Breed Predispositions to Orthopedic Problems

Are purebred dogs at greater risk of developing orthopedic problems than mixed-breed dogs? Orthopedic problems can affect dogs of any breed or mix. Orthopedic disease and other genetic problems should be strongly considered when animals are to be bred, including problems with the dogs in their pedigrees and dogs produced by close relatives. If a breeder cannot tell you anything about a puppy's grandparents or half-siblings, you should question the breeder's depth of knowledge.

Purebred dogs have been studied a great deal,mixes generally have not. Generally speaking, large and giant breeds experience a higher incidence of growth-related lameness as well as hip dysplasia. Heavy, large-boned dogs commonly stress the joints, traumatizing the joint structures. Rottweilers and Labrador Retrievers are prome candidates for rupturing cruciate ligaments in the knee. Small dogs are prone to problems in the knees; medium-sized dogs have the fewest incidences of orthopedic disease, but any dog can be affected.

In the following list of breeds, some breeds were omitted because data has not been reported about those dogs. The may be helpful to breeders in selecting breeding pairs, and to puppy buyers in selecting a pet. Prevention is the best cure for diseases, but early detection provides the greatest number of treatment options.


  • Golden Retriever - Hip dysplasia (very high incidence); Elbow dysplasia; OCD (osteochondritis dissecans) of elbow; Muscular dystrophy; Thyroid disorders; Neoplasias.
  • Irish Setter - eneralized myopathy (stiff gait and other difficulties); Carpal (pastern) luxation; OCD (especially in the knees and shoulders); Metabolic bone disease; Neoplasias; Thyroid disorders; Hip dysplasia.
  • Irish Water Spaniel - Hip dysplasia.
Orthopedic problems in dogs


  • Afghan Hound - Elbow dysplasia; Thyroid disorders; Malformation of articular surfaces of prximal radius and ulna.
  • Basenji - Hip dysplasia.
  • Basset Hound - Vertebral deformity with pressure necrosis results from anomaly of third cervical vertebra; Achondroplasia (foreleg lameness caused by anatomical irregularity; cartilage of growth plate grows in irregular directions and is scant); OCD (shoulder); Osteodystrophy; Radial carpal joint irregularity; Patellar luxation; IVD; Panosteitis.
  • Beagle - Hip dysplasia; Epiphyseal dysplasia; IVD
  • Bloodhound - Hip dysplasia; Elbow dysplasia
  • Borzoi
  • Black-and-Tan Coonhound - Hip dysplasia (high incidence); Polyradiculoneuritis; Coondog paralysis
  • Dachshund - IVD; Osteoporosis clinically similar to swimmers, with radiographs showing dense bones and abnormal bone resorption; UAP (ununited anconeal process); Patellar luxation; Achondroplasia; Thyroid disorders.
  • Greyhound - Short spine
  • Irish Wolfhound - Elbow hygroma; Hip dysplasia; Elbow dysplasia; Metabolic bone disease; UAP; Neoplasias.
  • Otterhound - Hip dysplasia (high incidence); Elbow dysplasia.
  • Pharaoh Hound - Medial patellar luxation.
  • Petit Basset griffon Vendeen - Hip dysplasia.
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback - Cervical vertebral deformity; Hip dysplasia; Lumbosacral transitional vertebrae.
  • Saluki - Hip dysplasia.
  • Scottish Deerhound - OCD.
  • Whippet - Toe injuries.


  • Akita - Juvenile Osteoporosis polyarthritis causing pain and fever; Hip dysplasia; Elbow dysplasia; Thyroid disorders.
  • Alaskan Malamute - Hip dysplasia; Chondrodysplasia (dwarfism associated with anemia that produces stunted growth in the forelegs, lateral deviation of the foot, carpal enlargement, bowing of forelegs, and a sloping topline); Polyneuropathy.
  • Bernese Mountain Dog - Hip dysplasia (very high incidence); Elbow dysplasia; Neoplasias.
  • Boxer - Neoplasias; IVD; Cardiomyopathy.
  • Bullmastiff - Hip dysplasia; Elbow dysplasia; Cervical vertebral malformation; UAP.
  • Doberman Pinscher - Wobbler syndrome; Polyostotic fibrous dysplasia; Elbow dysplasia; Neoplasias.
  • Giant Schnauzer - Hip dysplasia (high incidence); OCD; Thyroid disorders.
  • Great Dane - Wobbler syndrome; Stockard's paralysis; Cervical calcinosis circumscripta; OCD; Metabolic bone disease; Elbow dysplasia; Neoplasias.
  • Great Pyrenees - Hip dysplasia; Patellar luxation; Swimmers syndrome; Brittle bone syndrome; UAP.
  • Komondor - Hip dysplasia.
  • Kuvasz - Hip dysplasia.
  • Mastiff - Hip dysplasia; Elbow dysplasia.
  • Newfoundland - Hip dysplasia (high incidence); Elbow dysplasia; UAP.
  • Portuguese Water Dog - Hip dysplasia.
  • Rottweiler - Hip dysplasia (high incidence); Elbow dysplasia; Muscular dystrophy.
  • Saint Bernard - Stockard's paralysis; Neoplasias; Hip dysplasia (high incidence); Metabolic bone disease; Elbow dysplasia; OCD; Wobbler syndrome.
  • Samoyed - Hip dysplasia; Dwarfism; Muscular dystrophy.
  • Siberian Husky - Hip dysplasia.
  • Standard Schnauzer - Hip dysplasia; Thyroid disorders.





Please keep in mind that obese companion animals are predisposed to orthopedic disease. Dietary therapy, increasing exercise and behavioral management are all important in weight management in dogs and cats. Developmental orthopedic disease is a group of musculoskeletal disorders that occur in growing animals (most commonly fast growing, large breed dogs). Osteochondritis dissecans and canine hip dysplasia are the overwhelming majority of the diagnoses in those musculoskeletal problems with a possible nutrition-related etiology. Nutritional management alone will not completely control osteochondrosis or any of the developmental bone diseases. However, osteochondrosis and other developmental orthopedic diseases can be influenced during growth by feeding technique and nutrient profile.

With advancing years a dog may suffer from a variety of conditions of its musculoskeletal system which adversely affect its ability to exercise and may cause it to be retired from activities in work and sport for which it has been trained. Arthritis is common, and in many cases arises from developmental errors suffered in puppyhood, such as hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis and growth plate disorders. Trauma to joints (ligament ruptures, dislocations and fractures) may also be the precursor of degenerative joint changes later in life. It is important, therefore, for all such conditions to be corrected as effectively as possible if joint disease is to be minimised as the dog grows older. Preventive action is also required for some conditions for which correction may not be entirely feasible.



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