What Causes Hip Dysplasia in Golden Retrievers? – Symptoms, Precautions and Cure

The retriever family of dogs consists of Golden and Labrador retrievers. Both of these breeds are susceptible to hip dysplasia. I shall go through all the details of hip dysplasia in Golden as well as Labrador retrievers.

Hip Dysplasia is a deadly disease that no one wants for his/her dog. It is more profound to be found in retrievers than other dogs.

So you ask What Causes Hip Dysplasia? Well, the reason for hip dysplasia is a genetic disorder and breeding of the dog. The life of a retriever dog can reduce from 12 years to 6 years if he suffers from hip dysplasia. So do read this article if you don’t want to reduce the lifetime of your dog to half of what he can live.

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia. These are the words that any dog owner who’s aware of the condition would not like to hear, especially from their vet. Hip Dysplasia is a complex skeletal condition that causes the hip joints of a growing puppy to develop abnormally.

To help you understand the issue more clearly, you need to be familiar with some basics about the hip joint. A hip joint is basically in the form of a ball and socket which should slide against each other in a very smooth manner, facilitating effortless movement.

In the case of hip dysplasia in canines, the ball and socket fail to fit or develop properly, leading to a loose joint.

When this happens, the two articulating parts of the joint move abnormally relative to each other. In the end, painful deterioration occurs over time and can even lead to loss of function of the joint.

Reasons for Hip Dysplasia in Golden Retrievers

hip dysplasia reasons

The main causal factor for Hip Dysplasia in Golden Retrievers is genetics. Golden Retrievers are a breed that is currently known to have a predisposition to hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia in canines is referred to as a polygenic, multifactorial disease in medical terms.

This means that many genes are thought to contribute to the condition, in addition to some influence from environmental factors. At this moment, researchers have not yet been able to single out a specific gene as being entirely responsible for the condition.

If researchers had identified the causal gene by now, it would be easier to determine the dogs that have a higher likelihood of suffering from the terrible condition. That way, even breeders would be in a better position to make good breeding decisions to avoid the disease.

  1. Other factors that are known to contribute to the condition include:
  2. Excessive growth rate
  3. Improper nutrition and too much weight which puts stress on the dog’s joints
  4. Inappropriate amount and type of exercises

Hip Dysplasia Symptoms

Hip dysplasia can be an overly-complicated condition at times, with the symptoms varying from one breed to another. These symptoms can show up while your pooch is young or as he ages.

The symptoms can also vary depending on the level of inflammation, degree of joint looseness, the severity of the condition, and the period of exposure to the disease.

  1. Nonetheless, the following are the main symptoms of hip dysplasia to look out for in Golden Retrievers:
  2. Limping
  3. Bunny-hopping (use of both hind legs at the same time when running)
  4. Loss of thigh muscle mass
  5. Stiffness
  6. Difficulty or reluctance while getting up, climbing stairs, running, or jumping
  7. Reduced range of motion
  8. Pain when touched in the hip area

Keep in mind that hip dysplasia does not always reveal itself through physical symptoms. Your dog can suffer from the condition for some time before severe symptoms start showing up.

Precautions for Hip Dysplasia for Your Dog

The bad news is that not all cases of hip dysplasia can be prevented, especially if the condition is inherited. However, there are still some things you can do to lower the probability of the disease in your golden retriever. The following are some of the precautions to consider:

1) Feed an Appropriate Diet

In young dogs, a high fat, high-calorie protein diet can cause rapid bone growth making genetic predispositions of the condition to manifest. Puppies should be fed on a diet that encourages slow, steady growth, rather than a rapid growth that may lead to bone and joint complications.

2) Provide Appropriate Levels of Exercise

Unsuitable exercise habits such as excessive jumping and other forms of exercise that strain the joints of a young dog should be avoided in young dogs. It’s vital to ensure that your pooch only gets the recommended amounts of appropriate exercise that will prevent obesity and strengthen their body.

3) Use Joint Supplements

Even though the research on the effectiveness of joints supplements such as glucosamine is limited, some veterinarians suggest that these supplements can help in relieving symptoms of hip dysplasia. You can purchase glucosamine supplements meant for dogs that are prone to suffering from arthritis.

4) Have your dog screened

Having your furry friend screened for the condition is by far one of the most effective prevention methods. This is in consideration that the disease is very manageable if detected early enough.

What do I do if My Retriever Gets Hip Dysplasia?

You have to keep in mind that hip dysplasia is more of a genetic defect in golden retrievers. All the same, if your dog has been diagnosed with the condition, the first thing you should do is discuss the issue with your vet. That way, you will get some medical solutions on how to manage the symptoms to ensure that your pooch feels more comfortable.

In addition to consulting with your vet, your pooch will be better off with a few lifestyle tweaks, especially if they are obese. Hip dysplasia symptoms can be managed better if your dog is healthier and in shape.

To facilitate that, you will want to take better control of your dog’s food intake. You should also consider reducing their workout intensity, and instead have several shorter exercise sessions to make up for the change. This allows your pup to rest in between sessions, hence limiting the irritation.

Your pooch will also benefit from one major variation in their exercise; consider making a switch to swimming rather than having your dog running and retrieving.

Do’s and Don’ts for Severe Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

If your dog, is, unfortunately, diagnosed with hip dysplasia, there are several do’s and don’ts that you want to consider. These habits will not cure the condition but will relieve the symptoms, helping your dog cope better with the condition.


The main do’s when dealing with hip dysplasia in dogs include:

  1. Go for low impact exercises such as swimming, and short-distance walks
  2. Elevate your dog’s feeding bowls
  3. Offer your furry friend a solid orthopedic bed
  4. Gently massage the muscle around the affected areas
  5. Install ramps so that your dog can avoid stairs
  6. Give joint supplements that help dogs with arthritis


The don’ts of dealing with hip dysplasia in dogs include:

  1. Don’t go for high-intensity exercises such as excessive jumping
  2. Don’t feed your dog on fatty foods and table scraps
  3. Don’t over-exercise your dog
  4. Don’t stop your dog from exercising in fear of pain

Furthermore, the condition of Hip Dysplasia can mature into arthritis which is also a disease of the bones. I always say that precaution is so helpful if done during the initial life of the retriever puppies.


  1. https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/javma.2005.226.387
  2. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article%3Fid%3D10.1371/journal.pone.0102241

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