What is hip dysplasia? Can I guard against any German shepherd dog puppy that I buy being affected?

All larger breeds of dog weighing over about 11kg (25lb) are vulnerable to suffering from hip dysplasia, with the exception of the greyhound. German shepherd dogs (formerly known as Alsatians) are amongst the breeds at greatest risk. Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joints, so the ball-shaped head of the femur bone does not fit snugly into the socket of the pelvis, often because this is to shallow (see the right side of the radiograph below).

hip dysplasia radiographThe first obvious symptoms of pain are likely to appear in puppies about five months of age. Screening of breeding stock has helped to reduce the incidence of this weakness. When buying puppies of susceptible breeds such as the German shepherd dog therefore, it is important to see veterinary certification to confirm that the parents of the litter were scrutinised accordingly. Also, do not overfeed your puppy, causing it to become overweight. By putting a strain on the skeleton, this will then increase the risk of signs of lameness associated with hip dysplasia.