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Hip and elbow screening improves long-term dog health, study suggests

A new study has revealed a marked general improvement in hip and elbow scores for some of the UK’s most commonly health-screened dog breeds.

The research carried out by The Kennel Club’s team, examined the importance and impact of health schemes for hip or elbow dysplasia on the long-term health of dog breeds. The study specifically examined data from six commonly hip and elbow-scored breeds, which include Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd Dog, Rottweiler, Bernese Mountain Dog, and Newfoundland.

Researchers analysed data from the BVA/KC Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Schemes and found that not only have the proportion of dogs screened for hip and elbow dysplasia increased over time but that the grades and scores of dogs used for breeding have also been improving too. 

In the majority of the reviewed breeds, there was a notable decline in severe hip scores and a more modest, but still notable, decline in severe elbow scores. 

Dr Tom Lewis, quantitative geneticist and genetics research manager at the Kennel Club said: “Our research shows that these screening schemes have become more widely used, resulting in fewer puppies being born from untested parents.

“Breeders are increasingly choosing breeding stock with better scores and this careful consideration is significantly helping to improve dog health, demonstrating the significant positive impact that responsible breeders can have, and have had, on the health of dogs”

He added: “Health screening is instrumental in reducing the incidents of these painful conditions and we will continue to support and collaborate with breed clubs and breeders to ensure that this trend endures.”

Bill Lambert, senior health and welfare manage added: “The Kennel Club closely collaborates with breed clubs, vets and researchers as part of our Breed Health and Conservation Plans project which aims to identify, prioritise and tackle inherited breed-specific diseases.”

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