Hello German Shepherd puppies lovers:
This is Dr. Banfe. In this blog post I would like to help you with one of the most ubiquitous concerns for German Shepherd breeders and owners, hip health. First of all, according to the OFA, hip dysplasia for dogs breeds range from 72% for the bulldog to 0% for the Italian greyhound. In the US the German Shepherd used to be a poster child for dysplasia. But recognition of the problem has led to a marked decrease in this problem in the breed. Currently the German Shepherd is at 19% (number 40 of all breeds listed). This means that your German Shepherd puppy in the US has a 19% chance of having bad hips.
Good news is that the Germans, with their rigorous systemic approach have reduced hip dysplasia to less than 10% – I have heard as low as 7%. So getting German lines will dramatically reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia in your German shepherd. You see, the Americans do not require dogs which are bred to have had hip xrays and certifications. The AKC does not keep any records of a dog’s health. However the SV in Germany requires hip certifications and accurate records are kept in order to sanitize the gene pool of this crippling condition. And, they have a central orthopedic clearinghouse for just German Shepherd hip xrays, a specific group which has the responsibility for supervising the review of hip xrays and certifications. Whereas, from what I understand, the OFA handles all breeds and rotates xrays out to any orthopedic veterinary expert who is currently working within the OFA system around the country. So the German system leads to more consistency.
Years ago the Germans also instituted the ZW system on top of the HD and ED (elbow) system. This statistic reflects the probability of that a dog will pass hip dysplasia on to its progeny. Although in Germany I have heard reports of cheating to improve these stats for a specific dog, such as not reporting puppies which had the condition, overall the rigorous German approach to hip dysplasia has been quite effective. A good rating would be less than 100. But for certain the sum total of a pairing should not equal more than 200. For example, my new female Ussa vom Suentelstein has a ZW of 80 and my Parla vom Fiemereck has a ZW of 74. So they have low probability of passing bad joints to their progeny. They could be matched with a male of over 100, although we never would.
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In the next blog post, I will discuss your German shepherds puppies’ hips, some do’s and don’ts and some timing issues regarding formation of the hips.