Pet Insurance Quotes

Get FREE Quotes!

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Dog wearing double hip brace

Pictured: Older dog wearing a hip brace

Dog Hip Dysplasia Overview

Hip dysplasia is a hereditary disorder that occurs when your dog's hip joints don't grow properly. This abnormal development can cause pain, arthritis and in some cases crippling lameness. In other words, if your dog's hip dysplasia is severe he or she will be unable to walk or run.

Clinically speaking, hip dysplasia occurs when your dog has abnormal looseness between the ball (femoral head) and socket (acetabulum). When the ball and socket don't fit snugly, they tend to rattle around, eventually deforming the bone and causing arthritis and pain.

Hip dysplasia is most commonly found in large breed dogs but can affect even the smallest breeds as well.

Facts: Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

  • Canine hip dysplasia occurs in 50% or more of some of the larger breeds of dogs
  • From 1974 through December 2010 over 72% of English Bulldogs examined by OFA were dysplastic
  • Hip replacement surgery costs $5,000 but can be far more depending on the type of breed and where you live
  • There are 25 dog breeds with a 1 in 4 chance of being dysplastic

Source: Baker Institute for Animal Health


Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs are usually mild and subtle because the disease worsens over time. Early signs include mild to moderate lameness that does not seem to improve. You may also notice your dog favoring one side or the other to compensate for the pain in one of the hip joints. Other symptoms include stiffness, difficult moving, lethargy, irritability or licking of the hip area.

Clinical Testing and Diagnosis

Dog getting checked for hip dysplasia

Pictured: Young dog getting examined

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from hip dysplasia your veterinarian can run tests for you. The most common way to diagnose hip dysplasia is to take x-rays. Your veterinarian will also perform hip scores, which help evaluate your dog's hip flexibility and pain levels in that region. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has created a hip grading system to assist veterinarians on the diagnoses and treatment of hip dysplasia in dogs.

There are seven classifications defined by the OFA. Three classifications are non-dysplastic, one is right in the middle, and the last three are dysplastic (hip dysplasia is the diagnosis).

Excellent - This classification is the best rating a dog can get regarding hip structure and health.

Good - Slightly less than excellent but still a very healthy ball and join structure in the hips.

Fair - There are minor irregularities in the hip joints. Could be normal for some breeds but a yellow flag for others.

Borderline - This is the line between your dog being diagnosed as dysplastic or not. Typically 50% of the dogs classified as borderline do not see deterioration in the hip.

Mild - The ball is partially out of the hip socket, which is creating some joint space. Your vet will keep an eye on deterioration over time.

Moderate - There is a significant amount of subluxation and the ball is only barely sitting in the socket. Left untreated the arthritis in the hip will deteriorate over time.

Severe - This is where the ball is partly or completely out of the socket. Typically there are significant amounts of cartilage build up and arthritis around the joint.

PennHIPP Program

PennHIPP is a not-for-profit program wholly owned and operated by the University of Pennsylvania. Their mission is to develop and apply evidence-based technology to direct appropriate breeding strategies aimed at reducing in frequency and severity the osteoarthritis of canine hip dysplasia.

PennHIP incorporates a new method for evaluating the integrity of the canine hip. It is accurate in puppies as young as 16 weeks of age. It has great potential to lower the frequency of CHD when used as a selection criterion.

Dog Hip Dysplasia Treatment

Dog getting treatment for hip problems

Dog receiving controlled exercise treatment

Once your dog has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia the changes are irreversible. They key to successful treatment is to help your dog manage pain and reduce the stress factors. Depending on the classification and age of your dog, treatments for dog hip dysplasia can range from simple weight reduction and exercise to full hip replacement surgery.


If your dog suffers from mild hip dysplasia then weight reduction and exercise management may be enough to reduce pain and allow your dog to live a normal life. Some canines might also benefit from a dog hip brace to help alleviate the pain associated with the miss formed joint. For milder cases of hip dysplasia, medications range from $20 to $30 per month.


Dogs that are classified as moderate dysplastic will also benefit from weight reduction and exercise management, however they may need physical therapy or alternative therapies to manage the pain and other symptoms. There are also anti-inflammatory medications that can help manage pain. Some medications are oral and others are injected into the hip region on a regular basis by a licensed veterinary professional. Physical therapy can range from $100 to over $1,000 depending on the number of sessions needed and the type of treatment required.


In cases of severe hip dysplasia your dog may need surgical treatment. Sometime corrective surgery is enough to reduce the pain and discomfort. In these situations a surgeon will shave the cartilage and bone matter to provide a more functional ball and socket formation in the hip. In other cases a full hip replacement surgery may be needed. Depending on your dog's size and where you live, the average cost for hip replacement surgery is between $4,000 to $6,000 per hip.

Cost to Treat: $4,000 to $6,000 per hip

Protect Your Pet Today

Real Life Story - Magruff


Magruff on a hike in the Colorado Rockies after successful surgery.

Saved over $4,300 on Magruff's hip surgery

"We bought insurance for Magruff in 2010 after our friends urged us to consider it, and thank goodness they did! Gruffers unexpectedly needed hip replacement surgery that ended up costing $5,200. We're both medical sales reps but we had no idea how sophisticated veterinary care was. We also had no idea how expensive treatment could be. We opted for Embrace's economy package because we just wanted coverage in case anything major happened. We opted not to have wellness coverage and some of the other additions like meds, etc. However, after having Embrace write a check for $4,306.04 we think we might increase our level of coverage when Magruff is up for renewal. We heard their wellness program is great and you can use it for any routine care throughout the year." Magruff's full story

- Lou and Kim

Dog Hip Dysplasia Incidence Rates by Breed

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals was founded to promote the health and welfare of companion animals through a reduction in the incidence of genetic disease.

Breed % Dysplastic # of Evaluations
English Bulldog 72.0% 636
Pug 68.7% 565
Dogue De Bordeaux 56.7% 499
Otterhound 49.6% 425
Neapolitan Mastiff 47.5% 162
Saint Bernard 46.7% 2,184
Boerbeol 45.2% 166
Clumber Spaniel 43.1% 965
Black Russian Terrier 43.0% 623
Sussex Spaniel 40.4% 285
Cane Corso 38.3% 1,007
Basset Hound 37.2% 207
Argentine Dogo 37.1% 221
Perro De Presa Canaro 34.6% 205
Norfolk Terrier 33.7% 315
American Bulldog 32.9% 1,863
Boykin Spaniel 31.5% 3,466
Fila 30.0% 600
Glen of Imaal Terrier 29.5% 190
Lagotto 28.9% 201
French Bulldog 28.6% 1,316
Spanish Water Dog 27.9% 136
American Staffordshire Terrier 25.9% 3,120
Bloodhound 25.4% 2,941
Newfoundland 25.0% 15,853
American Bull Terrier 24.1% 806
Bullmastiff 24.0% 5,803
Catahoula Leopard 21.2% 604
English Shepherd 21.1% 413
Berger Picard 20.8% 149
Cardigan Welsh Corgi 20.8% 2,165
Rottweiler 20.2% 95,279
Chesapeake Bay Retriever 20.0% 13,230
Shih Tzu 19.7% 641
Golden Retriever 19.4% 139,411
Mastiff 19.3% 11,290
Norwegian Elkhund 19.3% 3,940
Chow Chow 19.1% 5,439
German Shepherd 19.0% 110,075
Gordon Setter 18.8% 6,266
Pembroke Welsh Corgi 18.8% 11,656
Old English Sheepdog 18.2% 10,932
Mixed Breed Dog 17.9% 1,779
Field Spaniel 17.9% 1,105
Epagneul Breton 17.7% 175
Icelandic Sheepdog 17.7% 356
Kuvasz 17.7% 1,799
Beagle 17.7% 954
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog 17.7% 2,932
Giant Schnauzer 17.5% 4,498
Chinook 17.4% 728
Havana Silk Dog 17.2% 203
Staffordshire Bull Terrier 17.1% 638
Affenpinscher 16.8% 334
Pyrenian Shepherd 16.6% 151
Shiloh Shepherd 16.6% 897
Barbet 16.4% 110
English Setter 15.8% 10,834
Bernese Mountain Dog 15.7% 19,099
Welsh Terrier 15.7% 121
Spinone Italiano 15.6% 1,295
Entlebucher 15.6% 340
Curly-Coated Retriever 15.5% 1,199
Polish Lowland Terrier 15.5% 536
Australian Cattle Dog 15.3% 3,816
Bouvier Des Flandres 15.0% 8,433
Harrier 14.9% 336
Tibetan Mastiff 14.9% 1,016
Brittany 14.3% 18,974
Black and Tan Coonhound 14.1% 721
Briard 13.9% 2,541
Leonberger 13.9% 1,880
Labradoodle 13.9% 359
Norwich Terrier 13.4% 982
Chinese Shar-Pei 13.2% 9,727
Beauceron 12.8% 447
Akita Dog 12.8% 16,602
English Springer Spaniel 12.7% 15,534
Smooth Fox Terrier 12.6% 381
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 12.6% 6,936
Portuguese Water Dog 12.5% 8,479
Komondor 12.3% 995
Great Dane 12.1% 13,328
Boston Terrier 12.0% 241
Pomeranian 12.0% 108
Irish Setter 11.8% 11,577
Poodle Dog 11.7% 24,675
Pudelpointer 11.7% 463
Irish Water Spaniel 11.6% 1,394
Labrador Retriever 11.6% 239,208
Airdale Terrier 11.3% 6,155
Alaskan Malamute 11.3% 14,211
Welsh Springer Spaniel 11.3% 2,137
West Highland White Terrier 11.2% 374
Boxer 11.2% 5,676
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen 11.1% 759
Finnish Lapphund 10.9% 211
Samoyed 10.8% 16,529
Tibetan Spaniel 10.6% 348
Border Collie 10.5% 12,101
Puli 10.2% 1,781
Wirehaired Vizsla 10.1% 139
Anatolian Shepherd 10.1% 1,970
Norwegian Buhund 10.0% 211
Havanese 9.9% 3,736
Swedish Vallhund 9.9% 273
Akbash Dog 9.5% 549
American Eskimo Dog 9.5% 1,058
Dutch Shepherd 9.1% 264
Great Pyrenes 9.0% 6,109
German Wirehaired Pointer 8.9% 4,276
Cairn Terrier 8.8% 114
Coton De Tulear 8.7% 803
Australian Kelpie 8.4% 131
Weimaraner 8.4% 12,430
Standard Schnauzer 8.4% 4,399
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon 8.0% 2,208
American Water Spaniel 7.7% 781
Dachshund 7.7% 104
Pointer 7.7% 1,681
Miniature Australian Shepherd 7.6% 1,840
French Spaniel 7.4% 190
Small Munsterlander 7.3% 178
Bichon Frise 7.1% 3,710
Vizsla 6.8% 14,508
Schipperke 6.7% 479
Yorkshire Terrier 6.6% 106
Pitbull Terrier 6.5% 108
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever 6.5% 2,123
Cocker Spaniel 6.4% 13,552
Lhasa Apso 6.4% 818
Keeshond 6.3% 4,904
Doberman Pinscher 6.1% 16,176
Bearded Collie 5.9% 4,599
Australian Shepherd 5.8% 34,033
Afghan Hound 5.7% 6,911
Finnish Spitz 5.7% 333
English Cocker Spaniel 5.6% 7,192
Shiba Inu 5.6% 3,285
Tibetan Terrier 5.5% 4,145
Kerry Blue Terrier 5.5% 1,607
Hovawart 5.5% 164
Belgian Shepherd Malinois 5.3% 2,929
North American Shepherd 5.1% 336
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier 5.0% 6,270
Rhodesian Ridgeback 4.7% 11,825
Irish Red and White Terrier 4.5% 292
Shetland Sheepdog 4.5% 20,927
Irish Wolfhound 4.5% 1,917
Dalmatian 4.3% 3,638
Flat-Coated Retriever 4.2% 5,796
German Shorthaired Pointer 4.0% 16,504
Border Terrier 3.7% 2,827
Toy Australian Shepherd 3.6% 138
Parson Russell Terrier 3.5% 115
Eurasier 3.4% 118
Belgian Tervuren 3.4% 6,154
Basenji 3.4% 2,737
Belgian Sheepdog 2.9% 4,176
Rat Terrier 2.9% 523
Collie Dog 2.7% 3,062
Australian Terrier 2.6% 193
Pharaoh Hound 2.6% 503
Greyhound 2.5% 360
Ibizan Hound 2.3% 393
Canaan 2.2% 465
Siberian Husky 2.0% 17,996
German Pinscher 1.9% 424
Borzoi 1.8% 870
Saluki 1.5% 265
Whippet 1.1% 180
Italian Greyhound 0.0% 263

The OFA is guided by the following four specific objectives; to collate and disseminate information concerning orthopedic and genetic diseases of animals, to advise, encourage and establish control programs to lower the incidence of orthopedic and genetic diseases, to encourage and finance research in orthopedic and genetic disease in animals, to receive funds and make grants to carry out these objectives.

Related Content


Get FREE Quotes! BBB Business Review

We’ve generated over 1 million quotes and sold thousands of plans.
About Us

Magruff's Story

“Our pet insurance plan saved us $4,300 when our dog Magruff needed hip surgery.” - Lou & Kim
Pet Insurance Reviews

Why Use Us?

  • Compare all 12 companies
  • Save 25% by comparing rates
  • Fast, free and 100% independent

See How We Can Help

Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance pays up to 90% for veterinary treatment when your dog or cat gets sick or injured.

Learn More

Compare Plans & Prices From the Top Companies

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance ASPCA Petplan Pet Insurance Pets Best Insurance

Embrace Pet Insurance Nationwide Trupanion FIGO