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I’ve noticed that there are all sorts of caveats and disclaimers that “reputable” breeders insert into their contracts regarding hip dysplasia guarantees which include:

  • Thou shalt not allow puppy to run up stairs.
  • Thou shalt not allow puppy to run down stairs.
  • Thou shalt not allow puppy to go jogging with you.
  • Thou shalt not allow puppy to jump on furniture.
  • Thou shalt not allow puppy to jump off furniture.
  • Thou shalt not allow puppy to jump.
  • Thou shalt not allow puppy to engage in high-impact activities.
  • Ad nauseum.

And I’ve been researching the various hip examinations to predict the development of hip dysplasia (ie PennHip versus OFA). I’ve come to the conclusion that OFA is basically worthless, and PennHip is downright expensive and does nothing to determine whether or not a dog’s or bitch’s pups will develop the disease…it only shows whether the individual animal on the xray has a likelihood of developing it. So, it’s good for weeding out the particularly bad breeding candidates before you breed them, but that’s about it.

What’s the point of doing expensive x-rays that can’t guarantee much? Let’s say the hips look great, but the dog never does any high impact activity, which is what Boxers enjoy doing. How do you ever know if the only reason the hips look good is because they’ve never been put to the test by real life activity? And let’s say the hips look not-so-great? And yet the dog has no outward symptoms despite engaging in tons of physical activity? And what if the x-rays don’t look great because the dog has engaged in tons of high-impact activity that has done damage? I think this over-dependence on x-rays, especially with OFA, has actually done people and dogs a disservice.

emeliaonback

And so I broke all those rules with my bitch, and now I am also disregarding them with her female pup who was born in June. By God, if she is predisposed to developing early hip dysplasia, I’m not going to do anything to prevent it from happening. My bitch, who will be 5 years old in May, has been running non-stop since a pup. Running hard. Wrestling with other dogs, getting chased (and kicked) by horses, accompanying horses on long, rocky, steep, two-hour-long trail rides, jumping 5-feet-high fences, and generally making a grand nuisance of herself. Other than when she breaks the occasional toenail, she has never limped and so far she has never had trouble jumping, climbing stairs, or bouncing around. She has massive, muscular thighs and a very wide stance when viewing her from the rear.

Check out these photos of Boxers with hip dysplasia:

brunohipdysplasia

This one is Bruno, an obviously neutered and overweight 3-year-old Boxer male. I wonder at what age he was neutered. Studies suggest that early neuter/spay can increase the risk of hip dysplasia development, although the disease may not be as severe. Bruno has hip dysplasia in his left hip, a repaired left ACL tear , and arthritis in his left hip, knee, and in his back. Can we blame this on bad breeding? Maybe. However, since the issues seem concentrated on one side, they were probably caused by an injury and then exacerbated by his weight. I bet money that his problems are mostly caused by being fat, and probably one of the biggest reasons he is fat is because he has no testicles.

Look at that, no thigh muscles:

brunohipdysplasia2

And here we’ve got a Cane Corso pup with the tell-tale narrow stance and slender thighs:

canecorsomastiffhipdysplasia

Based on the animal’s young age, I think we could blame the hip problems on genetics.

Every dog I’ve seen with hip problems (and I’ve seen quite a few), has had slim thighs, a narrow stance, and many times is overweight or was at some point.

THIS is what I think we should look for in a Boxer–slim waist, thunder thighs and a wide stance:

boxerthighmuscles

You want a Boxer that can run, jump, and box with the best of them. If you see a dog or bitch with a “good” OFA or PennHip, and yet it’s got lovehandles, a narrow stance, and thin thighs, to be safe don’t breed it. X-rays are a snapshot in time and can’t substitute for the here and now.