Hip scores and Labradors
The Hip Score for a Labrador (in Australia), if it is to be used for breeding, should be below the breed average which is currently about 9 - 12 (depending on what "average" you use).
The reason for this is so that the intent of breeding is to improve the breed, and by continuing to only use breeding stock with Hip Scores below the breed average, the overall quality of the breed is improving. It is also to help reduce the incidence and severity of hip dysplasia.
For registered Labrador breeders in Australia, it is my understanding that it is also a requirement for their breeding dogs to be tested and screened for hip dysplasia, and prior to being used for breeding.
WHAT AGE TO HIP SCORE A DOG?
In Australia, a dog must be at least 12 months of age before it should be Hip Scored.
HOW TO HIP SCORE A LABRADOR?
After the Labrador is 12 months of age it is taken to a Veterinarian to have a special set of x-rays taken of their hips. These x-rays are then forwarded to a specialist Veterinarian that assesses the hip x-rays and gives a score of each hip.
Each hip is assessed against nine different criteria, these being:
- Norberg angle
- Cranial acetabular edge
- Dorsal acetabular edge
- Cranial effective acetabular rim
- Acetabular fossa
- Caudal acetabular edge
- Femoral head/neck exostosis
- Femoral head recontouring
The maximum score for most of these is six (6). The maximum score for each hip is 53. The maximum score for the dog is 106 (i.e. 2 x 53).
The breed average of hip scores for Labradors in Australia is about 9-12. So it is recommended to only use breeding stock that have hip scores below the breed average.
WHAT DOES LOW HIP SCORE MEAN?
A low Hip Score is a score that is below the breed average.
For example, the breed average for Labradors is about 9-12.
HOW MUCH DOES HIP SCORING COST?
The cost of a Hip Score test can vary depending on which Veterinarian you use to take the x-rays of the hips and which specialist Veterinarian you use to score the x-rays of the hips. It has been costing about $500 in total.
WHAT DOES A HIP SCORE OF 5/5 MEAN?
This means that each hip was assessed as scoring 5 points, and a total of 10 points combined.
WHY HIP SCORE DOGS?
Dogs are generally hip scored in order to assess their risk of developing hip problems such as Hip Dysplasia. Basically, the theory is that the lower the score is, the lower the assessed risk is of the dog developing hip dysplasia and/or if the dog does develop hip dysplasia, then the severity should also be reduced.
Unfortunately, no amount of testing etc can completely remove the risk of hip problems, such as hip dysplasia. But it certainly seems to be helping to reduce the risks.
EXAMPLES OF LABRADOR HIP SCORES?
Here are a few examples of real hip scores for Labradors:
The first example above is good. The total (6) is below the breed average, and none of the individual scores are above 3.
The above latter example is not recommended to be used for breeding. The total (28) is too high, and some of the individual scores are also above 3.