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Breeding dogs should be tested for inherited diseases

Q: I breed Rottweilers. Several potential buyers refused to consider my puppies because the dam and sire did not have hip clearances. Other breeders I know provide either PennHIP or OFA clearances, so I guess I’ll have to do the same. How do these clearances differ?

A: The only responsible reasons to breed dogs are to improve the quality of the breed and to provide healthy pups to buyers. To accomplish these goals, you must be certain your breeding dogs are free of inheritable diseases.

One such disease is hip dysplasia, the most prevalent inherited orthopedic disorder and especially common in large-breed dogs. Hip dysplasia, abnormal (“dys-“) development (“-plasia”) of the ball-and-socket hip joint, causes osteoarthritis, pain, lameness and weakness of the hind legs. The disease can only be managed, not cured.

Two organizations evaluate hip x-rays and certify their findings: PennHIP and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).

PennHIP testing measures the laxity (looseness or tightness) of the hip, provides a numeric result and compares it with the results from other Rottweilers. Dogs with loose hips develop hip dysplasia.

Conversely, OFA provides a qualitative evaluation of the conformation of the hips, for example, excellent, good, fair, borderline or dysplastic.

Visit and to learn more. Then ask your veterinarian for advice about your own breeding dogs.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at

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