Hip Dysplasia in Poodles

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Hip dysplasia in poodles is a common health issue, especially for certain types like miniature poodles. It can be extremely painful and debilitating and have a drastic effect on your dog’s quality of life. This is why it’s so important to understand the condition and do what you can to reduce your dog’s risk.

Table of Contents

  • What is Hip Dysplasia?
  • What are the Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Poodles?
  • How is Hip Dysplasia in Poodles Treated?
  • Easing the Discomfort of Hip Dysplasia
  • Final Thoughts

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is the degeneration or malformation of the hip joint. This means the bone doesn’t fit properly into the socket, which can create abnormal pressure on the bone, which leads to small cracks in the cartilage. As you might imagine, this is the same case as when humans have issues with their joints. Hip dysplasia can be very uncomfortable – even painful – for dogs and can lead to a variety of other health issues. Most dogs begin to show signs of a problem before 18 months of age and will eventually develop severe osteoarthritis.

Nobody is entirely sure what causes hip dysplasia in poodles. Many believe the root cause is genetic, and if a dog has a parent or anyone in its lineage with hip dysplasia, their risk for developing the condition is greater. There is also emerging research that hip dysplasia might also be environmental. This would mean that there could be things a poodle’s owner could do to reduce their dog’s risk of developing the condition.

For instance, dogs that are overweight or that suffer an injury at a young age tend to be more prone to developing hip dysplasia. Obviously, you can’t completely control whether your dog gets injured. But, the more you do to reduce the risk for hip dysplasia, the better, especially since poodles are genetically pre-dispositioned to have a high risk.

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What are the Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Poodles?

Symptoms of hip dysplasia can arise very young. Some dogs show signs as early as four months of age. Most owners are aware of a problem by the time their dog is about one and a half years old.

One of the most symptoms of hip dysplasia is the “bunny hop” on their back legs or possibly signs a swaying gait. Most dogs with hip dysplasia have a hard time getting up and won’t want to walk upstairs. Many of them avoid exercise even though it’s in their nature to be active, especially if exercise includes running. This is because their back legs tend to be sore a lot of the time.

A veterinarian examination is needed to diagnose hip dysplasia. This typically includes a range of motion analysis, x-rays, and manipulation of the hip under general anesthesia. During the early stages of hip dysplasia, it’s possible to see the abnormal shape of the femur head as well as the hip socket.

How is Hip Dysplasia in Poodles Treated?

The most important thing you can do to treat hip dysplasia is to prevent it from developing in the first place. This is especially important if you have a breed like a poodle that has an elevated risk for the condition.

Reducing the risk for hip dysplasia for your dog starts before you even bring your dog home if you are adopting a puppy. There’s not much you can do if you are rescuing a poodle and you don’t know the parents or if you’re adopting an adult dog. But, if you intend to adopt a purebred poodle puppy, make sure you carefully choose your breeder. Also, find out if the pup’s parents were affected by hip dysplasia. Careful selection of the parents and an assessment of the dog’s family history is one of the best ways to determine if your dog will suffer from the condition. Your breeder should be able to give you their dog’s “hip score,” and the lower the number, the lower the risk for the pups developing hip dysplasia.

Keep in mind, even a puppy that comes from parents with healthy hips can still be at risk for hip dysplasia, which is why the hip score is so important to know.

Reputable breeders are aware of the problem with the breed and have done all they can to reduce the risk for hip dysplasia in poodles. If you don’t have the benefit of assessing the dog’s health risk before adoption, you’ll need to assume the worst and be vigilant with the environmental risks. Make sure your dog stays within a healthy weight and carefully watch his or her development during the first two years of life.

Easing the Discomfort of Hip Dysplasia

Should your poodle develop hip dysplasia, there are a few things you can do to ease the discomfort and improve the chances of a comfortable and fulfilling life.

Poodles diagnosed young might be eligible for a treatment known as TPO (Triple Pelvic Osteotomy) surgery. Ideally, your dog will be diagnosed by six months of age for this treatment to be the most effective. The surgery can change the angle of contact between the ball and the socket. This will improve the usefulness of the joint over the course of his or her lifetime.

In most cases, surgery is used to correct problems in both joints and must be performed on two occasions, one after the other has healed. Your dog might have limited mobility during recovery, and a crate can help keep them under control until they are feeling better.


Most owners report a dramatic improvement following recovery, and a good long term prognosis is often given. Though it can be frightening to put your pup into surgery so early in life if left untreated poodles who are already showing weakness and pain in their hindquarters are doomed to a lifetime of pain and suffering.

If you miss the opportunity for surgery for your dog or it was never an option, to begin with, there are still some things you can do for your dog on an ongoing basis to reduce the risk for severe problems. Be vigilant about keeping your dog within a healthy weight range. There are also supplements and treats available that support healthy joints.

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When your dog’s comfort level permits, take them for walks and allow them to play. No-pull harnesses ensure a comfortable walk for you and your pet. You might be tempted to limit your dog’s activity, but they’ll know what they can handle. It’s also a good idea to avoid steps if possible and keep a dog with hip or hindquarter issues confined to one floor of your home.

Final Thoughts

You want your dog to live a healthy, happy life. Sometimes, hip dysplasia interferes with that goal, but it doesn’t mean your dog can’t still enjoy every day. The more you know, the more you can help your dog be comfortable when struggling with joint problems.

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