Will Your Elkhound Develop
Hip Dysplasia?

In Norwegian Elkhounds the OFA reports indicate a 22 % incidence of canine hip dysplasia. Most breeders and researchers realize the inaccuracy of this statement because OFA statistics are based solely on the x-rays which are actually submitted. Very few owners or breeders will go to the added expen$e of submitting an x-ray when it is already obvious that the dog is affected with the disease.

For this reason, it is evident that the OFA report can not and does not show the whole picture. Considering also the large number of dogs who are never radiographed, the percentage is probably much higher.

In fact, in our discussions with veternarians who are skilled at, and who recommend the alternate registry of PennHIP, we have been told that whatever percentage the OFA reports, it would not be out of reason to
that number!
Now! THAT'S scary!!
The elkhound's structure often allows a dog  to be
with hip dysplasia withOUT showing any
symptoms. Many elkhounds live long, painfree lives with terrible looking x-rays simply due to the strength of the muscles which are holding the joints in place.

But, regardless of this fact, NO breeder WANTS to produce a dysplastic dog.

There ARE breeders, who, while claiming to be responsible guardians of the breed, do NOT bother to x-ray and do not feel it is important...but MOST conscientious breeders ALWAYS obtain a clear x-ray on all breeding stock, prior to any breedings.

This does NOT, however, insure that the product of breeding these "clear" parents will be all "clear" puppies.

In fact, generations of good hips to good hips may still produce dysplastic offspring.

It's a fact of life in the dog world. It happens. We are dealing with animals, with Mother Nature, with unknown genetic "forces"....we need to do the very best we know how with what we have and deal with the results.
Now, let's add another wrinkle. Some studies suggest that  ALL HIP DYSPLASIA MAY NOT  BE HEREDITARY!!

Many researchers and breeders are of the opinion that it is ALWAYS hereditary, that there is at least a hereditary PREDISPOSITION to "acquiring" the disease. For each person who states that some HD is caused by puppy injuries, there are two more that will adamately insist that if it weren't for the "genetic predisposition" an injury wouldn't be ABLE to cause the dog to develop a hip problem.
The opinions of many researchers are, that as well as injuries, hip dysplasia can also be caused by overfeeding and improper nutrition, or by forcing a puppy to exercise too strenuously before it's bones have strengthened and stopped growing.
But, one thing remains constant....
Once the dog has it...it HAS it!

But, is there anything that can be done to PREVENT it?...or to keep hip problems from crippling your dog?
There are some recommendations. These are the thoughts of other breeders, researchers and veterinarians that we have spoken to or read from over the years. We do NOT state herein that any of these recommendations are going to prevent hip dysplasia in any dog. Please take them for what they are.....possible solutions that others
have worked for them....preventative measures that may or may not work for you and
First, it is always recommended that puppies NOT be overfed, and NOT be FORCED to exercise.
If you are concerned about HD in your dog there are some things the experts  feel MAY help.

Keep your puppy lean and growing slowly. NOT SKINNY.....LEAN!

Do not allow a puppy to eat all he wants. A fat puppy is in danger of developing HD. Extra poundage can do the  same thing to his body that it can do to ours. Just as extra weight puts stress on our joints and can cause pain, arthritis and lack of energy, a growing puppy's joints can't develop properly if he is carrying around a heavier load than they were designed for.

The pounding of young, growing limbs, especially on hard surfaces, can cause injury which may later show up as dysplasia on an x-ray.


Jumping a young dog,  prior to the age of one year, can cause damage to the shoulders, hips, elbows and other joints. While we advocate obedience training all elkhounds to some degree, serious jump training should be left until the dogs joints have had time to mature to prevent injury.
Some breeders recommend a supplement schedule that MAY help. You may wish to try it because it certainly won't hurt.

At the age of 12 weeks many breeders start their puppies on Vitamin C and Soy-Lethicin granules. The regimen is started with 250 mg. of Vitamin C and 1 teaspoon granules and is increased over a course of a couple of weeks to 500 mg. of Vitamin C, and 1 Tablespoon of the Soy-Lethicin. Some puppies will experience a looser stool because of the Vitamin C, and you may need to back off and go slowly with it. Any C, including the most inexpensive, is acceptable. Dogs prefer the chewables, but experience dictates that the better they taste the more likely they are to cause digestive problems.

Most puppies will eat these additives in their food, although you may wish to cut up or crush the Vitamin C.
It is further recommended that the dog have these supplements until the age of 2 years.
We stress that there is NEVER any guarantee that hip dysplasia will not occur.
And we feel we must add, that in OUR opinion, better progress can be made to tighten and strengthen the hips of the breed overall by using the more accurate measurement method of PennHIP rather than the "opinion" ( a.k.a "guess") method of the OFA.

PennHIP's system of measuring hip joint laxity can be utilized as young as 4 months, rather than waiting until a dog is 2 YEARS old to evaluate it's hips.
While PennHIP does not "pass" or "fail", (and many breeders are loyal to this OFA method), PennHIP can project the likelihood of FUTURE problems, thus giving the breeder invaluable information for their breeding program, and giving the pet owner the opportunity to plan lifestyle adjustments to minimize expression of HD, if necessary.

Just as preliminary (prior to age 2) OFA x-rays may change and a youngster with excellent hips may not fare so well as an adult...PennHIPing a 4 month old can result in hips that will be worse later on. However, the incidence of change is relatively small. We recommend PennHIPing AFTER 6 months....preferrably at around one year of age.

For breeders wishing to choose the best hips for their breeding program, a 16 wk evaluation can be an invaluable early tool. However, it is advised to re-check those pups at one year, as there is an estimated 10% that will change.

We have used both methods with our dogs, but our feeling is that PennHIP gives us more precise knowledge of the true status of our dog's hips.

We do not stipulate that all pet owners MUST x-ray their dogs hips. Although we would naturally like to know the condition of the hips of each puppy we breed, we have left this a personal choice.

We also leave the choice of using the OFA or PennHIP up to each individual puppy family.

However, anyone interested in PennHIP information we strongly suggest they call ICG at 1-800-248-8099 and ask to speak to someone about finding a veterinarian to consult in their area, or go to the PennHIP website at:

(click here)

PennHIP website
For OFA information go to the link provided below:
We hope you have found this article to be informative and we thank you for visiting our site.

Richard and Susan Hamilton
Alpha Norwegian Elkhounds
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