Elbow Dysplasia (ED)

What is elbow dysplasia?

Elbow dysplasia is a condition where the elbow joint does not develop correctly. As the dog matures, the joint undergoes wear and tear and the joint deteriorates, leading to a loss of function. This can cause varying degrees of pain, discomfort, stiffness and lameness.

How is elbow dysplasia inherited?

Elbow dysplasia is a complex inherited disorder, which is controlled by a number of different genes and influenced by several environmental factors (e.g. diet, exercise or factors when in the womb before birth, etc.). Each of the genes that help to make a dog’s elbows may have different possible versions, or variants. Some versions increase the risk of elbow dysplasia, while others decrease the risk. Each dog will have a mix of these “good” and “bad” versions of genes, making it very difficult to predict whether a dog will be affected. The impact one version of a gene has might only be slight, but lots of genes having a small influence have a combined additive effect. The way in which these conditions are inherited is not straight forward; hence the name complex inherited disorders. These complex diseases are usually seen across many different breeds and are also described in both cross breeds and mixed breeds.

Main types of lesions:

  • Osteochondritis Dissecans
  • Fragmented or ununited coronoid process
  • Ununited anconeal process

Scoring Dogs for Elbow Dysplasia

The grading system is simple with four grades of ED:

Grade Description
0 Normal
1 Mild ED
2 Moderate ED
3 Severe ED