Elbow Dysplasia Scheme for dogs

BVA and the Kennel Club Elbow Dysplasia Scheme has been in operation since 1998. 

The scheme screens dogs for abnormalities in the elbow joints. A dog’s radiographs (x-rays) are graded by a panel of veterinary experts based at BVA.

Comprehensive details about Elbow Dysplasia and the Elbow Dysplasia Scheme is provided in the leaflet Elbow dysplasia in dogs (412 KB PDF).

We have recently launched online submissions for the Hip Dysplasia Scheme.

What is Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow Dysplasia (ED) simply means ‘abnormal development of the elbow’. The term includes a number of specific abnormalities that affect different sites within the joint. These cause problems by affecting the growth of the cartilage which forms the surface of the joint or the structures around it.

Elbow Dysplasia has been identified as a significant problem in many breeds. Importantly, the condition appears to be increasing worldwide. It begins in puppyhood, and can affect the dog for the rest of its life.

Dogs in which Elbow Dysplasia caused lameness are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Their lameness makes their condition obvious. However, there are many dogs with subclinical disease that have an increased risk of producing offspring with Elbow Dysplasia. These animals are not obvious and can only be detected by screening.

Common breeds at risk of Elbow Dysplasia

In general, medium and large breed dogs (including medium and large crossbreeds) are considered to be most vulnerable to Elbow Dysplasia, although the condition has been found in some smaller breeds.

Some common breeds at risk are:

What is the Elbow Dysplasia Scheme?

Elbow dysplasia has a strong genetic component and therefore screening of dogs’ elbows by radiography (x-ray) and grading the changes will help breeders to select the most suitable dogs for breeding.

For the scheme to be meaningful and successful it is important that images from every dog radiographed be submitted for grading, whether or not the animal is required for breeding and whatever the state of the elbows, in order to provide the widest possible information for use by geneticists in research studies and for generation of estimated breeding values (EBVs).

The scheme is open to all dogs and not just those registered with the Kennel Club.

Find out more

New - Online submissions

We have recently launched online submissions for the Elbow and Hip Schemes, making them quicker and easier to use.

To make submissions online, please visit our online portal. You can also read the procedure notes (PDF 180 KB) for helpful instructions on using the scheme.

Learn more about the benefits of online submissions from Chief CHS Scrutineer, Dr Jerry Davies, in his recent blog post; Paper not required – submit online to our Canine Health Schemes.

Paper submissions

For those making submissions on paper, please read the Elbow Dysplasia Scheme paper procedure notes (PDF 184 KB).


To submit to the scheme dog owners should contact their veterinary surgeon and arrange an appointment for their dog to be radiographed (x-rayed). The radiographs will usually be taken under anaesthesia or heavy sedation so the dog may have to be left at the veterinary practice. Elbow radiographs can be taken at the same time as those for the CHS Hip Dysplasia Scheme.

When taking the dog for its radiographs owners should remember the following:

  • Any breed of dog can have radiographs submitted to the scheme
  • The dog must be at least one-year-old, but there is no upper age limit
  • The dog must be permanently and uniquely identified by way of a microchip or tattoo
  • The dog’s KC registration certificate and any related transfer certificates must be available so that the appropriate details can be printed on the radiograph
  • The microchip/tattoo numbers will be printed on the radiographs
  • The owner should sign the declaration (first part) of the certificate, to verify the details are correct and grant permission for the use of the results
  • Practices can submit digital DICOM images on CD or DVD for grading
  • Once a certificate for Elbow Dysplasia grading has been issued the dog cannot be resubmitted

Cost of submissions

The owner is liable for their veterinary surgeon’s fee for anaesthetising the dog and taking the radiographs, as well as the CHS’ fee for the grading which are listed below.

The cost is currently reduced if Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia films are submitted for screening at the same time.

Item description Cost ex VAT per dog Cost inc VAT
1 to 4 dogs £55.00 £66.00
Regrading under appeals procedure £100.00 £120.00
Copy of certificate £30.00 £36.00
Joint hip and elbow £100.00 £120.00

Kennel Club Assured Breeders receive a 15% discount when their submissions are made online.

Publication of results

The names of Kennel Club registered dogs graded under the scheme, together with the results of the ED grade, will be sent to the Kennel Club for publication and inclusion on the Mate Select website. Results can be found by entering the registration name or number.

Relevant details may be sent to a geneticist for statistical analysis or creation of estimated breeding values as arranged by BVA.