The British Veterinary Association Elbow Dysplasia Scheme
The Scheme uses X-rays to screen for abnormalities caused by elbow dysplasia in the elbow joints. The X-rays are graded by an expert panel of veterinary surgeons otherwise known as Scrutineers. The grades can then be used by breeders to make informed breeding decisions.
What is canine elbow dysplasia?
Elbow dysplasia is a common inherited orthopaedic problem in dogs where the elbow doesn’t develop properly.
Elbow dysplasia includes a number of specific abnormalities or problems that affect different areas of the elbow joint. These cause problems by affecting the growth of the cartilage which forms the surface of the joint or the structures around it. Even a small change in the shape of one part of the joint can have major consequences for the joint function, leading to lameness (unable to walk correctly), osteoarthritis (a common form of arthritis), pain and serious effects on the health, behaviour and welfare of the
Causes of elbow dysplasia
ED is a multifactorial disease, which means that a number of factors can influence the occurrence of the condition. The most important factor, however, is the genetic makeup of the dog. Other factors such as growth rate, diet and level of exercise may influence the severity of the disease in an individual dog, but they cannot prevent the disease or reduce the potential of the dog to pass on the disease to offspring. However, studies show that ED has a high heritability confirming that a high proportion of the disease is genetic.
The Scheme is open to all dogs and breeds including cross-breeds, unrecognised breeds, and dogs not registered with the Kennel Club.
- Before having your dog screened for elbow dysplasia, please make sure you can meet the following requirements:
- The dog must be at least 1 year old.
- The dog must be permanently and uniquely identified by way of a microchip.
- If applicable, the dog’s Kennel Club registration certificate and any related transfer certificates must be available so that the appropriate details can be printed on the X-rays.
Interpreting and using the results
Once your dog has been graded, a completed certificate detailing the elbow grades will be sent back to your vet and then passed on to yourself.
A grade is given for each elbow and the overall elbow grade is determined by the higher of the two individual grades. The grades are:
- 0 = Radiographically normal
- 1 = Mild osteoarthritis
- 2 = Moderate osteoarthritis or a primary lesion with no osteoarthritis
- 3 = Severe osteoarthritis or primary lesion with osteoarthritis
CHS recommends only breeding from dogs that have an elbow grade of 0.
Taken from the BVA Canine Health Scheme website April 2021