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Can dogs compete if they have hip dysplasia?

Dog performing agility

Vet Roberta Baxter says: Judges place dogs entered in shows on the basis of a number of criteria including temperament, conformation, presence, and appearance at shows. They wouldn’t necessarily be aware of any underlying mild health problems, unless they affected the dog’s ability to trot up soundly and move well, or were apparent in terms of their conformation or appearance.

Dogs with a range of health problems can still be successful in the show ring and the breeding of certain breeds for specific characteristics has brought a higher incidence of some diseases which are closely linked with those breed characteristics.

Hip dysplasia is a common condition which can have very variable severity. Obviously a dog with severe hip dysplasia who was lame wouldn’t perform well in the show ring, but mild cases might do so. A dog with hip dysplasia that was severe enough to cause him pain as he ran up, would be lame, which would prevent him from being successful in the show ring.

When choosing a dog, I would always recommend that prospective owners do so on the basis of his health status and that of his parents; many hereditary diseases such as hip dysplasia can be screened for. Ideally breeders should concentrate on using parent dogs who are healthy; this isn’t always necessarily the same as choosing dogs that are successful in the show ring.

Hip out of place

A painful condition that frightens many dog owners, hip dysplasia occurs when there is insufficient stability to keep the head (ball) of the femur within the socket of the hip joint, and causes mobility issues of varying severity.

Hip replacements are possible and may be recommended if a dog is disabled, but many dogs merely need the condition managed rather than having to undergo surgery.

It is commonly seen in large and giant breeds, such as Labradors, Mastiffs, and Golden Retrievers, but can also be seen in smaller breeds too. Many dogs with the disease live relatively normal and healthy lives.

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