This was written re: Rhodesian Ridgebacks
but applies to Danes & any other large/giant breed dog.
It explains why we do not OFA our Danes.




Things Some Breeders Don't Want You To Know


Q.      What is Hip Dysplasia (HD)?

A.        In layman’s terms Hip Dysplasia is a looseness of the hips that results in mobility problems.


Q.      What causes Hip Dysplasia?

A.      It 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 effective. http://www.petsurgery. com/caninehipdysplasia.html. 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 following Academic Dissertation.


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 dogs?

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.


Q.    Will 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 ?

A.      Absolutely not, 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. What is 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?

A.      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 genetic components, 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 case, the only legitimate reason to do an OFA screening on a dog is as a 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?

A.      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.


Posted w/permission from aurthor.

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If you obtain information from this site, ask my opinion or assistance on feeding or health related issues,
it should NOT be used in lieu of your veterinarian's advice, diagnosis or treatment.