Hip & Elbow X-rays
We guarantee the health of our dogs, especially in regard to hip and elbow dysplasia. The only way to properly diagnose the status of the dog’s hips and elbows is by having them radiographed. By determining the status of a dog’s hips/elbows by radiographs, owners can be made aware of any potential problems their dog may have.
If you have purchased a puppy from us, our Puppy Sale Agreement outlines that the dog must be hip and elbow x-rayed between 12 and 18 months old. We want to give owners peace of mind that they have purchased a healthy, quality dog from us.
We do the very best to provide our puppy owners with healthy dogs with good genetics, so in return we would like them to do their best for the health of their dog.
As with people, dogs have differing pain thresholds, so dogs with hip/elbow dysplasia may not always show signs of it. Obesity, significant over-exercise, stress on growing joints, excessive jumping and a poor diet can create or exacerbate joint problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia. All our puppy buyers are made aware of this before they buy a puppy from us, as factors such as this will void our genetic guarantee.
The only way to accurately assess or to predict the genetics of a breeding program is to x-ray ALL puppies produced – not just the ones used for breeding. Genetics play a significant role in a breeding program, so obtaining accurate knowledge on the puppies a breeder produces is very important. Breeders cannot claim that they have had no issues with hips or elbow dysplasia in their bloodlines, unless all their puppies have been x-rayed.
To get the x-rays done, you will need to go to a vet who is experienced in hip/elbow x-raying. Many breeds have hip/elbow x-raying and scoring as part of a breeding prerequisite, so a good vet will have the ability, knowledge and equipment to do them properly. If your vet is not experienced, best go to one who is. Poor positioning of the dog whilst being x-rayed will not give accurate results. You don’t want to be putting your dog under anaesthetic again if the vet doesn’t do the x-rays correctly the first time! The cost for getting the x-rays done by a vet should not exceed $400.
For Victorian owners, we highly recommend going to Monash Veterinary Clinic, as they are very experienced in x-raying dogs and can diagnose any issues on the spot. They have been a leader in the field of hip dysplasia for 35 years. They give you a good indication of the anatomy of your dog’s hips/elbows, without waiting weeks for results. We are happy to source and recommend any other vets interstate, should you live outside of Melbourne.
Your dog will be anaesthetised and put in the correct position in order to take clear and correctly positioned radiographs.
When you go in for the appointment, you will need to take your dog’s papers (Certificate of Registration & Pedigree), which includes ownership details, the dog’s microchip number (positive ID), its date of birth, registration number and pedigree. When the vet x-rays the dog, the chip number is compared to the papers to ensure correct identication.
You will also need to take the appropriate Radiologist's Grading Form along, so the vet can sign it off.
Radiologist Grading Forms
You can have the x-rays graded either by Dr Rawlinson OR the Australian Veterinary Association.
Dr Rawlinson charges $110 to grade both the hips and elbows. We find that using a consistent scorer is beneficial and more reliable. Dr Rawlinson is very efficient in providing official scores back within a couple of days of receiving a CD of the x-rays or the actual radiographs themselves. Dr Rawlinson accepts cheques as well as electronic funds transfers. Download the Grading Form here.
The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has a longer turn-around time (sometimes up to 6 weeks or more) and costs $84 for both hip and elbows. Download the Grading Form here.
Sending off the x-rays and signed Radiologist Grading Form
Radiographs can sent to the Radiologist on a CD or radiographic films. Monash Veterinary Clinic uses electronic CDs, making them much cheaper to send via Australia Post. For actual radiograph firms, you will need to send them to the grading radiologist in an Australia Post tube.
More information about the x-raying system
Australia uses the same hip grading system as the United Kingdom, where each part of the dog’s left and right hip structure are graded separately.
For more information about how each angle of the hip is graded, please visit Understanding the Scoring System
When displaying our dog’s hip scores we use numbers, for example, 1:2 (left hip 1, right hip 2 = total hip score of 3).
The best score you can get is 0:0 (perfect hips, no hip dysplasia), and the worst score you can get is 53:53 (severe hip dysplasia).
It is important the breeders advertise the actual left and right hip scores and not just include the Australian Grade or International Grade. Some dogs can have one hip that is fine and the other that is dysplasic. It’s therefore important to publish accurate results.
Some radiologists include an “Australian Grade” and an “International Grade” on the results, which makes things easier to compare on an international scale, for example if breeders overseas are interested in the bloodlines.Here is an example of the hip/elbow results.
Below is an example of hip and elbow results
There is no hard and fast rule that determines whether a dog will have pain associated with a moderate or high score. We have seen dogs with very hip scores have no apparent pain or mobility issues. Each case is dealt with individually, depending on the score and the level of pain a dog is displaying.
If a dog has a moderate total hip score (say over 25), supplements can be given so that the arthritis or pain can be lessened or avoided.
Severe hip dysplasia is very painful and is also very expensive to treat – hence why it is so important to breed with animals with good hip/elbow stability, whilst also considering the scores of ancestors.
Hip replacements can cost up to $4000.00 per hip, and require long periods of rehabilitation where dogs must remained confined and carefully partake in hydrotherapy.
As a general rule, breeders should not breed with dogs with hip scores over 10:10 (total of 20) and elbows over 1:1 (preferred elbow score is 0:0).
Highly respected radiologists have recommended that dogs with high hip scores should not be bred with. It is unethical to breed with a dog who has not been x-rayed or has a high hip or elbow score.
There is also another method of hip x-raying, called PennHIP, which is for the early detection of hip dysplasia, in dogs as young as 16 weeks old. Read more about it here.