BVA / KC Elbow Dysplasia Scheme for elbow scoring of dogs in Ireland
Elbow dysplasia means abnormal development, and the degree of elbow dysplasia present is indicated by a grade assigned to each elbow on a scale of 0 to 3 (0 being the best and 3 being the most severe). Only the highest grade of the two elbows is taken as the elbow grade for that dog. The minimum age for elbow grading is one year, and each dog is only ever graded once under the scheme. Advice to breeders is wherever possible to use only those dogs with grades of 0 or 1 for breeding.
Elbow dysplasia (ED) is a common multifactorial condition manifesting as a variety of developmental disorders of the canine elbow and leading to osteoarthritis of the elbow joint(s). The disease has a strong genetic component and therefore screening of dogs’ elbows by radiography and grading the changes will help breeders to select the most suitable dogs for breeding. For the Scheme to be meaningful and successful it is important that films of each elbow from animals intended for breeding are examined. It is also important to monitor ED in the progeny of breeding stock.
Dog breeds for elbow scoring
Many breeds are susceptible to ED but there is a higher incidence in certain breeds
A number of breeds which have been shown to have a higher incidence of elbow dysplasia. These breeds include: Basset Hounds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, English Mastiffs, German Shepherd Dogs, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands and Rottweilers.
Any breed may be screened under the scheme.
Purposes of the Elbow Scoring Scheme
The main purposes of the Scheme are the examination of radiographs of both elbows of dogs for signs of any primary lesion(s) and/or osteoarthritis caused by the conditions which are collectively termed “elbow dysplasia” and the issue of a certificate in respect of that examination. The examination is conducted by the evaluation of radiographs for any anatomical and pathological changes indicative of elbow dysplasia and a grade for each elbow joint is recorded. The following views of each elbow joint are required for grading under the Scheme: TWO mediolateral views which must be – (i) a neutral lateral (110º); (ii) a flexed lateral (45°). An overall grade is given which is that given to the elbow with the highest grade. The overall grade is intended to assist dog breeders in their selection of breeding stock. It is recommended that breeders wishing to reduce the risk of elbow dysplasia should select their breeding stock (both dogs and bitches) only from animals with overall elbow grades of 0 or 1. Lameness is not a good indicator of elbow status and many dogs with ED do not show signs of lameness (ie they are affected sub clinically). Dogs with sub clinical ED are more likely to produce clinically affected (lame) progeny than dogs with normal elbows.
The ED Scheme does not cover any other hereditary or clinical defects which may need to be considered when choosing suitable breeding stock. However, breeders wishing to have their dogs graded for hip dysplasia as well as elbow dysplasia may have the hips and elbows radiographed at the same time and the submissions sent together.
More useful information of BVA elbow scoring may be found at
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