Hip and Elbow Scoring

General Services

Hip and Elbow Scoring

The Kennel Club (KC) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) currently operate health schemes for hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia.

The schemes have been developed over more than 30 years, and aim to provide scientifically based expert opinion on these heriditary conditions. The KC/BVA screening programmes help conscientious breeders to identify those dogs that are clinically free of such diseases so that the best possible choices for breeding programmes may be made.

At All Creatures we are able to carry out hip scoring and elbow scoring for your dog. This is vital to prevent these hereditary conditions being passed onto future lines of dogs, if you intend to breed your dog. Over the years, we have had hundreds of dogs xrayed for hip scoring and are very experienced in taking good quality, accurate xrays for this scheme. We offer the service to dog owners thoroughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. When we are advising customers about purchasing a puppy, we normally recommend that they purchase their pup from a breeder who has their breeding stock hip scored - this is especially important when buying a larger breed such as a Labrador, Rottweiler or German Shepherd Dog.


What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition (although sometimes incorrect diet and exercise can play a part) which leads to abnormal development of the hip joint with the result that the ball of the femur (femoral head) does not fit properly into the socket (acetabulum). This creates an unstable hip joint which causes osteoarthritis in the hip joint at an early age. Young dogs between 6-12 months start to get painful hips, stiffness and lameness. Fortunately nowadays there are many successful treatments for hip dysplasia.


Hip scoring at All Creatures

Dogs must be over one year of age to be hip scored. The hip score is measured by taking an xray of the hips under general anaesthesia and then the xray is assessed by a panel of experts at the British Veterinary Association who will give a score ranging from 0 to 106 depending on how good or bad the hips are. A range of 9 different parameters are assessed for each hip when creating the score. The lower the score the better the hips are. An average (or mean) score is calculated for all breeds scored under the scheme and advice for breeders is to use only breeding stock with scores well below the breed mean score. The hip score is then recorded by the Kennel Club on that dog's pedigree and the score will be available to see on any of their pups' pedigrees. It is generally accepted that hip dysplasia is more common in larger breeds, but any dog of any breed can be scored under the scheme - we often see it in breeds as small as Cocker Spaniels.

Dogs must have a microchip or tattoo to be have hip scoring done. The cost of having one dog scored under the Scheme is currently £133.50 - this includes our fee for the anaesthesia and taking the xray (£75) and the BVA fee for scoring the xrays (£58.50). We can provide discounts for multiple dogs done on the same day - if you have a group of friends interested in having their dogs' hips scored then we can arrange for them all to be done on the same day to provide maximum discount.

The breed mean scores can be viewed on the following BVA link:- http://www.bva.co.uk/Canine-Health-Schemes/Hip-Scheme/ 

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What is elbow dysplasia?

Elbow dysplasia is the most common cause of front leg lameness in young large and giant breed dogs such as the German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Basset Hound, Bernese Mountain Dog, English Mastiff, Rottweiler and Doberman. Your dog may have an obvious limp or hold a front leg outwardly from the body while walking or even hold the leg off the ground completely. There are a number of different variations of this condition such as osteochondrosis, fragmentation of the coronoid process, ununited anconeal process and elbow incongruity but basically, the elbow fails to develop in a normal fashion. This results in elbow arthritis at a younger age. At All Creatures, we offer a number of treatments including surgeries to help dogs with elbow dysplasia.


Elbow scoring at All Creatures

Elbow scoring is carried out to assess for the presence of elbow dysplasia in dogs. Both elbows are xrayed and two xray views are taken of each elbow. As with hip scoring the radiographs are sent to the BVA for assessment. The elbows are given scores of 0-3, with the lower the score the better. The highest score of either elbow is taken as the overall score for that dog. Breeders are advised to only breed dogs with scores of 0 or 1. It probably makes most sense to have the hips and elbows radiographs taken at the same time. The cost of carrying out both the hip and elbow scores is currently a BVA fee of £105 PLUS the vet's anaesthesia and xray costs.

More information can be found at http://www.bva.co.uk/Canine-Health-Schemes/Elbow-scheme/  

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