German Shepherd Hip Problems

German Shepherds are great dogs not only for law enforcement work, personal protection and of course as that ever faithful family dog.  However they can be very prone to several health issues.  We will discuss those issues here so hopefully the dog you purchase will be healthy and live a long happy life.

Probably one of the most common and debilitating health issue that can be found in the German Shepherd is hip dysplasiaHip dysplasia is actually an abnormal joint structure in the hip.

Hip dysplasia can be found in many different breeds of dogs.  Usually it effects larger breed dogs like the GSD, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweiler’s and other similar size dogs.

The symptoms can include a dog that walks and runs with an unusual gait.  Quite often you will see them run with what you would call a “bunny hopping” type gait.  An effected dog will sometimes show stiffness and pain in the rear leg or legs after exercise.  Some dogs will have a hard time climbing stairs or even limp as well.  Another sign is a dog that sits very slowly.

One good question you may be thinking is what causes this ailment.  There are several different factors that can cause hip dysplasia and even make it worse.  These factors include genetics, nutrition and exercise.

If you think that your dog may possibly be suffering from this ailment it can be diagnosed by having your vet x-ray the hips.  Your dog will have to be sedated and put to sleep so it can be positioned properly.  Your vet can also send the x-rays to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals ( OFA ) in Australia, Australian National Kennel Council Ltd for a full determination.  However if you see symptoms your vet will be able to diagnose it with out the help of OFA or (ANKC).

The next question is how can it be treated.  Depending on the severity it can be treated surgically and also medically with various oral medications or injections.  Of course weight management and the proper type of exercise is very important.

So the last question is how can it be prevented in your dog?  Veterinarian researchers agree that to prevent dysplasia selective breeding is a must.  Your puppy should have parents that have both been checked by the OFA after the age of 24 months.  I would never purchase a puppy from a breeder that does not OFA their breeding stock.

Keep in mind that getting a puppy whose parents have been checked by the OFA will greatly reduce the chance of hip dysplasia but will not guarantee that it never has it…


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Mark Mansfield

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