Updated: Apr 13
We get many questions about Hip Dysplasia and other health issues that dogs are prone to. We thought it would be a great idea to to share with you the basics of Hip Dysplasia in dogs.
What Is Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is an abnormality in the formation of hips. A simple description would be that the Ball and Socket of the hip have not formed correctly and are rubbing and grinding against each other. This causes degeneration of the joint and in most cases promotes osteoathritis. In mild cases of Hip Dysplasia no symptoms arise. In severe cases dogs can have many symptoms from limping, to total lameness.
How Do Dogs Get Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is a polygenetic, multifactorial disease. Many genes play a part in a dog being affected by this condition. These Genes coupled with environmental factors all play a part in the degenerative disease. Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease) can also contribute to Hip Dysplasia.
What Can Be Done To Prevent Hip Dysplasia?
A responsible breeder will do everything in their power to prevent this condition occurring in their dogs offspring. There are numerous tests that can be performed on their foundation stock. BVA, are working closely with the Kennel Club in the UK and they have noticed a slow decline in dogs affected by Hip Dysplasia. BVA, PenHipp and OFA recommend that digital images are taken of the dogs hips and the hips are scored or assessed on the severity of Hip Dysplasia. In some assessments they can also notify the breeder of the onset or absence of any osteoarthritis.
Is Testing Enough?
Quite simply No. Testing is only beneficial if the breeder follows the recommendations from the BVA or the association that has preformed the test. Each breed has an average score. To reduce Hip Dysplasia only dogs who have an average or below average should bred. Due to Pomskys being a cross breed, and limited number of Pomskys being tested, there is no average score to compare to. Looking at BVA scores breeders should take the average for a husky and apply this score against the Pomskys breed. Another alternative is for breeders to make use of the PenHIPP testing. PenHIPP assess Hip Dysplasia dramatically different to BVA taking more digital images and various positions.
As mentioned above, Multiple factors play a part in Hip Dysplasia. Breeding two dogs together that are clear of the condition or have an average or below average score, doesn't always rule out that their offspring will also be clear. Due to genetics playing a huge part in the condition, Hip Dysplasia can sometimes miss a generation and show up further down the line.
Can anything else be done to prevent or reduce the chance of getting Hip Dysplasia?
Quite simply Yes!! Again there are a lot of factors at play here so we will try to keep this simple so you don't get bored.
Genetics.... Breeders should scrutinise the pedigree of their breeding stock. By going back over generations and documenting the health test results they can usually get a good picture of wether severe Hip Dysplasia is being passed down through the generations. If parents, grandparent and great grandparents have been affected by this condition, it is likely that the offspring will be affected too. For this reason it is imperative for breeder to have a clear understanding of where their dogs came from, their lines and as much information as possible about their dogs pedigree.
Heres where environmental factors come in. The hips are made up of the hip socket and the head of the femoral bone. This is part of the skeleton and for the skeleton to grow and form properly the dog needs to have a good diet and the right kind of exercise. A dog that is overweight will be more likely to suffer from HD than a dog with a BCS of sayr 5 (on a BCS scale of 1-9). A dog that has had age appropriate exercise is less likely to suffer than a dog who has been doing agility or repetitive exercise from an early age. Activities such as agility shouldn't be carried out until the dog has reach maturity. The same is said for pregnancy. Whilst pregnant and whilst caring for a litter, the dog sends all of its nutrients to her pups. This starves the mother dog of nutrients needed to continue with skeletal development.
Another example comes to play in Pomeranians who have been known to have a condition called VDR. There is some evidence linking VDR with Osteoarthritis and in turn links to Hips Dysplasia.
In addition to this something as simple as the surface of the whelping box can be beneficial for new born pups and as they grow. Your breeder should provide a flooring with adequate traction for the pups to get around on.
What Does This Mean For Pomskys?
The majority of cases of Hip Dysplasia is found in large breeds. Smaller breeds can have the condition but quite often minus the painful symptoms seen in a larger breed. Even though Pomskys are medium to small type dogs there are a few that have matured to be almost the size of the husky. Hip Dysplasia should not be ruled out in a Pomskys health condition.
Why? Theres a growing number of people purchasing Pomskys and breeding without doing any research. These dogs are potentially related due to the gene pool in and around the UK being limited. There are also a number of people breeding Pomskys from untested lines.
Related dogs have the chance of cementing the traits both parents carry and whilst this can be used to get the good genes it will also cement the bad genes too so if Hip Dysplasia is or has been present in the pedigree it will certainly be present in the pups. For this reason we suggest you ask your breeder about the parents pedigree. Where their dogs came from? what health tests have been taken out on the breeders dogs and on the parents and grandparents of their dogs.