Clinical Signs of Hip Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) in its severest form can be diagnosed by clinical signs, but it usually requires radiographic evidence of hip joint laxity and/or the appearance of osteoarthritis (OA) to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

There is an acute and a severe form of CHD. An affected dog may have one or any combination of the following clinical signs:

Severe (Acute) Form

  • Presentation at five to 12 months of age,
  • Overt pain, lameness, and functional deficits (low exercise tolerance, reluctance to climb stairs),
  • Other signs: audible "click" when walking, increased intertrochanteric width ("points of hips" are wider than normal), thigh muscle atrophy.

Mild (Chronic) Form

  • Clinical signs ranging from none to mild,
  • Mild discomfort and stiffness in geriatric years, 
  • Possible pain and crepitus on range of motion.

Clinical signs by themselves do not necessarily mean that a dog has hip dysplasia, other conditions of the hip or knee can mimic CHD. A radiograph is essential for a more accurate assessment of a dog's hip joint integrity.