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German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia


Hip Dysplasia (Hip Deformity)

Hip Dysplasia is hereditary. Of all the hereditary ailments of German Shepherds, the most common probably still is Hip Dysplasia (but meanwhile less than 1 in 5 dogs is affected). It's painful for your dog, and it's frustrating for yourself too. It can become apparent in adult German Shepherds of any age, often as young as two years.

The disease is orthopaedic in nature and will lead to an abnormal formation of the hip, which then causes looseness in the joints and cartilage damage. The result is another disease, Arthritis (see 8). It can make movements of your GSD much tougher and painful too.

Who Gets Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is a genetic disease that passes down through a specific lineage of dogs. If you have two loose hip dogs mate with each other, the result is often a Hip Dysplasia stricken puppy. Of course, not all dogs with the disease suffer from it or show symptoms, so it can be hard to determine if your new puppy has a heredity even if its parents have been X-rayed and determined healthy.

There are some environmental factors too, including Obesity (see 25) and excessive proteins, vitamins and minerals in food - as is typical for enriched industrial dog food. Items and substances that are designed to make puppies grow faster have been shown to increase the risk of Hip Dysplasia and Arthritis (see 8) as well.

Warning Signs

Hip Dysplasia will be indicated by a drop in energy levels, difficulty in standing or moving and lameness in your dog’s back legs. Your German Shepherd will stop wanting to use stairs, especially when going up, and will rarely want to stand up on its back limbs or jump up on anything. German Shepherds with Hip Dysplasia will start hopping with their back legs when walking, and they will show signs of soreness when they lie down, especially after exercise.

If your German Shepherd shows any of these signs, regardless of its age, get it to the vet for an X-ray as soon as possible.

Treating Hip Dysplasia

The attempts to treat Hip Dysplasia vary depending on the severity of the ailment. The more conservative non-invasive treatments include weight loss, pain medication, the top joint health supplement Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM, the Back and Hip Support Brace, and physical therapy and basic exercise routines to work the hips.

Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM is a clinically researched, freely available joint health supplement with a well over a decade long track record. Vets frequently prescribe it to improve the dog's mobility in cases of Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia (see 3), and Arthritis (see 8). It may also help with Panosteitis (see 7), Hind Leg Weakness (see 13), and Lumbosacral Stenosis (see 15). It has only positive reviews from virtually every dog owner who tried it - which alone makes it an impressive remedy!

Other methods aim to salvage the degenerating hips before they get too worn out by the disease. For example the Bottoms-up Leash, the Walkabout Rear Harness, or the Walkin Lift Harness.

If the disease has grown to become severe, surgery may be indicated. This could mean that the vet can delay or stop the spread of Arthritis too (see 8).

The only real way to know which treatment is best for your German Shepherd when you notice the early warning signs is to visit a vet and have the necessary X-ray and tests done to determine the existence and extent of Hip Dysplasia. The vet will then determine what works best to treat the particular issues of your dog.

In the final stages of Hip Dysplasia - other than putting the dog to sleep - there may be no other option than to provide your German Shepherd with the best dog wheelchair.

If the front legs and elbows are still strong, the fully adjustable and resalable standard Walkin' Wheels will allow your dog to run around with its hind legs in the wheelchair - like thousands of dogs around the world are "comfortably" doing.

However, if your dog's front legs are weak too, then your only chance is to make the investment in a customized quad cart that can support all four legs. You will need to consider this carefully though - not only because of the cost, but because having to use a quad cart puts a lot of stress on your German Shepherd.

Sorry that this topic doesn't end on a happier note, but that's because GSD Hip Dysplasia really isn't a happy thing to have. Neither for your dog, nor for you.

  32 Responses to “German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia”



    I got a GSD from they shelter when he was 7 weeks old, he also had a brother with him. After a few weeks I started noticing something off about his back legs. I have three siberian huskies and thought maybe they are just different. I think of GSD’s as low riders, haha. He will be one on 8/6/13. When I took him to the vet for shots and check ups I ask the vet about it. He said it was all in my head, just being a nervous Mom. Well, a few time he has had what seems to be minor leg spasms. He just had one while jumping on the bed, he does not cry or anything just kind of licks at it and after a few minutes he will come too me. Do you thinks it is hip dysplasia? Thanks


      If it’s the back legs only, it’s unlikely to be Panosteitis, despite age indication. Does he have fever?

      Given the age it started, it’s unlikely to be Posterior Paralysis, although this often is transitory like you describe.
      Same reason for Epilepsy. – But is he restless and pacing before it, and disoriented after it?

      His age also is contraindication for Hip Dysplasia – also you say he’s not in pain, right?
      If it’s anything growth-related, it should stop soon now.

      Based on your limited info, I am puzzled. Good would be to see it…
      I would visit another vet, get a full blood profile, and have him exercise-tested.

      Let me know the outcome!


    my gsd female sits readily after some exercise is it normal? may be two minutes after chasing ball. she is 14 months old.


    is hip dyslasia very painfull? and how can you tell how much pain hes in? ive been giving him baby asparin twice a day and have him on glycosamin?


      Hi Jenny, I wouldn’t put him on standard glycosamin, I would only put them on what I advised above. Makes a HUGE difference, that’s why it costs a bit more.

      Do NOT give him pain killers every day, not good! Instead do all the above to adapt his life. How old is he?


    My GSD SDit who will be 5 months old on the 29th has something wrong with his rear left leg or hip. Last night he kept picking it up while we were training and kicking it like it was bothering him. Today he was playing with my friends doberman in the yard and started crying in agony and couldn’t move his leg. It scared me and I started to call my vet which was on vacation. I didn’t know what to do but he slowly calmed down and stood up and slowly started to put more weight on it. He is walking almost normal but if I start trying to touch his leg and check the range of motion he won’t let me and he bites my hand but not hard. I hope he doesn’t have hip dysphasia and he shouldn’t for the amount of money I paid for him. What should I do? Can I give him some pain medicine? What should I give him until he can go to the vet tomm?


      Aaron, does he have fever as well? Did the pain START at the rear leg/hip?
      If yes, then no, it hopefully is “just” Panosteitis. In this case, all you can do is give good dog pain killer (which you probably don’t have at home if you are not a member here and thus haven’t prepared our recommended first-aid kit…!).
      If no, then yes, it likely is more severe/long-lasting!
      The pain is contraindication for Paralysis. However, his age is contraindication for Hip Dysplasia!
      Then it could be an allergic reaction to tick bites or mites, although I doubt it in your case.
      Even if one vet is on holiday, I would just have your dog seen by another vet! Why not? Time may be of the essence.
      Pl do get back here to report what his diagnosis was, okay? I may then have more input.
      If you doubt one vet’s diagnosis, get a second opinion in any case.


    Hello i have a 5 year old german GSD recently she started to slow down in activity and is very slow getting up we took her to the vet twice they told us she had a fever and gave us pills and now its 2 months later and she still low in energy and not as playful as she use to be she shows signs of still waiting to play but doesnt even run full speed anymore


      Steve, you posted your comment under Hip Dysplasia. Is it safe to assume that you suspect she has it? But the vet didn’t diagnose it, right?
      – the fever may have come from tick bite, which CAN lead to long-term lameness (from a disease)
      – how does her stool look?
      – how’s her appetite?
      5 years unfortunately is the age where often (not always) Hip Dysplasia sets in.
      If the vet hasn’t diagnosed ANYTHING since the fever, then I would try a package of Nutramax with MSM and see how she does with it. A bit pricey, but WAY better than all alternatives I know of!

      Let me know how it goes, okay?


    You asked how the stool looked in Steve C’s case…. Can you give a run down of what to look for, as far as the stool is concerned? also, the water bowl he drinks has algae and mold-looking things all over it…. would that do anything to slow my old guy down? thanks.


      No I can’t as stool looks have nothing to do with Hip Dysplasia – where we are here. Wrong question placement ruins our site’s structure, which – search engine-wise alone – is very bad, sorry, sure you understand.
      Re/ the state of the water bowl: Why??


    I have a 1year old black GSD Male, who suddenly started limping on his right hind leg, seemed to have difficulty standing up etc, it started after i started running him, about 3km every night in week three the pain started.
    I took him to the vet and they said it looked as though it was Panosteitis, he was put on a week course of anti-inflammatory tablets and it became better, i rested him in that period, i have since continued to run him, up to 8km at a time (walk run) he seems fine, this has been for a month and a bit now, tonight i saw him dragging his back leg on the ground in a stretching manner
    The only way to know for sure if its dysplacia is Xrays?


      It is not Dysplasia, he’s too young for any symptoms to show. I too thought it is Panosteitis, but reading on I realize you may push him too much for his age. Further, we’ve said often: Don’t push your GSD to the limit every day, provide a rest day after heavy exercise.
      An 8km run (probably you on the bicycle) I’d consider heavy exercise.


    I have a 10 months old GSD. He once slipped from the stairs ( 2 3 stairs only). Had very severe pain in one of his rear legs. I took him to the vet and he said its nothing just pain from being hit and gave some pain killers. Then after 2 3 days he started behaving normal except that he found it difficult to stand up often dragging his rear legs. Soon that difficulty became less and less. And everything was going ok, when one day he tried to run(he was running fine before this incident) and had pain on his leg n limped. I took him to vet next day and did an xx ray. The doctor said he has dislepsia. The doctor prescribed a medicine know “Pet Joint” ( I m from India) and to stop all physical activities of him. He has been on this for 15 days and atleast doesn’t have any pain now. But I want to get him rid of this. How is it possible?


      Is not possible Saransh, sorry. I am frank, is better for you.
      I assume your doc meant your German Shepherd has Hip Dysplasia (he x-rayed him).
      In such case, sadly, you can be very lucky/happy to have been prescribed something that seems to work well for your dog (“Pet Joint”). I’d be very interested to get a bit more detail from you WHAT exact remedy it is (ingredients)?
      We usually recommend Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM in such cases because we know how well it works. Your’s sounds like it could be a cheaper generic? Hence I am very interested.

      HOWEVER, Hip Dysplasia is unlikely to be the cause of your dog’s CURRENT pain (he’s too young for symptoms to show). I strongly suggest you see another vet for his opinion because I suspect that your dog’s fall (down the stairs) has had some yet undiagnosed impact!

      The sooner you address the cause (rather than just the symptom, the pain), the better for your dog. It could be anything: ligament rupture, torn muscle, dislocated joint, inner bleeding that caused infection, etc. See a local vet please. Then let me know, about the medicine too?


    Dear sir/mam
    I have two GSD puppies and they are almost 4 months old. One of my dog both back legs are weak and cant walk like a normal dog. She also cant walk with her paws. And her weight is abt 6 kgs. Is she suffering from HD. Please tell me the cure for her


    Sir I have a ten months old gsd.. his back legs starts paining suddenly from last months I show many vets but 1 of them told that it’s hips dysplasia… So I wnat to ask would my dog ll coverr it?? Or he would.remain lyk dis for his life.. and one of them was saying apply anabolic steroids on him so should I do???? Plss do reply as soon as possible


      Lovenish, DON’T apply anabolic steroids, that is terrible advice from that person. Also, like I wrote earlier, with a dog of 10m not even x-ray can reliably diagnose hip dysplasia. Did the vet x-ray at all?

      Also note that a pup that is lurking and limping does not necessarily have any pain at all (eg Posterior Paresis). What makes you believe that your GSD is in pain?

      3) When the limping(?) started, was there anything going on, any incidence that may have caused it?

      4) “from last month” – so, for a week? Has it deteriorated? Is it permanent? Does the pup eat? Drink a lot? Spring in his step or lethargic? What do you feed? etc etc

      It is impossible to assess a dog based on the bit of info you provided, surely you’ll understand that.


    Sir It’s pain only as it started in august only as I was taking him park daily from his 3 months of age only but from 15aug I stopped his park as I was out of station but when I continue his park so his pain start.. nothing else hapned smtym he slips also while bathing not that much issue It’s permanent from last to.last month.. he springs one of his leg.. little lethargic as when someone comes at home he never get attentive he eats well no over drinking in morning I give him Brown bread and milk with (petatb and megaflex) and in evening chapati and boil eggs. Can you please help me out of this I m.getting frustrated while watching him like dis… If possible give me ur id u ll send u his walking video.. and pics…


      I don’t understand a word you’re saying. And I have already given you loads of ideas to think about, I would do just that.
      Besides, pl understand that we are extremely busy with helping our members – which you aren’t.
      But one more point: I suggest you immediately stop feeding your dog that 100% human food. Given that, possibly all is down to his diet alone.
      I am now actually wondering if your message is serious or spammer fun – which we are getting more than enough already.


    I have a 2 year old male GSD that has had hip surgery and is now pain free and very active. My question, a friend has a female that has not shown any hip problems. Is it safe to breed them?


      OMG, why would you? We are trying to rid GSDs of hip dysplasia, not to perpetuate the issue.
      No, I wouldn’t breed them. Of course not.

      You asked me, so pl accept my answer, even though you don’t like it


    I have a 5 month old male GSD he is fine in all aspect except he cannot go up and down stairs. When he was young he could go up stairs he has never been able to go down stairs. The part of not going up steps as gotten worse in the last 2 weeks. He walks and runs just fine and plays with the other two GSD that we own. He is not sore to the touch he stands on his back two legs when he is baby gated in the kitchen and he is not over weight. He is current on all shots.


    We rescued a female GSD when she was 8 months old … she will be 5 years old in August, 2014. She has always had an amazing ball/toy drive, insatiable in her desire to play. Last Wednesday my husband took her and her miscellaneous toys & chuckers our to play with my grandson. Everything seemed normal, he brought her back to the house. He left the house for a couple of hours and when he returned she did not greet him at the door, she was in our spare bedroom laying on the bed. He could not get her to get down … which is how she acts if she has gotten into something she shouldn’t have but he couldn’t find any evidence of mischief. Since that day she will not jump up on our bed or the sofa and while she will walk around with a ball in her mouth once in a while, the drive is gone. He took her out to play and she would but she whimpered when she brought the ball back. It appears to be her right hip which she will not lie on. My daughter even brought over Sadie’s (GSD) best friend, her black, Miley. Miley has tried to coax her to play and she will start to but she will go lay down. We did not see any injury and this was a VERY sudden onset. Is this how dysplasia presents itself? Thanks.


      Huuh, first I was worried you’d continue the story with sth else. Glad nothing happened with the grandson! Do NOT leave your dog alone with the child, I have extensively explained in our Periodicals why.

      Now on to HD: Obviously, without seeing the dog, I can’t make a diagnosis. But I can say this:
      – 5 years of age: typical for onset of Hip Dysplasia
      – Sudden onset: Yes, sometimes. It’s not always coming slowly
      – Apparently you have not yet been to the vet. I suggest you do that immediately because the sooner you treat the dog right, the better his life quality will be – whether or not it is HD!
      – Have you seen the chapter on HD in the MYGERMANSHEPHERD Health Manual (updated)?
      – Please do not push the dog to anything now. Remember, Play must be FUN, and if it isn’t, don’t push the dog.
      – Please get back to me with the vet’s diagnosis, and we will see from there what we should do for your dog.


    I have a 3 year old shepherd mix, ruby, who i picked up from the shelter when she was aged 2 months. Lately when we take her on walks she will have a limp in her back leg for a day or so. This last time she has been limping her back right leg for a week now. Ive examined it multiple times and it seems fine. She didnt fall or anything during the walk. I think im going to take her to the vet this tuesday but it sounds like this might be the issue.


    I have a 105 pound shepard….Possibly an anatolian shepard….He is about 5 years old….About 6 months ago while playing he yelped and walked around very gingerly for some time….

    He did get better…..then a while later,same thing….Out of nowhere,simply playing or running,all is fine….Then wham!! He yelps and immidietley sits down.

    Things have been good for 6 months or so and then about 4 days ago,same thing….He was x rayed sometime ago the first time he did this I took him to the vet….His hip bone that went into the socket was not perfectly round and I was told he would have problems…

    It sucks!! We all get old and eventually we all wear out 100 percent of the time…

    Since the first time I have been giving him glucosimine and chondroitin but not full time.I will be keeping him on it full time now…

    Sad part is just trying to keep the little guy from playing and running at his normal 110 percent!!

    Also I have cut his 4 cups a day of dog food down to 3 as weight loss will help,I dont over feed him and keep him very active as his size is not overweight,just his breed size…

    So hopefully I can continue the glucosimine and chondroitin for his joints,help him lose some weight and try to keep his activity down to a low roar…

    Dont be to sad about your dog,just be glad your dog is loved and has an owner that cares about them!!!

    Its not the end of the world!Cheer up:)


      Sorry to hear of your dog’s joint problems Jawn. The thing is, there actually is a SO MUCH better remedy than the standard Glucosamine and Chondroitin remedies that we have countless members who wouldn’t give their dog anything else since they tried it. Only problem: It costs much more too. With joint problems the old adage really rings true: Quality has its price.

      I do mention this miracle remedy above (and in all my books), not because it costs a lot but because I am thrilled by its effectiveness myself: Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM. I cannot fully explain medically (and maybe no one can) why its effectiveness is above and beyond any other remedy, but fact is that countless dogs even at advanced stage of HD, ED, and Arthritis have regained their mobility once this was administered for a few weeks. Like I say: miracle supplement. Thinking of it, I can’t recall any other supplement or indeed drug that I’d give that title.

      Mobility for dogs like all the Shepherd breeds (Anatolian, German, Belgian etc) is so important that I always suggest: Try one bottle (3 months) and if you’re thrilled you’ll stick with it, and if not, you know you’ve at least tried the best. Personally I just can’t live with the thought I haven’t even tried.


    Hi I have a 17 week old GSD I had bought him when he was 8 weeks old, and I took him to the vet got him wormed…ect but I can’t keep wait on him, he eats like a cow but his ribs still show, and a couple of weeks ago he started limping on his back left leg and when he sits he puts all his weight to his right leg. Everyone is telling me it’s hip dysplasia and to get rid of him because it will be thousands to treat it. But I can not do that, he is apart of our family. I just thought he is to young to have that sort of problem?


      This is the end of MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG
      There is no money left to answer questions for free as has been happening over the last years. Next to no one showed gratitude anyway, so no one will miss it.

      ENJOY your dog – life is terribly short, I can tell ya!

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