Menu Close

There Is No Such Thing As “Environmental” Hip Dysplasia

Your Dog’s Environment Did Not Make It Dysplastic

Puppy on Stairs
If this puppy didn’t inherit genes for hip dysplasia these stairs won’t make it dysplastic.

Barring a traumatic injury, if a dog doesn’t have the genes for Hip Dysplasia it’s hips will develop normally.

It’s all over the Internet. “Information” about how the environment makes puppies become dysplastic. Too much food, the wrong food, jumping, climbing, too much exercise, not enough exercise, and so on, and so on…

It’s no wonder so many people ask: How do I know what caused my dog’s Hip Dysplasia?
The answer is simple: Genes Caused It.

No study has shown that environment can induce Hip Dysplasia in a dog that didn’t inherit the genes for it. NOT ONE.

Numerous researchers have studied environmental influences on the development of Hip Dysplasia, particularly related to nutrition. None of them have found an environmental cause. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals’ statement1 on the subject sums up the entirety of what those studies have demonstrated:

“Kasstrom, and later Kealy, reported that a higher than needed caloric intake during the rapid growth phase may result in earlier and more severe dysplastic changes when the genetic potential for dysplasia is present. Lower caloric intake may minimize or delay the evidence of dysplasia in the same dog, but will not change the genotype. Without genetic predisposition however, environmental influences alone will not create hip dysplasia.” (emphasis added)

Despite zero evidence, the belief that environment can cause Hip Dysplasia refuses to die. In recent years the idea has had an Internet-fueled resurgence, typically promoted by people who either misinterpret the (in)famous Kealy/Purina Life Span Study mentioned by the OFA, or they misunderstand a statistical concept called heritability2. Or both. Even some seemingly knowledgeable people who should know better from their college days.

Don’t be fooled. If a dog has Hip Dysplasia it is because of its genes. To be continued…


1The Use of Health Databases and Selective Breeding pg. 23
2Heritability is difficult to understand, and the Kealy study can easily be misinterpreted if you look at it the wrong way. Both subjects are up next in our Hip Dysplasia series. series on Canine Hip Dysplasia. Our comprehensive guide to HD and the effective steps breeders and buyers can take to control it.

Upcoming Series on Hip Dysplasia
Old Age Arthritis is Not Normal, It Comes From Hip Dysplasia
Chronic Pain From Canine Hip Dysplasia: Can You Miss It?
There Is No Such Thing As “Environmental” Hip Dysplasia
Hips and Dysplasia and Heritability, Oh My!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *