Navigating the wonderful world of health testing is important, but it can also be confounding when you read that one breeder’s dog has an “Excellent PennHIP score” while another’s dog has a “.11, .18 PennHIP rating.”
What does that mean? And are both accurate representations of PennHIP results?
Before we get into more complex questions like this one, let’s start with basic terms that you will likely encounter on your research journey into canine health testing. Please note the hotlines will take you to reference websites with more information.
This is the first part of a series on Health Testing. We hope you learn something that can help you on your search for your ideal dog!
Terms and Definitions
CHIC: Canine Health Information Center, a joint effort between OFA and breed clubs across the US to research and maintain information on the health concerns of each participating breed.
CHIC Certification: When a dog has publicly posted results for each health test recommended by their parent club. This does NOT mean that they passed all testing- only that they have posted results. Passing results are automatically posted to the OFA database, so if a dog is missing one/more of the recommended tests, they either did not submit for certification, or they did not pass.
Antech Diagnostics: Diagnostic lab that purchased the exclusive rights to the PennHIP test.
Hip Dysplasia (HD): abnormal or faulty development in the hip. Read More
Hip Laxity: the looseness of the hip joint. Two types- Passive, under sedation, dog not able to compensate with muscle for looseness), and Functional, the pathologic form during normal weight bearing in dogs with dysplastic hips. Functional laxity is not measurable with current methods. Read More
Elbow Dysplasia: disease of the elbow affecting joint function. Read More
DNA Screening: buccal (cheek) swab submitted to one of many laboratories to evaluate the presence/absence of identified genetic markers. This can be done for color, coat type, disease risk, and more. Programs like UCDavis’ Veterinary Genetics Lab working with BetterBred are working to support responsible preservation breeding through genetic diversity. Currently there are no DNA disease tests recommended for the Anatolian Shepherd breed.
Ratings and Scores
One extended view of pelvis submitted to the rating opinion of three boarded Veterinarians.
Superior conformation; there is a deep-seated ball (femoral head) that fits tightly into a well-formed socketgood hips in dogs (acetabulum) with minimal joint space.
Slightly less than superior but a well-formed congruent hip joint is visualized. The ball fits well into the socket and good coverage is present.
Minor irregularities; the hip joint is wider than a good hip. The ball slips slightly out of the socket. The socket may also appear slightly shallow.
Not clear. Usually more incongruency present than what occurs in a fair but there are no arthritic changes present that definitively diagnose the hip joint being dysplastic.
Significant subluxationfair hips in dogs present where the ball is partially out of the socket causing an increased joint space. The socket is usually shallow only partially covering the ball.
The ball is barely seated into a shallow socket. There are secondary arthritic bone changes usually along the femoral neck and head (remodeling), acetabular rim changes (osteophytes or bone spurs) and various degrees of trabecular bone pattern changes
Marked evidence that hip dysplasia exists. The ball is partly or completely out of a shallow socket. Significant arthritic bone changes along the femoral neck and head and acetabular rim changesmild hip dysplasia in dogs.
One view of each (R/L) elbow submitted to the rating opinion of three boarded Veterinarians.
No abnormal findings in either elbow submitted.
GRADE I ELBOW DYSPLASIA:
Minimal bone change along anconeal process of ulna (less than 2mm).
GRADE II ELBOW DYSPLASIA:
Additional bone proliferation along anconeal process (2-5 mm) and subchondral bone changes (trochlear notch sclerosis).
GRADE III ELBOW DYSPLASIA:
Well developed degenerative joint disease with bone proliferation along anconeal process being greater than 5 mm.
Three views of pelvis submitted to AIS for evaluation of joint laxity. Each hip is rated individually, higher (looser) score is taken as the dog's official rating for comparison within the breed.
PennHIP never gives a word rating like OFA’s “Excellent” or “Good.” The PennHIP ratings are a pair of decimals assigned to each hip. See the example report below.
Report Example - Karaboudjan's Skyfall, Severine
On the Distraction Index scale, the Gray rectangular box represents the central 90% of distraction index scores within the Anatolian Shepherd breed.
That black square at .38 DI on the scale is the breed’s mean score across all samples.
The green line and black circle mark are Severine’s .18 DI. Outside and to the left (better) than the 90% central range.
This is relative, but anything tighter (lower #) than the mean score for the breed is preferable.
Anything looser (higher #) than the mean score for the breed is not a good example of a tighter hip in that breed.
When it comes to PennHIP, the results give you a precise measure of your dog’s hips. This is more valuable to breeders who want to improve hip conformation in their lines than an OFA rating alone. However, some breeders opt for PennHIP after their dog fails OFA Hip exams.
When you come across a breeder who opts for PennHIP rather than OFA, ask them why and ask to see their dogs’ reports. They should look like the one above.
If you see someone using “Excellent PennHIP” or “Good PennHIP” in their advertising, ask clarifying questions and know that these terms are not compatible in an official capacity. Hopefully, this error was made from ignorance rather than trying to hide something about their dogs. Either way- clarify and decide if that’s the right breeder for you.