What is PennHip?
Lyon's PennHip xrays.
PennHIP testing is accurate in puppies as young as 16 weeks of age. It gives an estimate of the risk for painful osteoarthritis (OA) of canine hip dysplasia (CHD) later in life. With this information, preventive and palliative strategies can be recommended by the PennHIP-trained veterinarian.
All dogs can benefit from PennHIP testing. For pet dogs found to be at risk, early intervention can help prevent or lessen the severity of CHD. For working/service dogs, identifying a dog with healthy hips can extend the working life of the dog. For breeding dogs, early detection of at-risk hips can allow the breeder to make early, informed decisions as to which dogs to keep in breeding programs.
PennHIP does NOT harm the dog. While they are under general anesthesia, the technician takes 3-4 pictures. The technician does NOT attempt to pop the ball of the hip out of the joint. They merely put pressure on the hips as if the dog were standing. They then measure the Distraction Index (DI). "The DI is an indication of the ‘percent out of joint’ that the femoral head is displaced from the acetabulum." A DI of .23 (Lyon) is tight. This means that only 23% of his hip is out of the joint. A hip that is .75 is quite loose and has 75% of the ball out of the joint.
As of 2018, the average rating for a German Shepherd is a DI of .42. At Seelenvoll, we strive to breed dogs that are better than the average. In fact we are so proud of our Shepherds that we have posted the PennHip reports of all our breeding dogs below.
We have partnered with Veazie Vet to clear all of our breeding stock of any hint of hip dysplasia. Even if the dog in question has a score of .60 (still no sign of dysplasia), we do not introduce them into our breeding program. Our goal is to only breed dogs that are in the range of .1 - .55 in their reports.
The principal objective of selective breeding is to maximize the pairing of good genes by breeding dogs not affected with (and preferably, not susceptible to) CHD.
PennHip vs. OFA
OFA measures how DEEP the hip fits in the socket. PennHip measures how TIGHT the hip stays in the socket.
As a breeder, we are choosing dogs for a myriad of reasons. It is important for us to know more than just the general range that the dog's hips are in. It is important for us to educate ourselves with all the terms involved, and read everything that we can get our hands on so that we can improve the health of our lines. Breeders should be in it not for the money, but because of their love for the breed and belief that they can improve on it. German Shepherds are known for having flatter hips, so it is up to us to make sure that every puppy we put out there has the best chance that it could have.
"Results suggested that OFA scoring of HE [hip joint-extended] radiographs underestimated susceptibility to osteoarthritis in dogs, which may impede progress in reducing or eliminating hip dysplasia through breeding." - from a study comparing and contrasting OFA and PennHip that can be found here.
While OFA is based on the opinion of three vets on a panel, PennHip is based on mathmatical measurements. Most say that PennHip is more strict in that way. So, while OFA is subjective, PennHip is objective. Even though PennHip can be hundreds of dollars more expensive, we feel more secure in the readings and information that we get back from the study. We strive to invest in our dogs and their future health.... that is why we trust having all of our dogs Penn Hip evaluated. Click here for Fast Facts about PennHip
Below are the PennHip reports for all of the dogs who have been a part of our program.
Want some reading material? Here is a list of articles about PennHip.
PennHIP vs. OFA: Better Medicine vs. Better Marketing. (petmd.com)
Dog Owner's Guide: The PennHip Method of Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia.