Inherited Diseases

Hip Dysplacia

Hip Dysplacia is the malformation of the hip joint which can lead to severe lameness, unfortunately not all dogs with H.D. will show signs of lameness and may appear perfectly fit / normal. X-rays are the only way to be certain that H.D. is present. The KC/BVA run a scoring scheme which assesses and scores the Hip X-ray plates. The current scheme has been running since 1965 following on from a scheme initiated by the Alsatian League of UK.

The Assessors look at 9 points of the hip joint and score each place from 0 (the best) to 6 (the worst). These places include the shape of the ball (the head of the femur) the shape of the socket it fits into, and how it fits together. A separate score is given for each hip, from
0 - 53 with a total of 106.

An average score for each breed is produced, the average for the German Shepherd is about 19 (the total of both hips) at present. Hip Dysplacia is an inherited trait which scientists have shown can be controlled within a breed by selective breeding. By only breeding from animals who are better than or, at worst, close to the average score improvements can be made.

The X-rays are taken at by the vet and submitted with the necessary form to the British Veterinary Association where it is 'scored' by a panel of judges. After scoring the X-ray is returned to the vet who passes on the score to the owner. A copy is sent to the Kennel Club for recording on the registration database and is published in the Breed Records Supplement.

Elbow Dysplacia

The BVA/KC Elbow Dysplacia Scheme was launched in 1998. Elbow dysplasia means the abnormal development elbow joint, which can lead to lameness. The elbow X-rays are assessed and scored on a scale of 0 - 3 (0 being the best 3 being the worst) and highest grade of the two elbows is given as the grade for that dog. Dogs must be at least 1 year old to be scored and it is advised to only breed from animals with a score of 0 or 1.

Free, detailed information leaflets on these two schemes are available from - Information, The Kennel Club, 1-5 Clarges Street, Piccadilly, London, W1J 8AB or the Canine Health Schemes Dept., B.V.A., 7 Mansfield Street, London, W1G 9NQ or at

For Further Information: E Mail:
Telephone: + 44 (0) 1207 282801 (Secretary)
Telephone: + 44 (0) 1207 545219 (Chairman)