Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is a condition where the elbow joint does not develop correctly. As the dog matures,
the joint undergoes wear and tear and the joint deteriorates, leading to a loss of function.
This can cause varying degrees of pain, discomfort, stiffness and lameness.

How elbow dysplasia is inherited
Elbow dysplasia is a complex inherited disorder, which is controlled by a number of different genes and influenced by several environmental factors (e.g. diet, exercise or factors when in the womb before birth, etc.). Each of the genes that help to make a dog’s elbows may have different possible versions, or variants. Some versions increase the risk of elbow dysplasia, while others decrease the risk. Each dog will have a mix of these “good” and “bad” versions of genes, making it very difficult to predict whether a dog will be affected. The impact one version of a gene has might only be slight, but lots of genes having a small influence have a combined additive effect. The way in which these conditions are inherited is not straight forward; hence the name complex inherited disorders. These complex diseases are usually seen across many different breeds and are also described in both cross breeds and mixed breeds.

Why screen your dog?
Breeders are able to screen their breeding stock for elbow dysplasia before the dogs are bred from. Testing all
potential breeding stock, where relevant, allows breeders to better understand the kind of genes a dog may pass
on to its offspring, giving them the information required to avoid producing clinically affected puppies. The data from the BVA/KC elbow scheme is also used to create Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs). EBVs help owners
to select lower-risk dogs for breeding. Making informed decisions from health test results enables breeders to
adapt their breeding programmes and reduce the risk of the diseases appearing in future generations.

What are the scores my dog may receive?
Each elbow joint X-ray is assessed by BVA/KC scrutineers and the degree of elbow dysplasia present is
indicated by a scale of 0 to 3 (0 being the best and 3 being the most severe). Only the highest grade of
the two elbows is taken as the elbow grade for that dog.