Hip Dysplasia is a condition where the pelvic ball and socket joint do not fit together well because of a malformation in either or both parts. The loose fitting joint creates calcification as the dog ages, resulting in pain and lameness.

Many large breeds are commonly affected by Hip Dysplasia, but occurrence in the Doberman is rare. However, it is still important to test for this condition.

The cause of Hip Dysplasia is likely a combination of genetics, diet, and environment. Preventing or reducing the severity of Hip Dysplasia includes healthy exercise and a proper diet.

For the pet Doberman, it is important to catch Hip Dysplasia early, before it causes pain or long term damage. It is also important for prospective Doberman owners, when choosing a breeder, to research the blood lines to ensure the parents and grandparents do not have the condition.

Currently, the most common test for the condition is done by taking a certain type of X-ray after two years of age, when the hips are fully developed. This X-ray is sent to the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) where it is graded by an expert panel of examiners as excellent, good, fair, or dysplastic.

Also, a new method has been developed for diagnosing Hip Dysplasia by the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School. This test still uses an X-ray. The difference is that the examination measures the laxity (space between, looseness) in the joints. The dog receives a grade in the form of a distraction index (DI). The university suggests that only dogs falling in the top 50%, having the tightest hips, should be bred.

Advantages of the new test is that it can be performed as early as 16 weeks because what the test evaluates does not rely on fully developed hips. Also, the evaluation is breed-specific. Doberman hips are compared only to Doberman hips.

Treating Hip Dysplasia can start with a number of medications for mild cases. For more severe cases, hip replacement surgery may be required.