Hip dysplasia (CHD) is considered the most prominent orthopedic disease among canines worldwide. For many decades breeders have been trying to breed CHD out of their breed, with minimal success. This is because CHD is both genetic and environmental in nature. Studies have sought to define the genetic factors effecting hip development in dogs, and it is widely accepted that choosing breeding dogs that have minimal to no hip dysplasia is important in the quest to eliminate CHD.
Outside of screening of breeding dogs, controlling the environment a puppy is raised in seems to reduce the development of CHD. Limiting feed and slowing growth have been shown to be very important in good development of the hip and surrounding muscles. One study found the the lower weight at four months old the better the hip was at two years. Growing slow and keeping a puppy lean is especially important with our Caucasian Shepherd, as the prevalence in hip dysplasia in our breed according to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals is 51.4%, a number which is biased to be lower than true prevalence due to veterinarians advising radiographs from clearly dysplastic dogs not be submitted to OFA.
Another correlation to development of CHD is forced exercise. What is forced exercise? This is where a puppy is not allowed to regulate their own activity, such as long walks. Letting a puppy be active at its own pace is very important for the development of their muscles and joints.
It is important that a breeder review these risk factors with their puppy buyers to ensure their puppies get the best chance at healthy hips.
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