Mastiff Index

Joint Problems

The use of health databases and selective breeding
Genetic Disease Control: Open Registry

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) (573) 442-0418 -

(CHD) is an inherited trait involving multiple gene pairs ... It has been demonstrated that the frequency of CHD can be reduced by responsible selective breeding practices.

From the Cornell Animal Health Newsletter -

Research conducted years ago at Cornell and other institutions proved that overfeeding could result in dysplasia. The latest research shows that reducing the concentration of positively charged electrolytes in the diet and then in the synovial fluid results in less joint laxity and less hip dysplasia in growing dogs. The synovial fluid contains sodium and potassium, so diets that offer reduced amounts of these and increased amounts of chloride are beneficial.
It notes that while slowing the growth rate and changing the electrolyte balance of the diet can reduce the severity of the expression of the disease, the disease does have a genetic basis and it is still very important to use selective breeding to reduce its incidence.
     Hip Dysplasia Resources
     The PennHip method of diagnosing hip dysplasia
     AKC Gazette, 7/1993, page 40, "Improving Early Diagnosis."
     Cornell Animal Health Newsletter, 11/1993, page 1,
          "A dietary change can lessen the risk of hip dysplasia."
     Dog World, 3/1993, page 88, "Improving Orthopedic Soundness."
     Dog World, 2/1994, page 7, "Program to reduce canine hip dysplasia."
     MCOA Journal, 1994 #2, page 61, from E.A. Corley, DVM,PhD,
          "Response to recent publications on early diagnosis of hip dysplasia."
     The Mastiff Reporter, Vol II, #2, "PennHIP Update..."
     The Mastiff Reporter, Vol II, #2, "Improve Orthopedic Soundness"
     The Mastiff Reporter, Vol II, #4, "Ariel..."
     MCOA Journal, 1994#3, page 91.
     Cornell Animal Health Newsletter, 12/1994, page 2,
          "Total hip replacement in dogs: making the pieces stick."
     AKC Gazette, 12/1994, page 36, "New PennHIP Number."
     Cornell Animal Health Newsletter, 7/1995, "Tighter hips, better hips."
     MCOA Journal, 1995 #1, "OFA correspondence."
     Canine News, 4/1995, "Canine Hip Dysplasia."

     AKC Gazette, 4/1995, page 68, "Total hip replacement."
     Dog World, 5/1995, page 18, "Canine Hip Dysplasia Part I."
     Dog World, 6/1995, page 20, "Causative Factors Of Canine Hip Dysplasia."
     Dog World, 7/1995, page 16, "Methods for diagnosing the abnormal hip."
     Dog World, 8/1995, page 20, "The role of orthopedic registries in fighting
          Canine Hip Dysplasia."

Contracted Flexural Tendons

(Front Feet) Toes curve inward and under, so dog looks like it is walking on outside edges of its feet. Pasterns bow outward. Tremors common in limbs when under pressure.

Cruciate Ligament Rupture

     TPLO Surgery
     Dog World, 3/1993, page 7, ligament ruptures.

Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow Dysplasia is a general term covering a number of inherited abnormalities of the elbows including Fragmented Coronoid Process (FCP), United Anchonial Process (UAP), and OCD of the Humeral Condyle. These disorders are influenced by genetics and nutrition. It has been shown that overfeeding and oversupplementation with calcium can greatly increase the severity of these abnormalities. The following quotes are taken from Fred Lantings article for The Mastiff Reporter:

As we have gained more information about the incidence and course of elbow dysplasias, it becomes clear ... that these are genetic problems with environmental factors either making it worse or making it manifest. We don't have a good idea of how many genes are involved, but all of the above disorders (UAP, FCP, and OCD) are probably polygenic traits ... the general consensus is that they are definitely best controlled by genetic selection ... Whatever the elbow problem, osteophyte growth continues as the dog ages, so if you haven't discovered and taken care of the disorder earlier, your dog will have progressively more trouble in his geriatric years, even though he may have passed his middle years with little or no difficulty.

From the article by Drs. Foster & Smith:

Some of these patients can be helped with surgery. In some, surgery can even eliminate the problem totally. However, the problem is genetically carried by the dog and it should never be bred as it will probably pass this condition on to future generations.

You can do preliminary x-rays and have them reviewed by OFA as early as 6 months, and certify them at 2 years. Please note that these problems are sometimes impossible to detect until a mastiff is 2 or more years of age.

As of 12/31/1993 OFA had evaluated for certification only 68 female and 46 male mastiffs of which 11 females and 8 males were determined to have elbow dysplasia. Please note that these numbers do not include preliminary evaluations done by OFA and many breeders do not send in x-rays that their vets feel will not pass OFA certification.

     OFA Elbow Dysplasia article

     Elbow Disease In Growing Dogs
     Elbow Dysplasia
     Canine News, 11/1993, page 1, "The New Diagnosis, Elbow Dysplasia."
     The Mastiff Reporter, Vol II, #2, "Improve Orthopedic Soundess."
     The Mastiff Reporter, Vol II, #3, "Elbow Disorders in the Mastiff and Other Breeds."
     The Mastiff Reporter, Vol II, #3, "Elbow Disorders in the Mastiff and Other Breeds Part II."

Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)

all joints (Arthritis)

Fragmented Coronoid Process (FCP)

A form of elbow dysplasia, see above. From Fred Lantings article

In one study it was determined that 32% of Rotties which do not limp and have not limped or shown pain have the same problems (fragments or fissures) as those which do, which tells us that these dogs may shrug off discomfort for a while, but also it indicates that there are some dogs with defective elbows being bred and transmitting the disease to future generations. ... FCP is primarily a genetic disorder and secondarily of nutritional or environmental consideration.
     AKC Gazette, 9/1994, page 30, "Surgery Not the Elbow's Answer."
     The Mastiff Reporter, Vol II, #4,
         "Elbow Disorders in the Mastiff and Other Breeds, Part II."

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD)

A painful, crippling disease of the long bones of the legs. Cause unknown. There appears to be two different conditions that present the same symptoms - fever and joint pain especially of the pasterns - one can be controlled to some extent by diet and the other requires a specific antibiotic that can attack infections in the spine and brain.

     AKC Gazette, 12/1993, page 34.
     MCOA Journal, 1994 #2, page 12, "Bone Survey Update."

Idiopathic Nondeforming Arthritis

     MCOA Journal, 1992, #1, page 19.

Osteochondritis Dessicans (OCD)

Shoulder, Knee, Hock, Spine, Stifle

Degeneration of the bone and cartilage of the joint. OCD of the Humeral Condyle is a form of elbow dysplasia, see above. From Fred Lantings article:

OCD at the humeral condyle begins the same way other forms of osteochondrosis do: cartillage loses some nutrient delivery either before or after misaligned stresses (with some obscure genetic origins) result in a fissure. This hairline crack propagates in a shallow, 'horizontal' manner, or deeper and more perpendicular to the surface. Either way, a flap of cartilage develops early, with osseous (bone) tissue only secondarily involved.
OCD is both hereditary and can be caused by overnutrition with calories or calcium.
     AKC Gazette, 6/1993, page 62, "Osteochondritis And Lameness"
     Cornell Animal Health Newsletter, page 8, Answer to a question about OCD.
     MCOA Journal, 1994 #2, page 12, "Bone Survey Update."


Generalized inflammation of the long bones. Sudden lameness, usually in a front leg, self limiting. Dogs "outgrow" the condition. Pain can often be greatly reduced by restricting activity, i.e. rest is often the best medicine. Dogs that exhibit signs of lameness should be taken to a vet promptly for diagnosis.

     MCOA Journal, 1994 #2, page 12, "Bone Survey Update."
     AKC Gazette, 12/1994, page 59, "Treating Shifting Leg Lameness."

Patellar Luxation

Registry available thru OFA. Does not require x-ray to diagnose.

     MCOA Journal, 1994 #4, page 108, "Patellar Luxation Registry."
     Canine News, 1/1995, page 6, "Luxating Patella - What Is That?"


Degenerative spinal disease in which bony spurs (osteophytes) occur on the vertebrae. Can be crippling in severity. Generally thought to be hereditary.

Ununited Anconeal Process (UAP)

In an average normal dog the anconeal process should be united with the ulna at 20 weeks. In a mastiff it may be prudent to wait longer for the bones to unite, perhaps 9 months, unless there are degenerative changes or lamness. It is very unlikely to fuse later. A form of elbow dysplasia, see above. From Fred Lanting's article

We are certainly dealing with genes and how they are expressed, regardless of the type of elbow dysplasia. ... As soon as UAP is diagnosed, the patient should be scheduled for surgery to remove the 'loose' piece and thereby the movement, irritation, and worsening degenerative changes. ... Early correction is far better, and routine radiography of your young stock is cost-effective in the long run, as well as beneficial to your breed and your public image.

Wobblers Syndrome - Cervical Spondylopathy

Disease of the neck that typically affects the hind legs first. In younger dogs with mild symptoms the problem may disappear by itself if excercise is limited. There is a high incidence of Wobbler Syndrome in the offspring of affected dogs.

     Wobblers - is there an alternative to surgery?
     A collection of information about Wobblers
     E-mail group for owners of dogs with Wobblers
     Gold bead therapy
     AKC Gazette, 3/1994, "Hind Limb Lameness in the Large Breeds."
     AKC Gazette, 3/1995, page 32, "Is surgery for wobbler's worth it."


     MCOA Journal, 1993, #3, page 77, treatment with Adequan.
     The Mastiff Reporter, Volume I, #1, 1993, page 6, pain treatment with DLPA.
     The Mastiff Reporter, Volume I, #2, 1993, page 5, treatment with Adequan.
     The Mastiff Reporter, Volume I, #4, 1993, page 8, treatment with Cosequin.
     AKC Gazette, 1/1994, page 36, "Pain Relief at What Price?"
     MCOA Journal, 1994, #3, page 71, "Vegetable Soup", diet and joint problems.
     Canine News, 7/1994, page 1, "Arthritis in Dogs."

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