Hip Dysplasia is a condition caused when the hip joint is badly constructed.  The hip joint is formed by the ball of the head of the thigh and a socket in the pelvis.  The ball should fit snugly into the socket of the pelvis.  When the fit is poor, wear occurs to the surfaces of the joint causing damage to the joint, cartilage and bones and the development of arthritis.

Hip Dysplasia occurs in many animals, including a number of breeds of dog and the Golden Retriever.  Hip Dysplasia occurs when the genetic weakness for the disease and environmental stress factors are combined.  The condition is polygenic; caused by the cumulative effects of a number of genes which affect the growth and development of the hip joint.  Because of the number of factors involved, the expression of Hip Dysplasia varies considerably from one dog to another.

Environmental stresses affecting Hip Dysplasia include the dog's rate of growth, his weight and the amount and type of exercise.  A puppy needs to grow at the correct rate.  Allowing a puppy to grow too quickly, become overweight and to jump and run about on slippery surfaces increases the likelihood of poor bone and joint development.  Inappropriate exercise while his bones are developing such as accompanying a jogger or running with a bike also increases the risk.

There is no way to be absolutely sure that your puppy will not develop Hip Dysplasia.  A history of parents, siblings and grandparents who have low scores reduce the chance of your puppy having a high score.

There is evidence that a selective breeding program can reduce the number of dogs affected with Hip Dysplasia.  Breeding dogs should be scored under an accredited scheme.  The AVA (Australian Veterinary Association) and the BVA (British Veterinary Association) schemes use x-rays of the hip joints which are evaluated by accredited scorers.  A total is given for each hip.  A perfect ball and socket joint has

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From a paper by Dr Sandra Lister BVSC (Hons), MACVSC printed in the PAL Digest Spring 1989

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