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Published: Jan 17, 2012

Hip dysplasia in dogs is fairly common among large breeds like golden and Labrador retrievers, mastiffs, Rottweilers and sheepdogs. The clinical signs of hip dysplasia tend to be the most severe as a dog ages, however, the issue begins at a very young age. When a canine is young and growing, its hip joints may not grow and form uniformly.  This often results in laxity or weakness in the hip joints which will then be followed by degenerative changes—called osteoarthritis—within the joint.  These changes can result in pain, limping or lameness in a dog's rear legs, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.

Genetic predisposition is not the only factor that can lead to this joint disorder. The American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) indicates that rapid growth or weight gain can also lead to dysplasia. Trauma to the area when a canine is young and growing can also increase the risk of hip dysplasia.

The clinical signs of hip dysplasia may include wobbly, weak or pained legs, or an unusual “bunny-hopping” sort of gait when they run.  While these signs can be seen in young puppies, the signs of this condition are more common in dogs over 1 or 2 years old. If you have a dog who is predisposed to hip dysplasia or you have noticed signs that your pet may be limping or in pain, it is important to get it to a vet for diagnosis.  VCA states that dogs with genetic predisposition to developing the joint problem should be taken to a veterinarian when they are puppies to have hip radiographs performed.

In many instances, the pain caused by the arthritis can be controlled with medication, however, sometimes surgery may be necessary to help dogs with hip dysplasia.