No Hovawart or other dog is born with hip dysplasia (HD), but genetic disposed dogs can develop HD during their life to a certain degree of severity. New research now shows that factors in the environment play a much larger role in this development of HD than expected.
Randi I. Kronveit, from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, came to this remarkable conclusion in her research. Randi followed the development of HD in 500 dogs from 4 different breeds, the Newfoundland, the Labrador, the Leonberger and the Irish Wolfhound.
Rapid growth does not increase the risk of HD
Findings from previous experiments and studies from other countries have indicated that rapid growth and a high body weight are factors that increase the likelihood of developing HD.
But Randi thinks this is not true:
"On the contrary, we 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."
Daily exercise in the first 3 months prevents HD
Puppies born in spring or summer time, either on farms or with other ample opportunity to exercise during the first three months of their life, had a lower risk of developing HD. But moving up and down stairs is bad. Randi says:
"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."Based on the findings of this doctoral research, preventive measures through exercise during the first 3 months have a huge impact on how HD will develop and how severe it will become. If HD in its most serious forms can be prevented, the quality of life for dogs with HD can be improved tremendously.
Randi I. Krontveit comes from Oslo. She studied mathematics at The University of Oslo and took her Cand.med.vet. degree at The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science in 1998. She has held a post at NVH since 2001, where she also carried out her doctoral research.