Thursday, September 27, 2007

What's The Deal With Hip Dysplasia?

I had a very informative conversation yesterday with a person with two Corgis about hip dysplasia. I've read a bit about it over the course of my research, but before yesterday I never took the time to really learn about it and what effect it could have on my Corgi puppy. The person I spoke with told me that one of her Corgis has hip dysplasia (even though his parents tested good), and after surgery for it, he forever has a limp (but no pain luckily). Unfortunately, this is a common problem in Corgis because of how they're built. It's genetically passed, but if the parents have it, that doesn't mean the puppies will have it, and just because the parents are clear, that doesn't mean your puppy will be. It's kind of a gamble, but your odds are significantly better if you make sure you're getting a puppy from a line that isn't known to have it. Try and find information on the grandparents if you can as well.

A great resource is the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. It offers lots of information on what hip dysplasia is, when to test for it, and what the results of those tests mean. If your breeder has gotten their dogs tested, all you need is their name or registration number, and you can view the results. Just use the quick search text box in the top right corner.

When I did the search I discovered that my puppy daddy was tested when he was 12 months old and tested "preliminary mild". To understand what the different results mean, check out the explanation here. "Mild" sounded pretty serious! A preliminary test is done when the dog is too young, and its hips aren't fully developed yet. What I read worried me, so I asked my breeder about it right away, and I think what I got back from her was a very honest answer.

She said my puppy daddy showed luxation in hips, which is very common in Corgis, and there was no sign of hip dysplasia, just a more relaxed hip joint. This is basically what the OFA website stated as the meaning of "mild" as well. She also added that the vet commented that he wished my puppy daddy had shallow hip sockets, but he had great muscle tone and connective tissue. The thing that really put my mind at ease was the part where she told me that of all the ~25 puppies she's had, none have had hip problems that came up. Does this mean it won't come up with my puppy? Of course not. But it means that my breeder isn't knowingly breeding puppies that have a high chance of having hip dysplasia. I know that whichever breeder I choose isn't going to be a 100% guarantee of no problems, but I can at least make sure I'm purchasing a puppy from an ethical breeder, which thankfully, I still think I am.

PS: This is one of the reasons that it's so important to not let your Corgi get overweight. Their bodies are not designed to handle the extra weight, and the stress ends up being concentrated on their back and hips, the main areas where Corgis have problems. Everything I've read says that if you can see your Corgi's rib bones, s/he's underweight. If you slide your hands over their ribs, you should be able to feel them, if you can't, s/he's overweight. Also, the breed standard calls for your Corgi to be about 25-30 pounds (remember females tend to be smaller and weigh less than the males), so if you're beyond that you may want to talk to your vet, s/he may just be big boned.

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