As a dog owner, you know that choosing a dog breed is about more than how she will look on your Instagram feed. There are so many other factors to be considered when choosing a dog breed.

Some factors are simple such as size and physical appearance while others are much more complicated for example lifespan and the risk of developing certain diseases.

Yes, your dog can be prone to a certain disease just because of the breed she is. Some of the diseases that affect different dog breeds differently include cataracts, Cushing’s disease, and canine hip dysplasia.

What is Canine Hip Dysplasia?

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is an orthopedic disease that affects the hip joints of dogs. The condition occurs when there is a developmental issue in the development of the ball and socket joint at the hip.

Two bones meet at the hip joint; the femur (thigh bone) which is the ball and the hip bone which is the socket into which the ball fits. If either of the two bones develops at a different rate from the other, they stop fitting perfectly resulting in hip dysplasia.

Signs and Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

It is very important to know the signs of dog hip dysplasia especially for owners with high-risk dogs. This is because early diagnosis and treatment make a big difference in your dog’s chances against the disease.

Some of the signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia include:

  • Limping or lameness
  • Bunny hopping gait
  • Loss of muscle mass in the hind legs
  • Swelling at the hips
  • Reduced willingness to exercise
  • Difficulty climbing the stairs

Dog Breeds Prone to Hip Dysplasia 

German Shepherds

German Shepherds are one of the most affected breeds when it comes to hip dysplasia. Not only are German Shepherds very large but they are also very active which makes them much more prone to hip dysplasia.

Even if a German Shepherd does not develop hip dysplasia, her chances of getting mobility issues remain high.


Hip dysplasia is one of the most common conditions in corgis. If exposed to other risk factors like obesity, excessive growth rate, too much exercise, and a bad diet, corgis are very likely to get hip dysplasia.

Labrador and Golden Retrievers

Retrievers are another very active breed of dogs. Combined with their medium to large size, the intense physical activity propels their risk for hip dysplasia even higher.

Owners of retrievers must carefully watch them as they grow to check for any changes in movement.

English and French Bulldogs

Due to their short stout stature, Bulldogs also stand a high chance of getting hip dysplasia. At around 6 months of age, a bulldog may start to show signs of hip dysplasia but the disease can also appear at a later age.

Great Danes

Great Danes are another very large breed whose size puts them at high risk for hip dysplasia. Just like any dog breed, maintaining a healthy weight and a moderate level of physical activity will help lower the risk.

Remember not to overexercise your Great Dane as that may also cause hip joint problems.

Saint Bernard

When it comes to size, Saint Bernards easily take the cake. Saint Bernards are one of the largest breeds of dogs in the world. Saint Bernards should be carefully fed to prevent them from getting even heavier.

Even at a normal weight, Saint Bernards exert a lot of pressure on their hip joints. It is therefore very crucial to always keep them at a healthy weight to protect them from hip dysplasia.

Bernese Mountain Dogs

At around 7 to 10 years, you may notice your Bernese Mountain Dog start to get issues with her mobility. Visit your veterinarian as soon as you notice any signs that may indicate that your dog has hip dysplasia.


Mastiff hip dysplasia may develop as early as 5 months. It may wait and become apparent at an older age (1 to 2 years). To minimize the risk of hip dysplasia in Mastiffs, they must be given a proper diet, adequate exercise, and must be properly bred.


While large-breed dogs carry the most risk for hip dysplasia, small dogs are not completely free of the disease. Pugs also have a fairly high risk of developing hip dysplasia.

The condition usually appears in pug puppies but can also attack much older pugs.

Basset Hounds

Basset Hound owners may be under the impression that they are completely free of the risk of hip dysplasia because of their small size but this is not right. Basset Hounds are also prone to degenerative joint disease despite their small stature.

Just like you would watch giant breed dogs for potential signs, you should also monitor Basset Hounds.


Rottweilers may be known for their strong and sturdy frames but they are sadly not exempt from hip dysplasia. The condition can cause their otherwise firm and strong bodies to get mobility issues.

Rottweilers with hip dysplasia will show difficulty exercising and moving about.

Prevention of Hip Dysplasia in Puppies

Pick a Responsible Breeder

Since hip dysplasia is genetic, breeders can work to reduce its prevalence in dogs through a process known as selective breeding. In selective breeding, only dogs that do not show signs of having hip dysplasia are allowed to breed.

Not all breeders do this. Due to greed, some breeders go ahead and breed dogs that have clear signs of developing hip dysplasia. The chance of getting hip dysplasia in a German Shepherd for example is 1 in 5. These chances are even higher if the parents had it.

If you do not use a good breeder, you may take home a puppy whose likelihood to get the condition is nearly 50%.

When choosing a breeder, be sure to find out if he/she practices hip certification before breeding her dogs.

What is Hip Certification?

Hip certification is a process where the hips of a dog are examined to determine her chances of getting hip dysplasia before she is allowed to breed.

At around the age of 2, dog breeds with a high risk of hip dysplasia are inspected using specialized x rays. From these x rays, a breeder is able to tell if the dog will get hip dysplasia in the future.

If a dog shows no signs of developing the disease, she is allowed to breed. If she does, she is not allowed to breed.

Healthy Diet

A good diet is essential for the prevention of diseases including hip dysplasia. You should not overfeed your dog to protect her from gaining excess weight. Instead, you should provide just enough food that is rich in nutrients.

Being overweight is one of the main risk factors for hip dysplasia. This is because excess weight exerts excess pressure on the joints further increasing the risk of joint disease.

You should choose only the best quality food for your dog.

Appropriate Exercise

Encourage your canine friend to get some physical exercise every day or whenever possible. Exercise is not only good for general body health but also for maintaining a healthy weight. Overweight dogs should especially be encouraged to get enough physical exercise to help them shed some pounds.

Exercise also improves the strength of the skeletal structure.

Do not over exercise your dog. Too much exercise is as much of a risk factor for hip dysplasia as too little exercise.

Start Natural and Hip Joint Supplements Early

No matter how well we feed our dogs, sometimes it is difficult to meet all their nutrient needs through food alone. Fortunately, there is a solution for that; supplements.

Supplements are packed with many health-promoting properties that can protect hip joint health. Natural supplements like turmeric and ginger contain compounds like antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that are protective of hip joints.

Nutritional supplements like vitamin D and calcium improve bone health and strength. Other nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

Treatment for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

You may do your best to protect your dog from hip dysplasia but your dog may still get the condition. This is not an indication of failure on your part as a dog owner. It is rather an indication of genetics having a much bigger influence than the environment. Fortunately, there is still so much you can do to help your dog through her diagnosis.

Weight Management

In overweight dogs, weight management should be one of the first steps taken during treatment. It is especially important to lose weight if it identified as the cause of your dog’s hip dysplasia.

A low-calorie diet and physical exercise are the most effective ways to promote weight loss. Seek the help of a trained nutrition expert when choosing a diet for your dog.

Do not overexercise a dog with hip dysplasia in an attempt to get her to lose weight. Too much exercise can cause the condition of your dogs hips to worsen over time.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a type of treatment where touch and movement are used to promote healing. Physical therapy is an effective treatment for many diseases especially those that have to do with mobility. Many types of physical therapy can work for hip dysplasia including hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, and massage.


Supplements whether natural or nutritive can be of great help in hip dysplasia. Natural supplements like turmeric may help lower inflammation at the hips promoting healing and reducing pain.

Nutritive supplements like vitamin D and calcium improve bone strength while omega-3 fatty acids can lower joint inflammation.

There are also supplements made specifically for joint issues for example glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM.

CBD oil

CBD oil can provide relief for dogs with hip dysplasia. CBD oil has so many positive effects on dogs like pain relief and reduced inflammation. CBD may also alleviate non-physical symptoms like anxiety and bad mood in dogs.


If all other forms of treatment prove ineffective, surgery is another option. Surgery is the most effective means of curing hip dysplasia. The three common types of surgeries performed for CHD are triple or double pelvic osteotomy, femoral head osteotomy, and total hip replacement.

The type of surgery performed on a dog depends on the level of progression of the disease and the dog’s age.

Our Final Thoughts

Hip dysplasia in dogs is more likely to affect some breeds than others. Some of the breeds with a high risk of developing hip dysplasia include German Shepherds, Corgis, Labrador, Golden Retrievers, Bulldogs, Great Danes, Saint Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Mastiffs, Pugs, Basset Hounds, and Rottweilers.

A dog’s journey with hip dysplasia starts with how she was bred. Choose a responsible breeder when getting your dog to ensure that you are getting a healthy pup.

Even if your dog is a high-risk breed, you can limit her chances of getting the disease by promoting a healthy lifestyle. For example, you should provide a healthy, encourage physical exercise and give supplements.

If your dog ends up getting hip dysplasia, she can still live a fairly normal life if you manage and treat the condition appropriately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which dog breeds are most likely to get hip dysplasia?

Some of the dog breeds more likely to get hip dysplasia include Bernese Mountain Dogs, Mastiffs, Pugs, Basset Hounds, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Corgis, Labrador, Golden Retrievers, Bulldogs, Great Danes, Saint Bernard, and Bernese Mountain Dogs.

What dog has the worst hip problems?

Large breed dogs are most likely to get the worst hip problems.

How long can a dog live with hip dysplasia?

If well managed, a dog can live a long full life with hip dysplasia. If not, a dog’s life can be cut short sometimes requiring euthanasia.

What should I do for a dog with hip dysplasia?

You can help your dog’s hip dysplasia by promoting a healthy lifestyle for her. For example, you should provide a healthy diet, equate physical exercise, and a supportive environment. Surgery may be necessary for dogs whose CHD does not resolve with these methods.