Environmental Factors can Affect the Incidence of HD in Dogs


I found this article very interesting as hip dysplasia (HD) is a topic of many dog owners, especially those with large breed dogs or breeds prone to HD. Most often the blame has pointed towards genetics, but this new study published by Science Daily points out that environmental factors may often be the culprit. Randi I. Krontveit’s doctoral research has studied the incidence of HD in four breeds of dog in Norway and examined factors in the environment where the dogs grew up that can have an affect on the number of cases.

A number of environmental factors can affect the incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs.

Here are a few highlights that I found most interesting from this study:

  • “It is particularly during the period from birth to three months that various environmental factors appear to influence the development of this disease.”
  • “Randi I. Krontveit’s research has shown that rapid growth and high body weight in the first year of the puppies’ life did not result in an increased risk of HD. On the contrary, she found that the breed that had the slowest growth rate — the Newfoundland — had the highest incidence of HD (36%). The Irish Wolfhound had the lowest incidence of HD (10%), yet had the fastest rate of growth.”
  • “Puppies born in the spring or summer and at breeders who lived on a farm or small holding, had a lower risk of developing HD.”
  • “The opportunity to exercise daily in parks up until the age of three months reduced the risk of HD, whereas the daily use of steps during the same period increased the risk. Overall, it would appear that daily exercise out in gently undulating terrain up until the age of three months gives a good prognosis when it comes to preventing HD.”
  • “Varied exercise had a positive effect and dogs that exercised on a daily basis on a lead and running free in different types of terrain were free of symptoms longer than dogs that were less active.”

As the owner of two large breed dogs, I am happy that research is underway to help combat this crippling disease. I am also happy that both of my dogs appear to be free of the disease, although neither of them has been formally tested through x-rays. They have always had free access to exercise on gently rolling terrain, as we live in an area called Sewickley Hills, Pennsylvania, known for its rolling hills and countryside.

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