Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
Hip and elbow dysplasias are common
conditions in Bernese Mountain Dogs. These are structural defects in the joints that can
cause mild to crippling arthritis. The summary below covers what every Bernese owner
should know. The links to articles on specific types of joint disease provide more
in depth information.
- Hip dysplasia is basically a poorly formed hip
joint where the ball of the leg bone doesn't fit snugly into the hip socket.
- Elbow dysplasia can describe three different
conditions. There are three bones that come together in the elbow so
it is more complicated than the hip.
- "Joint Incongruity" is where the two lower arm
bones (radius and ulna) are not the same length and is usually caused by
them not growing at the same rate.
"Ununited Anconeal Process" (UAP) is where a small protrusion that is
normally part of the ulna bone is detached.
"Fragmented Coronoid Process" (FCP) is where another part of the ulna bone
- Dysplasia is inherited, but many genes are involved.
- It is possible for normal parents to produce dysplastic puppies; however, the chance of
a particular puppy's having dysplasia is reduced if both parents are normal, and even more
greatly reduced if other close relatives (grand parents, aunts, uncles,
brothers, and sisters) are also free from dysplasia.
- environmental factors - overly rapid puppy growth, improper diet, and strenuous
exercise--do not cause dysplasia but may act to worsen it.
- X-rays of mature dogs are the definitive way to diagnose dysplasia. X-rays may be done
of younger dogs who are exhibiting clinical symptoms (e.g., lameness), but they may not
accurately predict how bad the final effects will be. Because both hip and elbow
dysplasias often are not apparent at birth but develop over time, mild or moderate
dysplasia often cannot be diagnosed in young dogs.
- The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) evaluates dogs
for dysplasia at 2 years of age
by X-ray. Dogs found to be free of dysplasia are issued a certificate and a registration
- Of all the breeds evaluated by the OFA, Bernese have the eighth highest incidence of hip
dysplasia. 28% of the Berners whose hip X-rays are submitted are rated as dysplastic.
- Surgery to correct dysplasia in puppies can be helpful but is expensive. Hip surgery is usually more successful than elbow surgery.
- breeding dogs be free of dysplasia
- breeding dogs' parents and grandparents be free of dysplasia
- 75% or more of any siblings or half siblings of breeding dogs be free of dysplasia
Copyright 2011 Philip Shaffer