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Hi, new joiner here. We have an 8yr old lab bitch who is a lovely, settled family member. We’re wanting to introduce a new puppy into the family and have a really good home setting etc. We inherited our lab from my mum so weren’t involved in the original purchase so this is new to us. I’ve been reading the advice on here re health scores of parents and I’d like some advice please (apologies I know this is a common topic!).
We’re not going to be breeding from our new pup (male) so I’m not worried about hip / health scoring for that purpose. What should our limits be realistically for hip scores in parents of the pup to give us the best chance of a healthy dog going forward??
I’m happy with the coi score and eye scores etc, but there seems to be a big difference in views on what the current mean average is and what should be an acceptable score???
Any suggestions very gratefully received!!!
 

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Hello Benji154 and welcome.

Hip scores! In their wisdom the KC have rather complicated things in recent years. The average score, or BMS was a straight forward "Average" of all the scores of all dogs tested, statistically called "The mean score." But the KC decided that did not accurately reflect the way things were. So they changed the calculation from mean to median. But the median calculation misses out the best and worst scores and concentrates on those in the middle. (For want of a better description.) At a stroke of the pen the average score for Labradors changed from a total of 11.5 (The score of both hips added together) to a total of around 9 (2018 figures)

Hips are just as important for a pet as for a show or working dog. Bad hips are just as painful whatever. (I know, my hips are wearing out fast, principally due to a serious motorcycle accident many years ago!) The state of the sire and dam's hips can be no guarantee of the hips of the pups, but it's the best guide we have at the moment.

There ae two ways of describing hips, the total score, and the score for the individual score and both are important. Were I looking at pups I would look at the scores of both sire and dam. Firstly, if one of both were unscored I would not be interested in the pups. I would wonder if the breeder had not bothered about this what other short cuts he/she had taken! Assuming they were scored then my cut off point would be around 10 total. But also look at the individual scores, written as 5/5 would mean both side had lost 5 marks. To me that would be fine. But the same score of 10 could also be is one hip was a perfect 0 and the other hip loosing 10 marks, that is not good at all. I might settle for differences such as 4/6 or even 5/6, but 3/7 is getting marginal. When there is a substantial difference in the hips a breeder will sometimes tell you, "It's the result of an accident when younger" and yes, thats possible. But the thought in your mind is always, "Is that a reason, or an excuse?" On the KC website there is something called "Estimated Breed Value" or EBV for hips and elbows and this is probably the best guide we have at the moment because it not only looks at the sire and dam but also at other closely related dogs.

Hope this helps you a little.
 

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Thanks John, that is really clear. We have decided to turn down one pup that we had looked at now based on the hip score of both parents (and other litters they had produced) all having scores above the average. Really useful knowing what others would consider a benchmark, thank you!
 

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Sadly after all this time we are not 100% sure of the mode of inheritance. When hips are scored 9 separate features are examined. We are sure it is a polygenic condition, several genes involved. Is there one gene for each feature?? I doubt it because the 9 features were established as the criteria for scoring long before genes were understood. Several Laboratories have tried to find enough to be able to establish a DNA test but so far all have failed. I personally sent DNA from one of my scored dogs, along with several other people, for them to try to correlate what had been scored with what they were seeing in the genes, but again it ended in failure.

But what we are sure about is that hips can be damaged, both before birth, (Badly presented in the birth canal,) and after birth during the first year of life. This is why it is so important to a/ not over exercise, and b/exercise enough to build up muscle which will help to control the hip joints.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks John, it's a really interesting subject that I'm just scratching the surface of. I was confused about the EBV score KC provide that even when the hip / elbow score can be quite low the EBV score is still very high? I presume that is taking into account the genealogy and providing a score based on all known factors? Have now found a litter where both parents have negative EBV scores so hoping that a viewing will be positive!
 

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The EBV is a calculation based on the history of hip scores behind a dog, so if there are a few poor scores, or hardly any information, then the EBV will be worse than if there is a history of good hips and indeed, elbows. Good breeders look through the whole pedigree, hips shouldn't be based on the health test results of the immediate parents, but what's behind them, and what happens when you combine different lines. Two dogs with good hip scores and no real history of poor hip scores behind them, can, in combination produce problems with hips, so it's important that breeders look at the pedigree of their bitch, and the sort of direction they want to go in when choosing a stud dog, and whether there are any problems cropping up with hips, elbows or anything else.
 
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