You’ve probably heard about huskies and a condition known as hip dysplasia, but do huskies have hip problems like this regularly, or is this a myth?
Hip dysplasia is a concern for huskies, but since systems have been put in place by breeders to screen for this condition, the rate of hip dysplasia among huskies has plummeted. There is lots of data to back this up, and buying a husky from a registered breeder who adheres to these standards is the best way to reduce the likelihood of this condition affecting your husky.
It’s essential to be aware of potential hip problems that huskies can face and the data behind them, so keep reading to learn more.
Huskies And Hip Dysplasia
When you hear about husky hip problems, in most cases, they refer to hip dysplasia.
Canine hip dysplasia is a deformity of the hip that occurs during growth when the ball (the head of the femur) and socket in the pelvis grow at different rates rather than the same rate.
This results in a loose joint, leading to degenerative joint diseases and osteoarthritis.
Hip dysplasia, along with inheritable eye disease, has been a point of concern for huskies for a long time.
What The Data Shows
The OFA is the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, the world’s largest all-breed hip register.
If a dog has an x-ray taken of its hips, these scans are sent to the OFA and reviewed by three board-certified veterinary radiologists.
A rating is then given to dogs over 24 months old (the time taken for hip dysplasia to develop), with only dogs with a rating of excellent, good, or fair allowed to join the registry and given a number.
In a study from January 1994 to December 1998, 12,087 Siberian Huskies were submitted to the OFA for evaluation. 30.5% received an ‘excellent’ rating, with only 2.2% returning as dysplastic.
From evaluations between 1974 and 1994, huskies ranked 111 out of 114 for risk of hip dysplasia, making them one of the least at-risk breeds.
I highly recommend reading the full article on the Siberian Husky Club of America’s website, which you can find here for more information about this study.
How Hip Scoring & OFA Registration Helps
Screening for hip problems has made huskies much less likely to develop these issues, especially for registered breeders who adhere to these guidelines.
If both parents are OFA registered, this is an excellent indication that the puppy will also have healthy hips.
Most registered breeders adhere to this standard, and you can always ask for proof of the registry as well, as the data is publicly available.
Hip scoring is another way to assess the condition of the hips and is used in places like Britain.
Hip scoring relies on sending x-rays to a panel of experts at the British Veterinary Association who score the hips across nine features.
Both hips are rated, and the total is added up. The average score for Siberian Huskies is 7, and anything higher than this should be a point of concern when looking at potential husky puppies to buy.
A hip score of 0-3 is considered normal and healthy (for each hip bone), so anything of 7 or under is a good rating to look for.
How To Give Your Husky The Best Chance Of Good Hip Health
Obviously, the best way to give a husky the best chance of having healthy hips is to work with breeders who breed for this.
Health screening and OFA registration indicate how healthy a husky’s hips will be, but this is very easy to do in hindsight or if you don’t have a husky yet – so what about if you already have a husky?
Weight management greatly impacts the health of your husky’s hips as they grow.
You should always aim to keep your husky at a healthy weight, not too skinny but not overweight either, to promote better hip health.
Weight During The Puppy Phase
A study found that overweight German Shepherd puppies were twice as likely to develop hip dysplasia as their normal-weight counterparts.
Controlling weight during the puppy phase plays a significant role in preventing hip dysplasia.
Moderate Exercise While Young
Huskies are capable of incredible feats of endurance; there are no two ways about it, but you need to be careful exercising them too much while they are young.
As husky puppies grow, their hips are still developing and growing. If you exercise them too much while they are in this phase, it can cause damage to their hips and lead to an increased chance of hip dysplasia as they grow and mature.
Adult huskies need around 2 hours of exercise daily, but puppies should have less than this.
Thirty minutes to an hour is plenty for pups, and make sure that their exercise is not strenuous by choosing walking over running, for example. A lot of husky puppies will tire themselves out just through playing, so only exercise them when they need it.
Hip problems like hip dysplasia and arthritis are a concern for huskies, but if you get a husky from a registered breeder who follows health testing guidelines, the risk decreases dramatically.
Breeders are able to breed for healthy huskies that are not prone to hip problems, but this obviously doesn’t apply to everyone who already has a husky.
If you already have a husky, keeping them at a healthy weight and avoiding intense exercise while they are young are the best ways to help their hips to stay healthy.