Hip Dysplasia is an inherited health problem that many larger breeds are susceptible to. The Labrador is no exception and is another reason why it is so important to know the bloodline of your Lab.
The exact cause of Hip Dysplasia is believed to be attributed to heredity but because of the multiple genes involved, it is difficult to prove.
This means it is possible for two parents with good hips to have pups with Hip Dysplasia. Environmental factors also can attribute to hip problems in dogs.
Hip Dysplasia involves an abnormality of the hip and can vary from mild discomfort to severely crippling.
Typically symptoms of Hip Dysplasia begin to show at an early age, usually between 6 and 12 months of age. Although not as common, there have also been cases documented of late-onset Hip Dysplasia in senior dogs.
The first sign is usually mild discomfort shown in the hind legs and is typically heightened after strenuous exercise.
A dog can be tested as early as 4 months of age although testing at this age increases the chance of misdiagnosis. The exam is typically done with an x-ray but a cat scan can also be used if the x-ray does not produce accurate results.
All Labs that are being considered for breeding should have this test completed to ensure they do not pass problems onto pups. A test should also be completed at 24 months because at this age an accurate reading can be determined.
The OFA is responsible for keeping a registry of tested dogs. When tested if a dog shows problems it will be assigned as Dysplasic and show the rating Mild, Moderate, or Severe.
If the dog passes, it will be assigned as Non-dysplasic and assigned an Excellent, Good, or Fair. The cost of this testing is small ($150 – $200) compared to the thousands that is required if Dysplasic pups are born because of the lack of testing. Of Labs that have been tested 13% have tested Dysplasic.
The best way to control this health issue is by only breeding Non-dysplasic. This starts with the breeder being responsible and wanting to improve the breed and also involves the buyer being informed enough to not purchase dogs that have not been tested.