Chronology of Hip Dysplasia Development in a Cohort of 48 Labrador Retrievers Followed for Life


  • Presented in part at the Purina Diet Restriction Symposium, St. Louis, MO, September 20-21, 2002 and at the 36th Annual Veterinary Orthopedic Society Conference, Steamboat Springs, CO, 2009.

  • Research funded by and conducted at Nestle Purina Company, St. Louis, MO.



To determine the chronology of radiographic signs of canine hip dysplasia (CHD), specifically joint laxity and secondary osteoarthritis (OA).

Study Design

Longitudinal cohort study.


Paired littermates, 48 Labrador retrievers.


Conventional, ventrodorsal, hip-extended (HE) radiographs were evaluated yearly for CHD according to the subjective criteria of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). PennHIP screening was performed at 2 years of age to assess joint laxity by distraction index (DI). Histopathologic evaluation of coxofemoral joints was performed at the dogs’ natural end of life.


Coxofemoral subluxation, as identified on the HE radiograph occurred by 2 years of age and not thereafter. Accuracy of OFA-criteria scoring was poor: 55% of dogs scored “normal” at 2 years of age became radiographically dysplastic by the end of life (45% negative predictive value, NPV); 92% of the dogs scored as normal at 2 years of age had histopathologic OA of CHD (8% NPV). The DI predicted all 48 dogs to be susceptible to OA of CHD and 98% had radiographic or histopathologic OA by the end of life.


OFA-criteria score was profoundly influenced by environmental factors, such as diet restriction and age, reducing its value as a selection criterion. DI measurements were not influenced by dietary treatment suggesting higher trait heritability.