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The Great White Shepherd in Australia.


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Hip Dysplasia.


Hip Dysplasia is a familiar term to most breeders and owners of dogs. Most pedigree dogs will not have perfect hips, especially the large breeds like the Saint Bernard and the medium breeds like the German Shepherd, Labrador and  Retrievers where this has been a problem since about the 1930's. 

However, while it is still a problem, the cause is not yet completely established. It is the opinion of most vets that genetics play a role- some say the cause is entirely genetic and some say a combination of genetics and diet and exercise is causal  with some saying 40% being a genetic factor and 60% diet and exercise. There are others of the opinion that commercial dog food, immunisation injections and other chemicals put onto or into dogs may play a part. 

Whatever the cause, it is best to have both dam and sire hip scored through an X-ray before breeding if your vet thinks there may be a hip problem. Secondly, as diet and exercise seem to play a part in the severity of H.D., if not also part of the cause, advise buyers of your puppies to keep the puppies from getting overweight and from growing them too quickly and from giving over- strenuous exercise such as climbing stairs or jumping into vans or onto the back of utes. Over -walking for the first six months of a puppy's life is also contra-indicated. The addition of Ascorbic acid to the puppy's diet can't hurt and there have been claims (although not scientifically proven)  that it eliminates H.D. altogether. Fish oil is good too. The addition of calcium is not recommended as it can do more harm than good.

Hip Dysplasia is not the end of the world if your dog has it. Dog's with H.D. can live a long and happy life if they are kept on the lean side, not over-exercised and have a bed off the floor and away from draughts. Keeping your dog inside at night, especially in winter, is recommended. Adding  Glucosamine, Shark Cartilage and Green Lipped Mussel  to your dog's food may be of benefit and there are supplements available which contain all of these ingredients. Fish oil will help to lubricate the joints.

The links below are recommended reading:

Explaining Hip Dysplasia

Canine Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia and surgery

Comparing PennHip and Ofa X-rays

Nutrition and skeletal problems in young dogs

Pet Foods

Dr Angus McKibbin's Treatment for HD