Dog hip dysplasia, commonly known as canine hip dysplasia (CHD), is a hip joint deformity that mostly affects German shepherds and other large breed dogs. Its symptoms can appear in pups as soon as a few months after birth, but they are most prevalent in canines between the ages of one and two years.

What is Hip Dysplasia in German Shepherd Dogs?

Hip dysplasia (HD) is a complicated disorder in which a dog’s hip joints build irregularly as he grows. The root cause of this irregular growth is hip joint slackness, which causes the two connecting bones of the pelvis joint, which are the femoral neck and the alveolar bone, to move irregularly similar to each other, resulting in the femoral neck subluxing (partially dislocating) from the pelvic girdle. [1]

It causes aberrant pressures and tensions on the joint, as well as infection and joint cell deterioration. In the end, the joints suffer from persistent arthritis. These alterations cause discomfort and impairment in the canine, which can appear as limping, irregular gait (mobility), tightness, unwillingness to get up and move, and difficulties running and walking.

Did you Know?

Hip dysplasia develops as a result of various hereditary and environmental factors

How Badly It Impacts Your German Shepherd’s Health?

Hip dysplasia (HD) has a significant influence on the health of many canines. Hip dysplasia grows into a permanent ailment producing chronic joint discomfort and gradual impairment due to joint deformity, despite the fact that it may produce occasional symptoms at first. Constant joint pain could be intense and distressing, involving long-term treatment. Secondary arthritis is challenging to treat, and death is prevalent. [2] [3]

How Long Will The Hip Dysplasia Last?

Sometimes canines will show evidence of hip dysplasia when they are quite young (under one year of age), while others might show symptoms at any time after adulthood. Once developed, it is permanent unless the vets perform extensive surgical operations. If your dog has a problem with mobility you should get yourself an K9 Ballistics Orthopedic Dog Bed.

How Can You Tell Whether a Dog is Transmitting or Will Get Affected?

Hip dysplasia is a hereditary disorder that develops by a variety of factors, including nutrition, fitness, overall growth, environment, muscular strength, and hormones. It is recommended to get a puppy whose parents do not have hip dysplasia and whose hip bones are in a good condition. But, this will not rule out the possibility that none of their pups would suffer from hip dysplasia; so an alternate strategy is to select a canine that is mature to get its hip flexibility tested through the PennHIP program in the United States. Anywhere outside the United States, access to this program is restricted, and canines must be at least four months old to be eligible. [4] [5]

Before preceding to breeding, all possible breeding canines should be evaluated as per a certified hip dysplasia control scheme, as well as the service’s instructions should be implemented.

Did you Know?

It is difficult to recognize canines that contain genetics that lead them to hip dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia Symptoms in Puppies

  • Abnormal walking
  • Limping
  • Bunny hopping
  • Fear of running, playing, or going upstairs
  • Difficulty laying down or getting up

Hip Dysplasia Symptoms in Adults

  • Lameness in the back legs
  • Limping
  • Coordination difficulties
  • Tightness
  • Joint instability or looseness
  • A shaky or irregular walk
  • When walking, there is a noticeable “click” sound.
  • Bunny hopping
  • Fear of running, jumping, or climbing stairs
  • Reduced energy
  • Spinal problems
  • Avoidance towards exercise
  • Difficult to stand straight
  • Having difficulty to lay down
  • Having trouble bending to pee or poop
  • Muscle mass reduction in the thighs
  • Joint pain in the hips
  • Back legs too close together

Prevention of German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia

You may take some actions to minimize your German Shepherd’s chance of hip dysplasia, or you can decrease the intensity if you own a puppy. Taking proper care of your puppy’s hips may make a huge impact.

The first task is to locate a reputable or registered breeder. German Shepherds having hip dysplasia should not be mated as they might pass this disorder to their puppies. OFA and PennHip offer a hip dysplasia certificate. These certificates are verified results of x-rays of the joints of canines to assess whether they are breedable. Police dog instructors, for instance, are usually cautious to choose dogs that are free of dysplasia. [6] [7] [8]

When pups mature too quickly, commonly due to high-calorie intake, their hip joints do not expand at the same pace as the rest of their body, resulting in dysplasia. It’s crucial to keep servings under control at all times, and your veterinarian may advise your pet to eat low-calcium, low-calorie foods. Maintain your pet’s body weight in an appropriate range throughout his life, as obesity can worsen joint problems. You must also limit your pet’s walk to 20 minutes a day and follow the in-depth walking guide in this article.

Did you Know?

Obesity can put extreme pressure on a dog’s joint suffering from hip dysplasia.

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia in German Shepherds

Your vet will perform a complete health assessment during your pet’s regular visit. This examination could be sufficient for your vet to detect hip dysplasia. In other circumstances, it is the responsibility of pet parents to inform vets when their pets are in pain.

Among the first tasks, your vet might do is bend your pet’s back legs to see whether the joint is loose or if there is any degradation, discomfort, or limited joint mobility. Your pet’s physical checkup may involve blood tests since inflammation caused by joint disorders can be detected in the sample of blood. Your vet would also want a record of your canine’s health and problems, any accidents or traumas that could have led to these difficulties, and any details you know regarding your pet’s genetics. [9] [10]

A radiograph or X-ray is generally essential to make a proper diagnosis. Your vet would examine radiographs of your pet’s joints to establish the level and complexity of hip dysplasia, which would also aid in determining the optimal treatment option for your canine.

X-rays are the best method to confirm that your German shepherd has hip dysplasia or any similar disorder. Since they are specialized x-rays, please ensure that your veterinarian is familiar with them. This form of an x-ray is stressful for the pet, and you wouldn’t like them to experience it again.

In these X-rays, you can clearly see that in a dog having healthy hips, the bulb of the hip rests completely in the hollow, but in problematic hips, it generally rests partially in the hollow.


German Shepherds are excellent, energetic dogs that tend to enjoy a quality lifestyle despite hip dysplasia. You can minimize the severe complications of dysplasia if you observe the early indications and apply appropriate preventative techniques.

Hip dysplasia has an excellent diagnosis, specifically if you detect it early. If you’re ready to make great efforts, then your pet has a high chance of enjoying a long healthy life after being diagnosed with dysplasia.