The fight against hip dysplasia (HD) and other hereditary diseases

German shepherds are a healthy breed. Nevertheless, the “hereditary diseases” problem has also reached their breeding. Hip dysplasia (HD), feared by breeders of all big dog breeds, is a development disorder in the formation of the hip joint socket which only occurs during the growth period. This also applies to elbow dysplasia which has been observed over the past few years. This causes an abnormal development in a certain area of the elbow joint.


Genetic predisposition plays an important role. HD troubles afflict our four-legged friends immensely. Many dogs have, for example, problems when getting up. Other characteristics are a wobbling walk, difficulties in climbing stairs or jumping. It is clear: Genetic predisposition plays a decisive role in the development of these diseases. However, influences due to feeding and rearing are also of importance. Medical treatments with pain relievers or cortisone often have severe side effects. Only an operation can offer real help.


Elbow dysplasia is probably also genetically determined. The results: During growth, a small bone section does not join with the rest of the bone. The result is an instable elbow joint, with related pain right up to lameness. Only an operation will help in this case as well.

Initiatives for combating this issue

The German Shepherd Association (Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (SV)) already took the initiative for the systematic reduction of HD back in 1966. Since 2002, it is also evaluating ED, initiating X-ray checks for the breeding license. This set up a procedure where breeders, veterinarians and the SV Pedigree Office work together. In this procedure, the X-ray photographs of dogs that were at least twelve months old at the time of the examination are initially evaluated. In the central appraisal body at the SV, experts then assess the X-ray images. A final HD and ED report is determined according to the results in the individual points. The Pedigree Office registers this report in the relevant pedigree. Dogs that have been diagnosed with medium or serious HD or ED may not be used for breeding anymore. The pedigree is created and issued by the SV.