Tuesday, July 7, 2009 5:58 PM

Bigger Isn't Always Better


How is it that hip dysplasia is most commonly seen in large-breed dogs? One purported reason is that the larger size and weight puts more stress on the hip joints. However, dogs, like every other creature, are usually proportionately sized, so they also have larger joints, as well. Also, this disease is seldom seen in greyhounds, who have been bred for racing and therefore have an unusually thick musculature supporting the hips. Additionally, smaller dogs and even cats can develop hip dysplasia, although it is not as prevalent as in larger dogs. A big part of the problem seems to be the relationship between these large dogs and humans.

Most of the larger breeds tend to be working dogs, who have had a long relationship with human beings. Early on, people saw the utility of having a canine helpmate in the everyday activities associated with hunting, fishing, herding and guarding. As dogs became domesticated, they were selectively bred for certain characteristics that made them all the more useful to their masters. This long history of reproductive manipulation has resulted in many desirable traits, as well as some not so desirable. Such is genetics!

Nowadays, of course, many dogs are kept as pets and are not required to perform many of the tasks they were bred for in the past. They still have the inclination, however, to do what they were "meant" to do. This is also part of their charm. People like dogs to protect their homes, and they want a companion animal that has physical stamina. The physical activity that they were bred for, however, puts an additional strain on the animal's joints. Think about the times you see people running , or playing fetch or frisbee with a dog. I'll bet it's usually a large dog you see engaging in these activities, right?

Environmental factors as well as human involvement can exacerbate the symptoms of this disease. Next post, I'll take a closer look at these issues and the ways they can influence hip dysplasia.

Just So You Know: The fox featured in a recent post has been sighted in the last few days by our Miss P. The vixen is indeed a Gray fox, characterized by the red behind her ears as well as the black swath on her tail. Miss P. chased her out of her goatie pen, where the foxy thing was attempting to catch one of Miss P.'s chickens. All flew out of the way, so no harm was done. The last Miss P. saw, Foxy was making her way into the woods, but not before she looked back at Miss P. with a look that said, "I'll be back"!
Chat later!

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Amanda
Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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