Causes of Hip Dysplasia: “It is known that two factors determine whether HD will occur, and if so, how bad it will be. These are hereditary and ‘environmental’ factors. ‘Hereditary’ relates to the genetic code passed to the offspring by both parents and environmental are all the outside influences which alter and shape the growth and functions of the bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and muscles of the body. In simple terms the genetic code is rather like an architect’s plan (genotype), while the environment is like the builder and his materials (phenotype). In HD the architect has made some errors
but the builders have a great influence on how things finally look and function.” BVA (British Veterinary Association) Canine Health Schemes Hip Dysplasia in dogs. Canine Health Schemes.
Basically translated this means that it is the breeders responsibility to ensure that they are breeding from ‘good stock’ but there is equally a responsibility of the new owner to ensure that the dog is fit and healthy.
Hip Scoring: We must make this clear, you only need to hip score your puppy if you are intending to breed (and have discussed this with your breeder). If you are keeping your puppy as a pet then you do not need to go to the time or quite frankly the expense of scoring your dog. You of course must still keep your dog fit and healthy as all animals and people are better off being fit and active.
In an ideal world the cost of hip scoring would be considerably less and then maybe all of the pet newfys could be scored and we would have a much better understanding of Hip Dysplasia in Newfoundlands.
So for a quick background on how it works, hip scoring is done when your dog has reached 12 months of age, the vet will usually lightly sedate your dog so as to allow easy (or as easy as moving a large newfy can be) manoeuvring.
They then take their x rays and when they are satisfied with the quality of the x ray they will wake said doggy up and send it merrily on its way home. In the mean time the vet will fill out the green form and send it and the x rays off to the BVA for them to score your dogs hips.
Each hip is scored from 0-53 with the total being 106 – the lower the score the better! However to make it more complicated, each breed will have different averages (depending on volume of dogs tested etc). As we breed newfy’s this page is specific to their breed averages etc. Currently the Newfoundland Dog BMS (breed mean score) is 25, the 5 year mean is 20 and the median is 15. Ideally you want to be no higher than the BMS, preferably the median score for BOTH parents. You also want to see that both hips are fairly symmetrical in their scores i.e you don’t want to see LEFT 0 & RIGHT 46, this can suggest a problem but it is wise to check with the breeder – some animals have sustained an injury which is not to be confused with a genetic weakness in all cases. Again we would suggest you check on these animals’ relatives to see if it is a common theme or a one off.
Now to make things more complicated, you also need to look at the relatives of your potential puppy. This is important – equally important is that you look at this with an open mind – if you spot a dog with ‘above average’ hips for example, look at its offspring have they routinely scored below average? Are their other health tests good? Does it look like a newfy should?!
So, what does this all mean to you wanting to buy your pet newfy? You need to look at the parents scores, you need to if possible look at any close family scores (the simplest way is to ask your breeder, they should have nothing to hide). You also need to look at the bigger picture – is it acceptable to have a dog a few marks over average, when it is clear that the other checks are exceptional and that the relatives and offspring are consistently below average?
Moving on we come to Elbows……..
Causes of Elbow Dysplasia: ‘ED is a multifactorial disease, which means that a number of factors can influence the occurrence of the condition. The most important factor, however, is the genetic make up of the dog. Other factors such as growth rate, diet and level of exercise may influence the severity of the disease in an individual dog, but they cannot prevent the disease or reduce the potential of the dog to pass on the disease to offspring. However, studies show that ED has a high heritability confirming that a high proportion of the disease is genetic’ BVA Canine Elbow Dysplasia. Canine Health Schemes
Elbow Dysplasia actual covers several abnormalities of the elbow, and unlike the hip system each elbow is not added up to give a total (!) for example: LE 2 RE1 Total = 2. It’s an odd system and is the more difficult of the schemes for potential buyers to wrap their head around.
The grading system is simple:
0 = Normal
1 = Mild ED
2 = Moderate ED or a primary lesion
3 = Severe ED
According to the BVA Canine Health Scheme booklet on ED animals used for breeding ‘Ideally dogs with 'normal' (grade 0) elbows should be chosen and at least dogs with 2 or 3 arthrosis should not be used for breeding’, so as with the hips you need to look at the bigger picture. 0 or 1 is acceptable as long as you can see previous generation’s results etc.
The issue with elbows is that they have not been scored or indeed a requirement for as long as hips so the database is much smaller. Also, and this is potentially a bigger issue, just because your dog has never had a days lameness in it’s life or shown any signs of discomfort when exercising with it’s elbows does not mean that it doesn’t have a form of ED – now this will immediately cause some of you to panic and others to raise their eyebrows and say “eh?”. Our advise is don’t panic, again as with the hips if your puppy is a family pet then don’t panic IF you are going to breed then you will of course be doing the elbow scores anyway so you will be fully assessing the dogs breeding potential.
There are a few dogs out there (both successful show dogs and dogs used solely for breeding) worldwide with elbows above a 1 and they have produced many offspring of whom most have sailed through their countries screening process, once again it is important to look at the bigger picture and try not tie yourself up in knots – talk to your breeder, talk to other breeders.