FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Breeders Don't Want You To Know
Q. What is
Hip Dysplasia (HD)?
layman’s terms Hip Dysplasia is a looseness of the hips that results
in mobility problems.
causes Hip Dysplasia?
depends on whom you want to listen too. The people who want to sell
you testing kits will say that its all genetic but the severity can
be effected by the environment. Those who want to sell you food may
blame it all on the diet. The truth probably ranges from both
extremes with a bell curve in the middle where the dog’s genetics
and his environment both play a role.
Q. Can Hip
Dysplasia be prevented?
A. There is evidence that diet can prevent the
manifestation of the condition.
There are efforts being made to deal with inherited aspects of the
disease but where they have been stridently implemented in Europe
the success rate was not very high and most likely not cost
Moreover, not only has breeding against Hip Dysplasia been mostly
unsuccessful, the reduction of gene pool caused by such breeding
selections may actually make things worse and also lead to other
genetic problems. For an in-depth analysis, please read the
Q. Are Rhodesian
Ridgebacks at risk for getting Hip Dysplasia?
A. Rhodesian Ridgebacks
have a low incidence of the condition according to the Orthopedic
Foundation for Animals (OFA). Out of 132 breeds tested there were
104 breeds more likely to have Hip Dysplasia than Ridgebacks.
Q. If there is a low
incidence of Hip Dysplasia then why are some Ridgeback breeders so
very concerned about it and place all sorts of restrictions on the
A. Even though the data
indicates a low incidence of Hip Dysplasia in the general Ridgeback
population, any particular breeder may have a high incidence of Hip
Dysplasia in their lines. Any breeder who places undo concerns and
restrictions on a pup or customer should bear close scrutiny from
any potential puppy buyer. Ridgebacks were born and raised in the
wilds of Africa, if your breeder expects them to be handled with kid
gloves something may be very wrong with those lines.
getting a puppy from a Sire and Dam with an approved OFA (Orthopedic
Foundation for Animals) hip rating protect my puppy from a risk of
getting Hip Dysplasia ?
it may actually do the opposite and result in a pup
with bad hips.
An acceptable OFA rating of the parents, the
grandparents, the great-grandparents, the great-great-grandparents
and to infinity, BY THEMSELVES, is almost worthless.
important is the status of the siblings of the pup and the siblings
of all these ancestors. The following is a quote from the OFA
website. “For example; a dog with fair hips but with a strong hip
background and over 75% of its brothers and sisters being normal is
a good breeding prospect. A dog with excellent hips, but with a weak
family background and less than 75% of its brothers and sisters
being normal is a poor breeding prospect”. In other words,
it possible to have an excellent rated dog that should NOT be used
for breeding and at the same time have a dog with poor rated hips be
a good choice for a breeder.
From that statement alone it should be obvious the rating, by
itself, is of no use to a potential puppy buyer.
In the same vein, a rating is also useless to the breeder unless
they implement the entire protocol.
Q. How are
OFA rating supposed to be used?
To properly use the OFA ratings, the breeder must
know the OFA ratings for the Sire and Dam, for ALL of the siblings
of both the Sire and Dam, for All four Grandparents, and ALL of the
Grandparents' siblings, for ALL eight Great-grandparents and for ALL
of the Great-grandparents' siblings.
These OFA ratings must then be
placed in a "vertical pedigree" and calculated to determine whether
or not a dog should be bred. Assuming that each animal is only bred
once and each litter has 10 pups, that is a minimum of 140 dogs with
OFA ratings that the breeder must have recorded. What is important
is that the mass quantity of dogs in that list be free of Hip
Dysplasia. Since Hip Dysplasia has both an nutritional and complex
it is very possible to have a dog with excellent
hips whose entire genetic makeup is composed of dogs with horrible
hips (and such a dog will throw pups with bad hips).
Its for that
reason that any individual dog’s OFA rating is a worthless predictor
of Hip Dysplasia and it is also the reason why it takes so much
information to attempt to make the OFA protocol work.
In fact, it
requires such a large amount information to do the ratings properly
that I doubt if ANY show breeder has successfully implemented the
protocol. If you desire more information check out the following
document on the OFA website BREEDERS GUIDE TO DATA.
Q. If the OFA rating of
any individual dog is worthless, why do breeders and breed clubs
push the ratings?
A. The obvious answer is
that the road to hell is paved with good intentions; it’s the same
path that destroys a breed by focusing on form over function.
Unfortunately, very few breeders have any sort of scientific
training and just don’t understand what is required to implement the
OFA protocols.. Those few that do understand the science involved
know they don’t have enough dogs or historical data to make the
system work. However, what most breed clubs and breeders do
understand is fashion and political correctness, and they want to be
seen as attempting to address the "problem" (the fact that Hip Dysplasia is not an issue in the Ridgeback population as a whole is
beside the point). Unfortunately, improperly selecting against one
genetic component unnecessarily jeopardizes the gene pools
diversity. It is just another shameful example of how selecting for
"looks" and "appearances" can destroy a breed.
Moreover, for the
truly Evil breeders, they can find the one dog in a lineage of unbreedable dogs that has an excellent OFA hip rating and breed it.
By doing so, they hide their lineages’ genetic flaws long enough to
make a sale to an unwitting and uninformed customer. Eventually the
offspring comes down with Hip Dysplasia, and by that time the
customer is stuck with a sick dog. These very same breeders will
then require you to return or destroy that pet to get any “warranty”
relief, knowing full well that any loving owner would never do such
a thing. And while this may be bad enough for any individual owner,
should the dog be unfortunate enough to be a confirmation champion,
these bad genes will be spread widely in the breed.
Q. How can I protect my
self from ignorant or unscrupulous breeders using the OFA ratings to
make poor breedings or even scamming me?
A. Fortunately if you
have read all of this FAQ you know what questions to ask. If the
breeder claims to use the OFA protocol, ask to see the “vertical
pedigrees” and have them explain how the OFA protocol works. If they
don’t know what you’re talking about and can’t provide you with the
data and answers, then you can be sure they are either ignorant or
trying to con you. In either case be very wary. The thing to really
watch out for is a breeder who understands the system, uses the
ratings on a few dogs, but does not implement the system. In such a
the only legitimate reason
to do an OFA screening on a dog is
medical diagnostic tool to confirm a suspected case of Hip Dysplasia. Otherwise you should suspect
that they are just doing it
to fool the customer into a false sense of security, or in the worst
case they are purposefully misusing the OFA ratings to hide bad
lineages and con the customer.
Q. What are the OFA
ratings of your dogs?
Our dogs don’t have
Hip Dysplasia, therefore there has been no medical diagnostic reason
to test them.
Furthermore, we do not own and breed a huge number of
dogs, hence there is no scientific method for us to properly
implement the OFA breeding protocol and therefore there is no reason
for us to have the dogs OFA rated. And finally, we are not going to
have a medical procedure done on our dogs that involves anesthesia,
constraint, contorting the dog and taking X-rays just to give
uninformed customers a false sense of security.
Q. Is there any way I
can test my potential puppy directly for hip problems?
A. Yes, there is the PennHIP method that can be used
on pups as young as 16 weeks of age. Using this method will at a
minimum give you some direct risk assessment of your potential
puppy’s susceptibility to getting Hip Dysplasia.
Q. What are the good
lineages and what ones and who should I avoid?
A. To answer that
question would require good record keeping and access to the entire
medical data base of the breed to be made public. Despite breeders
claiming they only want what’s best for the breed, such a list will
not happen for the obvious reasons.