Impact of Environmental Factors on the Incidence of Hip Dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia is a concern to all dog owners; it severely impacts both longevity and quality of life of the animal. While all dogs show some symptoms of it at the later stages of their lives, it can be devastating news when it affects a young dog.

Randi I. Krontveit © Norges veterinærhøgskole

Besides verifying the parents have had their hips certified, some advice about overfeeding and maintaining healthy weight, owners have had little help on this issue.

For her doctoral thesis Randi I. Krontveit looked into the incidence of HD in four breeds; the Newfoundland, the Labrador Retriever, the Leonberger and the Irish Wolfhound. She surveyed 500 dogs and compared the environment in which the dogs grew up, the data coming from questionnaires filled by the breeders, owners and veterinarian surgeons.


  • daily gentle exercise in parks up until the age of three months reduced the risk of HD
  • daily use of steps during the this period increased the risk of HD
  • dogs that exercised on a daily basis on varied terrain had delayed onset of symptoms

There were some findings that conflicted with earlier studies. Previous findings have indicated a link between fast growth and high body weight and the increased risk of HD.  Krontveit reports that the breed with the slowest growth rate (in the group), the Newfoundland, had the highest incidence of  HD and the Irish Wolfhound with the fastest growth rate among the four had the lowest incidence of HD.

Breed stratification effects may not make these findings meaningful. Breed specific traits may be playing a role to account for these effects. Further work is needed here to see if these findings are specific to these breeds only or if they represent a general species trend.

The results are the same we see in just about every case: moderate exercise is good.

It’s good for you and it’s good for you dog.  Get out there and play.


Norwegian School of Veterinary Science (2012, March 26). A number of environmental factors can affect the incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs.

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