Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is a condition in which the hip joint is loose, causing mobility issues, osteoarthritis, and a lot of pain.It’s most common in certain larger dog breeds such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Weimaraners, and Rottweilers. It’s a condition that is passed down from one generation to the next, so a good breeder does their best to choose dogs that have excellent hips.

There are two main evaluations that measure susceptibility to hip dysplasia – OFA and PennHip.

OFA. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has a hip joint scoring system that has been in use since 1966. This seven point system is a qualitative score based on the evaluation of a hip radiograph by three different radiologists who look at the x-rays and give the hip a score of severe to excellent. With OFA, a dog must be two years old before it can be evaluated. OFA is recognized by the American Kennel Club. There is no vet certification required.

PennHip. In 1993, a more accurate screening for hip dysplasia was developed at the University of Pennsylvania. It involves three separate radiographs which are taken while the dog is under anesthesia sedation. The scoring is quantitative, based on an actual measurement of the “Distraction Index (DI)”, the percentage the femur is displaced from the hip.

A PennHip evaluation can be done on a puppy as young as 16 weeks. A veterinarian must be certified to perform a PennHip scan. While it is generally accepted to be the best measure and predictor, PennHip is more expensive than OFA, and has yet to be recognized by the AFC.

At Town N Country, Dr. Horn has PennHip certification, and oversees the three x-rays that are sent to Antech Imaging Services for evaluation. She then reviews the confidential report, which includes information on your dog’s DI and a laxity profile which will compare him to other dogs of the same breed.

A PennHip evaluation helps breeders and pet owners. It helps breeders make responsible decisions about which dogs to breed for the future. It alerts pet owners early on if their dog will develop hip dysplasia, so that they can take measures to slow the development and reduce the severity of the disease. And it helps us, too, giving us yet another tool to keep your pet healthy and happy for years to come.