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How Prone Are Golden Retrievers to Hip Dysplasia?

Golden retriever standing on the grass

Health conditions can be pretty scary when it comes to our four-legged friends. Certain issues are genetic, typical, and easily foreseeable in some breeds. As unfortunate as it might sound, hip dysplasia is one of the most common disorders dogs can develop later in life, affecting their mobility.

But what about golden retrievers specifically? Are they particularly prone to this issue? Here we’ll learn much more about hip dysplasia, what causes it, and how to avoid it for your golden retriever potentially.


Hip Dysplasia in a Nutshell

Golden retriever sitting
Image Credit: Piqsels

Hip dysplasia is an all too prevalent bone and skeletal issue that plagues larger breeds of dogs. If you’ve ever seen any diagrams, you know that the hip consists of a socket and joints that rotate together using cartilage to support the rotation.

When a dog gets hip dysplasia, the functionality of the help decreases due to Improper growth over time. If your dog’s hips haven’t correctly formed, it can cause rubbing of the bones, which is extremely painful and, unfortunately, very hard to treat.

Symptoms can be manageable for a while, but most often, it requires surgery. Hip dysplasia can lead to a total loss of hip mobility.

Many factors can influence the risks of hip dysplasia, but it’s often seen in specific breeds. Even small dogs can be susceptible to hip dysplasia in some cases, but it is much more likely, and dogs like golden retrievers since they are larger and carry more weight.

What is interesting about hip dysplasia is it can skip generations. That means a mother could give birth to an entire litter of puppies, none of which have this genetic condition.

However, the parent completely free of the hip dysplasia gene can grow up and have their own puppies but pass the gene from the affected line. That is why it is so important for breeders to screen their dog’s generation to generation to ensure none of these breeding conditions are passed through the bloodline.

Initially, all puppies are born with perfectly developed hips. But the growth process can not be sufficient once the puppy leaves the mother’s womb. This can cause a slight miss between the socket joint, making them much more likely to develop this painful condition.

Statistics on Golden Retrievers with Hip Dysplasia

According to the OHA, 20% of Goldens test positive for hip dysplasia who are tested in America and elsewhere.

Do Breeders Test for Hip Dysplasia in Puppies?

golden retriever dog with puppies
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

If you go to a reputable breeder, they should have gotten all parental testing done prior to choosing parents. If that parent shows any genetic defects, they should not be entered into any breeding program whatsoever.

Hip dysplasia is a disqualifying condition that should not risk passing into a new litter of puppies. So, if the breeder you select has proof of testing, you can rest easy knowing that the likelihood of your golden retriever having this as a genetic condition is very small.

However, suppose you get your golden retriever from a backyard breeder, puppy mill, or otherwise unfavorable situation. In that case, the same testing might not have been completed, and there might not be a lot of background or history on the parents.

This leaves a lot of room open for potential health conditions to develop. The same could be said for golden retrievers you rescue from a shelter. It can be a little uncertain until your vet runs proper testing without knowing the entire history of that dog’s background.

While hip dysplasia is a manageable condition, it can be costly, painful, and difficult to manage.

Can You Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Golden Retrievers?

Golden Retriever dog eating
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Oh, there is no surefire way to completely prevent hip dysplasia, especially if it’s a hereditary gene. There are ways you can work around it. Proper growth and diet are absolutely crucial during the puppy stages.

These developmental periods form your dog’s skeletal structure, setting the bar for the adult years. Your dog requires a nutrient-rich dog food that supports all growing bodily systems adequately.

That’s not to say dogs won’t develop hip dysplasia despite what you try, but it’s likely to be much less severe.

Is Hip Dysplasia Always Hereditary?

golden retriever dog stealing food from another dog's bowl
Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

Hip dysplasia is always a hereditary disorder. It can worsen due to many contributing factors that mainly involve the environment and lifestyle.

However, it is most commonly just natural aging from a genetic disorder that can be passed from mother to pup. For this reason, dogs are heavily screened before breeding and legitimate cases to prevent such issues from arising.

However, do not assume just because your dog has hip dysplasia, improper breeding has taken place. It could be exaggerated due to incorrect diet, lack of exercise, and weight gain.

Importance of Puppy Nutrition & Exercise

Golden Retriever Puppies eating food in the kitchen like little gourmets
Image Credit: Demanescale, Shutterstock

Several ways to prevent those include giving your dog a well-rounded, nutritious diet as they maintain its rapid growth in the puppy stage. Your puppy requires a calorie-dense, nutritious puppy chow to support their growing bodies. As their bodies and minds develop,

Your vet can monitor them to ensure they are on par with growth. You don’t have to wait too long to determine if your puppy is at risk for hip dysplasia.

Vets can do testing called PennHIP testing that can be done as young as 16 weeks old. If it is diagnosed earlier in development, it’s easy for both breeders to identify potential problems and future litters and helps owners prepare for the future.

However, dogs have to be at least 24 months old to receive a permanent hip evaluation from the OFA before a diagnosis can be finalized.



If your Golden’s parents have been tested, yours probably won’t display this trait. However, remember that hip dysplasia can skip a generation. So, just because the parents are free and clear doesn’t mean it’s not in the bloodline.

To be on the safe side, your vet can check your puppy for this condition after 16 weeks of age. If you have an older dog who might be suffering, your vet can help determine how severe the condition is and discuss treatment options.


Featured Image Credit: tanatat, Shutterstock

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