Saint Bernard. Large breed dogs are prone to the condition because of their increased body weight.

When upright, the joints are tasked with the job of supporting the body. The heavier the body, the more pressure the joints have to support. The application of extra pressure on the joints increases the risk of developing joint diseases one of which is hip dysplasia.

In addition to large body size, genetics also play a role in increasing the risk of hip dysplasia in dogs. Canine hip dysplasia can be passed down from a dog to its puppies. This further contributes to its higher prevalence in certain breeds such as the German Shepherd.

Here are some of the signs you can expect if suspecting a German Shepherd hip dysplasia issue:

It is extremely important to take note of the signs and symptoms of canine hip dysplasia. This is because the condition is degenerative, meaning that it gets worse if not treated.

German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia: How To Tell

Dysplasia of the hip joint is a common problem in German Shepherds. It is not known how to tell if your dog has it, but there are a few signs that may help.

  • The first sign is that your dogs hips may be bowed or twisted. This is usually due to either arthritis or another condition that affects the joint.
  • The second sign is when your dogs hips get smaller than normal. This is usually because the hip joint has been damaged and needs time to heal.
  • The third sign is when your dogs hips seem to move too much from side to side or from up and down.

German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia is usually due to arthritis or another condition that affects the joint. If you cant find any of the signs listed above, get your dog checked by a veterinarian for hip dysplasia.

If you notice a change in your dogs gait or resistance to climbing stairs, you should have a certified veterinarian examine him. Canine hip dysplasia, while irreversible, can be monitored and treated to alleviate chronic pain.

Hip dysplasia affects 19.8% of German shepherds, according to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Its progression and treatment options are determined by a number of factors, including the degree of misalignment and the age of the dog.

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Keep Their Nails Trimmed

Many owners dont know this, but your dog walks on their toes or digits, called digitigrade walking. This means they need to feel the surface beneath their toes in order to provide feedback for their balance and prevent falls.

Keeping your dogs nails trimmed isnt only healthy paw care, but it allows them to maintain their natural gait and smooth walking, which assists in their balance.

Ignoring your dogs foot health, especially when they have hip problems, can create a multitude of additional health and joint pain down the road. When their nails are too long, they may change their gait which can cause skeletal changes and aggravate arthritis in their feet and toes .

Dont let overgrown nails cause your dog pain!

You can trim their nails at home or ask your vets off to trim their nails. This is usually a small price and sometimes free with a regular visit.

And many dog groomers offer mobile services that cater specifically to older dogs or dogs with special care needs. Its not as expensive as you think and its free to call and ask the groomer for a quote.

Trust me, its better than keeping your dog in pain with overgrown nails.

Surgical Treatment For Hip Dysplasia

Our male gsd with hip dysplasia, what we notice the most.

For some cases, typically where non-surgical management has been tried and there is little to no improvement in the dogs condition, surgical options can be explored.

At Animal Trust we offer two of these surgical options, which may or may not be appropriate in all cases.

Total hip replacement treatment

The gold standard treatment for dogs with advanced hip dysplasia and a service that is provided directly from our Shrewsbury surgery is total hip replacement. This procedure will be explored as an option when a dog has not responded to non-surgical management methods.

There is also a specific criteria that a dog must meet prior to being considered for this surgery. Learn more about total hip replacement surgery.

Learn how Phoebe recovery from total hip replacement surgery.

Femoral Head and Neck Excision

This is a salvage procedure for cases where THR is not an option but medical management is not working adequately. This procedure is usually recommended for smaller dogs and those who are more active generally experience better results.

In this procedure, the femoral head is surgically removed, this prevents the bones from grinding together and causing pain. Over time a false, fibrous joint forms between the femur and the pelvis.

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German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia: What Is It

The simplest explanation for hip dysplasia is that the ball and socket of the hip dont form and work properly.

If you are not familiar with canine anatomy , the canine hip has two main parts:

1. The ball at the top of the femur, the largest leg bone.

2. The socket in the hip bone where it connects with the ball.

Of course there are a lot of other moving parts that are required to make a hip joint work the way it should, including ligaments, muscles, blood vessels, and more.

But hip dysplasia specifically concerns the ball and socket parts. When the socket doesnt form properly into a cup or circle shape, the ball of the femur cant fit into it the way it should.

If you would like to see this explanation visually, the Vet Depot offers an excellent infographic you can take a look at.

This causes all kinds of problems, which we will discuss in the next section.

Just so you are aware, there is a related condition that German Shepherds can also inherit from their parents. This condition is called elbow dysplasia.

So you may be wondering, do German Shepherd dogs have elbows? The elbow that is being referred to here is actually the shoulder joint so where the femur of the front leg meets the socket of the shoulder girdle.

We wont discuss elbow dysplasia further here, but it is worth knowing the problem exists, and most of the information you are about to read applies to elbow dysplasia as well.


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