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hip scoring

Hip scoring - what does it involve?

I am considering breeding from my German Shepherd Dog bitch, and have read that I need to have her hips and elbows scored. What does this involve?

Sue Williams Advises...

Hip and elbow scoring are two of the health tests recommended by the Kennel Club for German Shepherd Dogs. It basically involves having your dog X-rayed, and then your vet sends the X-rays to the British Veterinary Association where a panel of experts assess them, giving them a score. If you intend to breed, you want low scores, which are ideally under the breed mean score. To find out more about this, go to www.thekennelclub.org.uk.

I recently took Kali, my Belgian Malinois, to have hers done by a vet who’s a renowned expert at X-raying dogs for scoring, Euan Bryson, from Hampton Veterinary Centre in Malpas, Cheshire. After weighing Kali and examining her to ensure she was fit, Euan injected her with a sedative that resulted in her falling asleep within about 10 minutes. Once asleep, she was lifted on to a table. The first X-ray was of her hips, so she was positioned on her back in a support and her back legs stretched out (see photo above). Once in the correct position, we left the room for literally seconds while the X-ray was taken. Kali was then turned on to her side, so her elbows could be X-rayed.

Once all the X-rays had been taken and Euan was happy with them, he gave Kali another injection to reverse the sedative, causing her to wake up. This worked really quickly and the first sign she was waking up was her tail wagging! The whole procedure was stress-free, and I remained with Kali throughout, apart from the few seconds as each X-ray was taken. Euan showed me the images and explained what the BVA panel would be looking for. This resulted in a big smile from me, as Kali’s X-rays all looked good.

Image by Sue Williams.