Hip Dysplasia

The latest findings

For decades, dog breeders have been encouraged to x-ray the hips of breeding stock in an effort to reduce the incidence of canine hip dysplasia, a painful degenerative joint condition. Yet this problem still persists today. In fact, studies suggest that in the majority of dog breeds there has been no significant change in the prevalence of hip dysplasia.

What has changed is this. New findings suggest that diet and exercise play a much greater role (70-75%) than do genetics (25%). Hip dysplasia is, for the most part, a lifestyle issue.

Weight management is now considered to be a key tool in preventing hip dysplasia. In one study, one group of puppies was permitted to free-feed. Another group of puppies was fed 25% fewer calories than the first group. The free-fed puppies had markedly worse hips compared to puppies eating fewer calories. By six years of age, 50% of the free-fed puppies had evidence of osteoarthritis in their hips compared to only 10% of the reduced-calorie puppies. And it just got worse as the dogs aged.

The benefits of natural rearing

Real food diets (vs. commercial pet foods) have long been reported to grow puppies slowly and keep them slender. That’s why we recommend this type of diet for your puppy. Puppies are born with normal hips. Dysplasia develops in the dogs’ first year of life. So puppy-buyers —not just breeders— play a significant role in preventing hip dysplasia. We believe it’s our responsibility to teach puppy buyers about these findings and help them maintain their puppy’s good health.


Exercise is also key in forming healthy hips especially in the puppies’ first few months. Researchers have concluded that free off-leash exercise on soft, uneven ground is beneficial to healthy hip development. Whereas repetitive exercise (retrieving a ball or forced jogging), slippery surfaces, and climbing stairs daily are all detrimental.

The big question

So now we must ask ourselves this:  Since diet and exercise can significantly reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia, and since genetics are only responsible for 25% of the problem, and since x-rays do not identify genetic predispositions, then are dog breeders being told to expose their dogs to unnecessary radiation ?

Our philosophy

Puppies here at Bear Creek Ranch are fed a raw food diet. Our adult dogs grew slowly as puppies and have remained fit and trim. Additionally, dogs and puppies at Bear Creek Ranch have vast areas to run, hunt and play safely off leash. They develop strong muscles, bones and ligaments without repetitive stressors.

Farmers prior to 1970 did not x-ray dogs for hip dysplasia and now we may know why. Dogs then were eating and exercising very differently than most dogs do now.

If hip dysplasia is a result of the modern-day lifestyle, then I submit to you that returning to homemade meals may be more effective than x-ray screening in reducing the incidence of hip dysplasia. And I’m not alone. According to researcher Carol Beuchat PhD, “the incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs could be be immediately and dramatically reduced simply by practicing better weight management.”

Dr. Beuchat’s work and some additional reading :




http://leerburg.com/pdf/hipplacementforxrays.pdf specifically, pages 18-34.




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