Why are German Shepherds Predisposed to Hip Dysplasia?

Researchers at the Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics at the Hannover University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover, Germany, have identified important genetic variants and their interconnected pathways for the development of hip dysplasia (DCC) in German Shepherds.

Hip Dysplasia Arthritis Symptoms in Dogs

The genes responsible for hip dysplasia are involved in the formation of bone and cartilage. More than 1,000 German Shepherds were genotyped, and scientists identified a large number of simple nucleotide polymorphisms (PNS) (the most common type of genetic variation) because of their relationship to DCC.

Explanation of Hip Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia is what is known as a multi-factorial polygenetic disease, which means that there is a genetic component in the disorder, more than one gene is involved and is caused by a variety of factors, which have not been Completely identified.

Dogs with hip dysplasia genes may develop the disease, or not; A dog without the genes of the DCC is not in danger.

A dog can have an excellent OFA and PennHIP score (which measures hip health) and even carry the disease genes, which means that future generations of puppies can develop DCC even if previous generations do not show signs of she.

A dog is diagnosed with CCD if the union of the head of the femur and the acetabulum has a malformation, which causes the separation of the two bones of the joint. In most cases, the acetabulum is not deep enough for the femoral head to comfortably enter into it.

In a dog with a healthy hip, the head (of the femur) in the upper part of the leg bone fits perfectly into the acetabulum. In animals with CHD, imperfect attachment causes the bones to separate. This separation results in the abnormal structure of the joint joined by weak, supporting muscles, ligaments and connective tissue.

The result is a joint that is rubbed and worn, rather than gliding smoothly during movement. Often the body tries to compensate for poorly bonded joint by producing hard bone material in and around it in an attempt to stabilize it. This alteration can have an opposite effect and generate an even less natural bond.

The deterioration and tearing of the joint by scrubbing and wearing out eventually results in degenerative joint disease (EAD), which can be extremely painful and debilitating for the dog.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

According to PennHIP,  a dog with CHD may have one or more of the following symptoms:

The disorder develops at 5 or 12 months for severe form; Then for the chronic form. Low tolerance to exercise
Abnormal step Reluctance to climb stairs
Play as a rabbit when running You can hear a “click” when walking
Thigh muscle atrophy Increased hip-width
Pain

The diagnosis of hip dysplasia is usually made because the dog shows symptoms or as a result of a standard hip examination.

If your dog is symptomatic, there will be signs of mobility and pain problems. The veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination and will take x-rays. Problems with joints are often easy to see on X-rays of dogs with symptoms. The veterinarian may also be able to feel loose from your dog’s hip joint and you will notice the pain caused by extending or flexing one of the hind legs.

In dogs without symptoms, DCC is frequently diagnosed during an OFA or PennHIP certification process, which is intended to establish the health of an animal’s hip.

What Dogs Develop DCC?

Some breeds of large dogs are more prone to DCC than others and are Newfoundland, St. Bernard, Old English Sheepdog, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Alaskan Malamute, Labrador Retriever and Samoyed.

Hip dysplasia also occurs less frequently in dogs of smaller breeds and in cats.

Other indicators of the DCC can be:

  • A body that is longer than tall
  • A high body mass index (BMI)
  • That the dog has been sterilized or neutered
  • Dogs under one-year-old who have been diagnosed with damage to the hip joint and microfractures in the acetabulum.
  • Young and middle-aged dogs with pain and weakness caused by osteoarthritis.

If a dog develops DCC and EAD / osteoarthritis or not, and the severity of it, they depend on their nature (genetic component) and breeding (environment and nutrition).

Environment, Nutrition, and Canine Hip Dysplasia

There are things you can do as a pet owner to prevent or reduce the severity of your dog’s hip dysplasia. For example, if you are planning to acquire a large or giant breed puppy, look for breeders who certify their dogs with PennHIP. OFA certifications are still the established standard, but PennHIP is a much better indicator of hip health.

A number of calories your dog consumes, especially between 3 and 10 months of age, can have a significant impact on whether a puppy with DCC genes will develop the disease. High calorie and carbohydrate foods can cause the complexion to develop too fast for cartilage in the body to keep pace, especially in large breed puppies. A balanced, proportioned, appropriate feed for your species will give your pet the right nutrition in the right amounts throughout his or her life.

In a study of Labrador Retriever puppies in 1997, dogs fed “freely” had a much higher rate of hip dysplasia than the other litter members, who were given the same feed, but in portions Amounted to 25 percent less than that of free-fed puppies. 3

Free-fed dogs also were a little heavier as adults than those in the group of controlled servings – on average, by about 22 pounds.

Obesity can increase the severity of dysplasia. The extra weight can accelerate the degeneration of the joints. If dogs born with genes that make them prone to hip dysplasia are allowed to be overweight, they will have a much higher risk of developing the disease and subsequently, also arthritis.

Exercise your dog with activities like running and swimming. The goal is to maintain good muscle mass, which can reduce the incidence and severity of CHD.

Avoid activities that require your pet to jump or change direction or stop suddenly. Do not let your dog exercise or spend a significant amount of time on slippery surfaces.

The Study Will Promote Better Foster Choices

According to Lena Fels, co-author of the study, dog breeding will benefit significantly from this research:

“Despite the use of DCC’s Estimated Breeding Values ​​(EBV), DCC dogs are not rare and often the condition is unexpected, according to breeders EBV. This poses major problems for dog breeders. The treatment of a dog suffering from CHD is often difficult and dogs often suffer from this painful condition. “

Fels believes that DCC can be prevented much more effectively thanks to the results of this study.

The complete genome DCC examination is available from the Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics and can be provided to all breeders and owners of German Shepherds.

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