How Common This is with the Boxer Breed
The Boxer is prone to this and out of all purebred dogs, falls in the middle in terms of how common this is with the breed. The OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) tracked 172 different breeds over the course of 40 years. Each breed was represented by at least 100 dogs. The OFA then created a list to show the top breeds that are affected by HD.
Out of 172 breeds, the Boxer breed placed at #94. Over that decade long study, 5537 Boxers were evaluated. 3.6 % were deemed to have excellent hips; 11% had varying levels of Hip Dysplasia.
What Causes Hip Dysplasia in Boxer Dogs?
Many wonder, 'Is this genetic?' or 'Is it caused by injury?'... The tricky thing about this condition is that the answer is : Both. It is genetic. (more on this ahead). And injury or stress on the hip(s) can trigger the dysplasia (more ahead)
Breeding, Screening & Grading
Both male and female Boxer dogs should be screened for this before being entered into a breeding program. One should look not just to the dog itself but also to his/her background and family history.
For example, if a dog has moderate to fair hips but both parents and grandparents had strong hips AND at least 75% of his littermates have strong hips, the dog will usually be considered a good candidate for a breeding program.
However, if a dog has strong hips, but there is a history of Hip Dysplasia in his family and/or LESS than 75% of his littermates have good hips, the dog should not be considered for breeding.
Potential puppy buyers should be asking to see a pup's OFA report. Dogs should be given an OFA screening before being bred.
An OFA report is an official hip screening and grading by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Radiographs will be taken and evaluated. This process is done by 3 board certified radiologists who each separately give the dog a 'grade' and then these scores are combined.
There are 3 main categories with sub-categories:
1) Normal -
Hips determined to be normal will then be classified as either 1) Excellent 2) Good or 3) Fair.
2) Borderline -
This means that there is not a clear consensus as to whether the dog should be classified as Normal-Fair or Dysplastic-Mild. If this is the case, hips are usually checked 6 months later to see if there has been any progression.
3) Dysplastic -
This means that a problem with the hips has been found. There are 3 sub-categories: 1) Mild 2) Moderate and 3) Severe.
The 3 Levels of Dysplasia
Mild Hip Dysplasia-
The hip ball will be determined to be partially out of the socket. If the dog is under 30 months of age, he/she can be reevaluated a second time to see if there has been an improvement (rare, but there may be a clearer view that lends to a better grading since the accuracy of this improves as a dog matures) or if it has progressed. The majority of dogs with mild Hip Dysplasia will endure a slow progression with arthritic changes.
Moderate Hip Dysplasia-
This means that it has been determined that there is significant subluxation (the ball is barely in the hip socket). Many dogs will have additional issues that include deterioration/arthritic changes to the femoral bone (thigh bone) and/or ribs. This only progresses with time.
Severe Hip Dysplasia -
With this, the hip joint and socket is completely out of place or very close to it. There will be abnormal bone pattern changes to the ribs and thigh bone(s).
Factors That Can Trigger This
When a dog is already prone to Hip Dysplasia (either is himself graded to be Normal-Fair or Borderline or has a strong family background of this), there are elements that can trigger the hip joint and socket to move out of place and/or degrade. This includes:
• Being overweight
– any excess weight will put more of a strain on a Boxer dog
• Too much excessive exercise before a Boxer puppy enters into adulthood – which causes prolonged stress on the hip
• Injury to the surrounding ligaments
• A faster than average growth rate– which a dog owner has no control over
The Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Boxer Puppies and Dogs
When a Boxer puppy
has hip dysplasia, the puppy will usually begin to show signs as young as 5 to 10 months old. A Boxer dog of any age can be diagnosed with this, as the condition may be very subtle in the dog’s early life and only as the dog grows older will an owner notice the signs:
• Weakness in the limbs, usually in the rear legs and usually after exercising
• Difficulty getting up from a laying position or difficulty walking uphill
• Hopping – Walking by bringing both rear legs up at the same time
• Rising using front legs only and dragging rear end
• Waddling or an unsteady walk with the rear legs
• A very short stride with the rear legs (taking very small steps)
• Unwillingness to jump, exercise, climb stairs or walk uphill