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What’s being done about: Hip Dysplasia?

The BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme

To reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Kennel Club (KC) launched the BVA/KC hip dysplasia scheme in 1983.  The scheme was introduced to enable and encourage breeders to identify healthy dogs for use in their breeding programmes.  Radiographs submitted to the BVA are examined and scored by a panel of experts, with the results being published in the Kennel Clubs Breed Record Supplement and on the Mate Select website.  Since the scheme was launched, over 260,000 x-rays have been submitted for scoring, with an additional 10,000 being received each year.  The Scheme advises breeders to only use breeding stock with scores below the breed mean score, which is published annually on the BVAs website and in the Kennel Club's Annual Health report.

Mate Select - An online tool for breeders

Mate Select is an open access service which allows anyone to look up the published health test results (including Hip scores) of any Kennel Club registered dog. This service has been available since 2011 and currently receives approximately 300,000 visits to the website each month. By freely publishing all health test results reported to the Kennel Club, it allows breeders to make an informed decision when choosing a potential mate for their dog.

The Assured Breeder Scheme

The Kennel Club's Assured Breeder Scheme (a scheme which promotes canine health and welfare through good breeding practices) encourages its 9,000 members to carry out health testing appropriate to their breed.  The scheme provides its members with breed specific health testing requirements and recommendations for 116 different breeds.  Of these breed, it is mandatory for all breeding stock to be hip scored for 62 different breeds and a recommendation for a further 16.

Measuring success

The progression of the most commonly hip scored breeds has been closely monitored by annually comparing a 5 year rolling mean.  This is an average derived from dogs scored in the previous 5 years (so, the 1996 5-year mean represents the mean of the dogs scored between 1992 and 1996)  The 5 year rolling mean for the 20 most commonly hip scored breeds have all reduced since 1996, with 16 reducing their 5 year rolling mean by 15% or more and 6 having reduced it by 30% or more.  More breed specific health data is published in the Kennel Club's Annual Health Report.

Future developments - Estimated Breeding Values

Complex diseases, such as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental effects. Data from the BVA/KC hip dysplasia scheme has been analysed by the Animal Health Trust and used to calculate Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs).  EBVs look at, where available, the hip score of a dog, its progeny, siblings, parents and other relatives, and provides a measurement of that particular dogs likely genetic status, with environmental effects removed.

By using EBVs, breeders will be able to distinguish more effectively between dogs of high and low genetic risk and progress more rapidly towards the goal of eradicating this debilitating condition.  EBVs of the 15 most commonly hip scored breeds will be released via the Kennel Club's Mate Select later on in the year.