In humans, delayed ossification of the caput femoris is often seen associated with hip dysplasia in babies. This phenomenon may possibly exist in dogs. In this study, the radiographic appearance of the caput femoris of 13 German shepherd dogs was examined. The dogs underwent pelvic radiography at the age of 14 to 15 days, six weeks, and 12 months. A significant relationship was shown between hip dysplasia and the late appearance of the epiphysis of the caput femoris (P=0–02). At the age of 14 to 15 days it was not possible to see both epiphyses in 54 per cent of the dogs. All of these dogs had hip dysplasia when they were 12 months old. This was in contrast to the six dogs which had both epiphyses visible when they were 14 to 15 days old. At 12 months of age, four of these dogs (67 per cent) did not show any sign of hip dysplasia.