Hip Dysplasia Scheme for dogs

The Hip Dysplasia Scheme was established by BVA and the Kennel Club in 1965 to reduce the incidence and severity of the condition which can have serious effects on the health, behaviour and welfare of dogs. The Scheme has screened more than 250,000 dogs from over 75 breeds for hip dysplasia.

The Scheme uses radiology to screen for abnormalities in the hip joints. The radiographs are scored by BVA appointed Scrutineers. This score can then be used by breeders to help ensure they are breeding from healthy dogs and as a health check by owners and their veterinary surgeons.

The Scheme is open to all dogs and breeds including crossbreeds and non-Kennel Club registered dogs.

What is canine hip dysplasia?

Canine hip dysplasia is a common inherited orthopaedic problem where abnormalities occur in the hip joints.

Changes to the hip joint will begin at a young age as the puppy starts to become more active and will escalate with time. These changes can lead to excessive wear and tear of the joint, causing one or both hip joints to become defective. At this stage the joint(s) may be painful and can have serious effects on the health, behaviour and welfare of the dog.

pelvis hip joint

hip joint normal hip joint with dysplasia hip dysplasia  arthritis

Signs of canine hip dysplasia

Signs of hip dysplasia in dogs vary between individuals and breeds. Some observable signs include:

  • Lameness
  • Stiffness after rest
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Groaning while resting or getting up
  • Difficulty in using the stairs

However, a veterinary surgeon’s physical examination will provide a more reliable assessment and radiography is the only means of diagnosing the presence of hip dysplasia.

Treatment 

It is possible to alleviate some of the signs of pain and limitation of movement caused by hip dysplasia. Sophisticated medications and various surgical procedures are now available. Applied heat, massage, good bedding, exercise and weight management as well as nutrition and physiotherapy also play a part in caring for a dog affected by hip dysplasia. 

Common breeds at risk

Hip dysplasia affects a range of breeds including crossbreeds.

Common breeds at risk of hip dysplasia are:

Many other breeds suffer from hip dysplasia, visit the Kennel Club Breed Information Centre for further information.

    • For vets
    • For dog breeders
    • For dog owners

    For vets

    The Hip Dysplasia Scheme

    The Hip Dysplasia Scheme uses radiology to screen for abnormalities in the hip joints. The radiographs are scored by BVA appointed Scrutineers for any anatomical and pathological changes indicative of hip dysplasia and a score is recorded. This score, and its relation to the breed median score, is intended to assist dog breeders in their selection of breeding stock.  

    The Scheme also allows dog owners to check the status of their dog so that future management can be optimised e.g. with respect to diet/weight and exercise and to flag the potential for degenerative problems in later life.

    The Scheme is open to all dogs and breeds including crossbreeds and non-Kennel Club registered dogs.

    Download our leaflet on hip dysplasia in dogs (749 KB PDF) for more information on the condition and the scheme.

    Procedure and submission information

    You can now make submissions to the Hip Dysplasia Scheme online. Find out about the benefits of online submissions from Chief Scrutineer Dr Jerry Davies, in his recent blog post; Paper not required – submit online to our Canine Health Schemes.

    For those making online submissions to the Hip Dysplasia Scheme, please follow our procedure notes (108 KB PDF).

    For further information on the online portal, please watch our "how to make an online submission to the BVA Canine Health Schemes" video.

    For those making submissions on paper, please read the Hip Dysplasia Scheme paper procedure notes (180 KB PDF).

    Submit online to the Hip and Elbow Schemes

    Positioning

    To ensure correct positioning please watch our comprehensive how-to guide for radiographic positioning for the Hip Dysplasia Scheme.

    Cost of submission

    See cost of submissions and offers for a full breakdown including a reduced fee when submitting to both the hip and elbow dysplasia schemes. Kennel Club Assured Breeders receive a 15% discount when their submissions are made online.

    The average turnaround time for a hip dysplasia submission is 4 weeks.

    Results

    Results of scoring will be automatically sent to the submitting vet in the form of a completed certificate. For online submissions, these can be found under the “My Certificates” tab in the online portal. For further guidance, please refer to the "how-to" video on the BVA YouTube channel. For paper submissions, the certificates will be returned in the post.

    The names of Kennel Club registered dogs scored under the scheme, together with the results of the hip dysplasia score, will be sent to the Kennel Club for publication and inclusion on the relevant documents.

    Understanding the results

    Responsible breeders should select their breeding stock (both dogs and bitches) only from animals with hip scores below the breed median score (114 KB PDF).

    More information on the scoring process can be found in Ruth Dennis’ article in Companion Animal Practice.

    Breed specific statistics

    The breed specific statistics (114 KB PDF) include the breed median for the last 15 and 5 years and the rolling 5 year median, which are calculated from the scoring records of each breed to give a representative overview of the hip dysplasia status of the dogs scored in that breed. Breeders should compare their dogs’ score to the 5 year median.

    The breed median

    The breed median score (114 KB PDF) is calculated from all the scores recorded for that breed over the previous 5 years. It represents the hip of the average dog in that breed and dogs with scores which are lower than the median have better than average hips for that breed. The 5 year breed media can be found in breed specific statistics.

    Estimated Breeding Values

    The Kennel Club has developed Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), a resource that allows breeders to estimate a dog’s genetic risk of developing either hip or elbow dysplasia.

    Further information

    For dog breeders

    The Hip Dysplasia Scheme

    The Scheme uses radiology to screen for abnormalities in the hip joints. The radiographs are scored by an expert panel of veterinary surgeons otherwise known as Scrutineers. The scores can then be compared to the Breed Specific Statistics (114 KB PDF), allowing breeders to make informed decisions in regard to their breeding programme.

    Download our leaflet on hip dysplasia in dogs (749 KB PDF) for more information on the condition and the scheme.

    Making a submission

    1. Contact your veterinary surgeon and arrange an appointment for your dog to be radiographed (x-rayed).
    2. The radiographs must be taken under anaesthesia or heavy sedation which means that the dog may have to be left for a short time at the veterinary practice. (Hip radiographs can be taken at the same time as those for the Elbow Dysplasia Scheme.) 
    3. Once the radiographs have been taken, your veterinary surgeon will submit (112 KB PDF) the details, radiographs and fee to BVA.
    4. The radiographs will be scored by our expert panel of scrutineers.
    5. The results certificate will be returned to your veterinary surgeon and passed on to yourself.
    6. If your dog is registered with the Kennel Club, the results will also be published on the Kennel Club website.

    The average turnaround time for a hip dysplasia submission is 4 weeks. Please note only veterinary surgeons can make submissions to the scheme.

    We cannot give Hip or Elbow scores to owners directly, please contact your veterinary practice with any queries or for your dog’s submission results.

    Requirements

    • The dog must be at least 1 year old.
    • The dog must be permanently and uniquely identified by way of a microchip.
    • If applicable, the dog’s Kennel Club registration certificate and any related transfer certificates must be available so that the appropriate details can be printed on the radiographs.

    Cost of submission

    See cost of submissions and offers for a full breakdown including a reduced fee when submitting to both the hip and elbow dysplasia schemes. Kennel Club Assured Breeders receive a 15% discount when their submissions are made online.

    The results

    Once your dog has been scored, a completed certificate (96 KB PDF) detailing the hip scores will be sent back to your veterinary surgeon.

    Hip scoring should be considered along with other criteria as part of a responsible breeding programme, and breeders should choose breeding stock with hip scores ideally around or below the breed median (114 KB PDF).

    Interpreting and using the results

    The hip score (the score shown highlighted in this certificate) is made up of the total number of points given for different features in the hip joint. The lower the score the better. The minimum score for each hip is 0 and the maximum is 53, giving a range for the total score of 0 to 106. It is this total score that should be compared to the breed median.  

    Learn more about the scoring process and how to use the score in Ruth Dennis’ article in Companion Animal Practice.

    The breed median

    The breed median score (114 KB PDF) is calculated from all the scores recorded for that breed over the previous 5 years. It represents the hip of the average dog in that breed and dogs with scores which are lower than the median have better than average hips for that breed. Breeders should compare their dogs’ score to the median.

    Estimated Breeding Values

    The Kennel Club has developed Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), a resource that allows breeders to estimate a dog’s genetic risk of developing either hip or elbow dysplasia.

    Publication of results

    The results of Kennel Club registered dogs scored under the scheme 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.

    Appeals

    Once a score has been given for a dog, the radiograph cannot be resubmitted; however, owners have the right to appeal which takes the form of a re-appraisal of the original radiograph.

    Further information

    For dog owners

    The Hip Dysplasia Scheme

    The Hip Dysplasia Scheme uses x-rays to identify abnormal growth in the hip joint. The images are then reviewed and scored by the expert panel of veterinary surgeons. The scores can then be compared to the Breed Specific Statistics (114 KB PDF) helping breeders to ensure they only breed from healthy dogs.

    Owners can also make submissions to the scheme in order to check the health status of their dogs so that future management can be optimised e.g. with respect to diet/weight and exercise and to flag the potential for degenerative problems in later life.

    What does the hip score mean?

    If you are looking to purchase a puppy that is from a breed that may be at risk of hip dysplasia, it is very important that you see the parents’ results for hip dysplasia screening before you commit to buying the puppy. You can use The Puppy Contract to aid you in asking all the right questions.

    The certificate (96 KB PDF) will show a hip score. The lower the score the better, a score can range from 0 to 106. We recommend that breeders should strive to breed from a dog with a score below the breed median. 

    How to screen my dog for hip dysplasia

    For information on how to get your dog tested for hip dysplasia via the Canine Health Schemes, please see the process below.

    1. Contact your veterinary surgeon and arrange for your dog to be x-rayed as part of the CHS Hip Dysplasia Scheme.
    2. Your veterinary surgeon will then submit (108 KB PDF) the x-rays and relevant information to BVA.
    3. Expert veterinary surgeon appointed by BVA will score the x-rays.
    4. The results will be returned to your veterinary surgeon and passed on to yourself.
    5. If your dog is registered with the Kennel Club, the results will also be published on the Kennel Club website.

    See cost of submissions and offers for a full breakdown including a reduced fee when submitting to both the Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Schemes and a reduced rate for Kennel Club Assured Breeders.

    Further information