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Objectives: To determine the reliability of early passive hip laxity examination in predicting moderate and severe hip dysplasia.

Methods: The passive hip laxity of 104 Estrela Mountain dogs was evaluated using the Ortolani method, conventional hip-extended radiography and the PennHIP method, when the animals were between four and 12 months of age. After the age of one, dogs were re-examined for hip dysplasia using the Fédération Cynologique Internationale scoring system. The passive hip laxity results were subsequently compared with the Fédération Cynologique Internationale scores for sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value and accuracy.

Results: The PennHIP method achieved the best results in specificity (93 per cent), positive predictive value (91 per cent) and accuracy (88 per cent), and the Ortolani method was the best in sensitivity (92 per cent) and negative predictive value (92 per cent).

Clinical Significance: The Fédération Cynologique Internationale grades D and E can be predicted with confidence even before animals are one year old.