Hip Displaysia

Hip Dysplasia is a term which describes developmental and other abnormalities involving the hip joint with the possibility of a genetic influence. Together with wear and tear on the joints these changes cause one or both of the hip joints to malfunction incorrectly and will be painful for the dog, possibly resulting in lameness.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) provide full details on their web site (see below) and the advice given by The Kennel Club/British Veterinary Association (KC/BVA) Hip Dysplasia Scheme is that the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is hip scored,(no need for elbow), prior to mating. This is only undertaken once in a dog’s lifetime.

The Kennel Club and BVA administer various health schemes for dogs, including protocols for Hips, Elbows and Eyes.

Hip Scoring To perform a hip X-ray a Vet usually anaesthetises the dog so that there is no disturbance during the procedure. Some Vets are now performing hip scoring using sedation rather than full anaesthetic, if appropriate for the dog.

In the UK, an X-ray is sent to the BVA where Specialists examine this and give each hip a number (score). The panel meet weekly, but a score can take up to 8-12 weeks before notification is returned to the submitting Vet.

Please note the following:

  • Hip scoring should only be undertaken on dogs over the age of 12 months, there is no upper limit.
  • To check if the dog is in good health, the Vet may also undertake a blood and urine test prior to this procedure.
  • If a bitch is to be hip scored, it is thought by many that this is best undertaken near to the mid-point between her seasons, otherwise the change in hormone levels could possibly cause a higher score.

From 1 January 2010 identification is required before your dog can be tested. A summary of the new regulations follows:

BVA Procedure Notes Section 3.3

Markers and Identification

The following information MUST be radiographed onto the film or digital image at the time of exposure or by light marker onto the film before processing –

  • (a) EITHER
  • (i) the Kennel Club Registration Number (from the top right hand corner of the KC Registration Certificate), for dogs registered with the KC (no other form of identification for KC registered dogs is acceptable).
  • AND
  • (ii) microchip or tattoo number (if applicable)
  • OR
  • (iii) an appropriate form of identification for dogs not registered with the KC (e.g. the dog’s microchip/tattoo number and/or identification as used by the veterinary practice or by the breed club)
  • (b) the date of radiography;
  • (c) left and/or right marker(s)

The minimum best score per hip is zero, the maximum is 53, and this gives a total range of 0-106. The SCWT breed mean score is 13. For full and up to date information, the following link to the BVA Canine Health Schemes for Hip documents.

The cost of hip scoring varies, depending on the Vet, and there is an additional charge by the BVA for the administration of providing the ‘score’ from the X-ray. The results are printed in the quarterly Kennel Club Breed Record Supplements.


In the USA the Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) web site also has information for owners regarding the procedures required in North America: (www.offa.org).

The method of scoring is different to the UK system and a chart at the bottom of the page of this link compares the OFA, FCI (European), BVA (UK/Australia), and SV (Germany) categories of hip scoring.


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