Hip Pain a Bone of Contention for Pedigree Pooches
Lissa Chrtopher :: December 24, 2009 .
THE case for pedigree dog breeders to stop pursuing exaggerated physical traits and focus instead on breeding healthy animals has been strengthened by Australian research published in The Veterinary Journal.
Dog breeds with relatively long bodies for their height were significantly more prone to hip dysplasia, found Taryn Roberts and Associate Professor Paul McGreevy from the University of Sydney faculty of veterinary science. In hip dysplasia the ball joint ''slops'' around in the socket, wearing away cartilage and bone. The condition dooms many dogs to a life of crippling pain and costs owners thousands of dollars in vet bills.
Treatments include hip replacement, about $6000 per hip, stem cell therapy which costs about $5500, and a lifetime of medication. Many dogs with the condition are euthanased.
The hip dysplasia research comes after Pedigree Dogs Exposed, a controversial BBC documentary shown in Australia in September, found many dog breeds in Britain were plagued by health problems that were the result of breeding for extreme physical characteristics, and the mating of closely related dogs. Australian pedigree dog breeders employ many of the same practices and breed standards.
Pedigree dog breeders and show judges had ''inadvertently exacerbated'' the prevalence of hip dysplasia by preferring longer-bodied dogs and enshrining the look in breed standards, Professor McGreevy said. The condition is particularly prevalent in labradors, pugs, dogues de bordeaux, St Bernards, neapolitan mastiffs and basset hounds.
Taller and more square-shaped dogs were less likely to suffer hip dysplasia, he said.