Hip Deformities in German Shepherds

German shepherds are predisposed to developing hip dysplasia.
i Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

German shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia, a deformity of the hip joint that develops as your puppy is growing. A diagnosis of hip dysplasia can be scary for you and painful for your dog, but your dog can still live a long, healthy life.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the ball of the femur does not fit correctly in the hip socket. It is caused by a weakness in the muscles and loose tendons and ligaments that normally hold the hip joint in place. This causes the hip joint to separate and the shape of the ball and socket to change and become deformed. This deformity also leads to arthritis in the hip joint.


You may first see signs of hip dysplasia when your puppy is only four to six weeks old or symptoms may not develop until later in life. Dogs with hip dysplasia may be lame in the hind legs and not want to run or jump. In addition, they may be uncoordinated in the hindquarters and stagger and have trouble standing or lying down.


The exact causes of hip dysplasia in German shepherds are unknown, but several factors contribute to the disorder. Hip dysplasia does have a genetic link. In addition, environmental factors such as being overweight and overexertion, especially as a puppy contribute to the development of hip dysplasia. Avoid letting your puppy climb stairs, run or roughhouse on slippery floors or participate in high jumps. These activities are more likely to cause injury because your puppy is still growing and developing.


If your dog shows signs of hip dysplasia, take him in for a veterinary exam as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will diagnose hip dysplasia with a physical exam and an X-ray of the hips to determine the severity of the dysplasia.


Both surgical and non-surgical treatments are available for dogs with hip dysplasia. Non-surgical options can help prevent the progression of hip dysplasia and keep your dog and his joints more mobile. Options include weight management to reduce pressure on the hips and medication such as aspirin, NSAIDs and steroids to reduce pain and inflammation in the joint.

You have several surgical options, but these are riskier and have long recovery times for your dog.. A triple pelvic osteotomy is a procedure in which the surgeon will break the dogs hip in three places and correctly align the hip joint. A total hip replacement is also an option.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

the nest