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The following article is duplicated from the Dutch Kennel Club’s brochure, department GGW (the former WK Hirschfeld Stichting).

Elbowdysplasia-research is for 4 different conditions of the elbow-joints, who all eventually will lead to deformation of the joint and will cripple a dog. They are development disorders from mostly the cartilage in the joint, due to hereditary and environmental influences. Some dogs can have severe problems from this at a young age. With others, at a later age the severe deformations in the joint will cripple the dog. The research is based on x-rays made from the elbows. Because the causes can vary between different breeds, the number of x-rays made are also different per breed.

The rating panel
One of the functions of the ED-panel from the Dutch Kennelclub, department Health, Behaviour and Wellbeing (GGW), is the rating of x-rays of the elbow-joints from dogs. The x-rays, the so called ED x-rays can be made by every veterinarian which has a contract with the GGW. ED x-rays are rated by a panel of three qualified judges. The objective rating of the x-rays, which is so important for ED prevention, is secured as good as possible this way. The rating of ED x-rays has the purpose to give information to the breeders and breedclubs who use information of elbowdisplasia in their breeding selection programs. X-rays which come in at the GGW department will be rated once every two weeks. After the GGW received the rating costs, the results are send, unless the x-rays did not meet with the technical demands.

ED x-rays
For a good research of the elbow-joints for the presence of arthritis, two x-rays are needed from both elbows. For a diagnostic research x-rays are needed in 4 different positions. For both researches, the dog has to be 18 months of age.
For the reliability of the ratings, high demands are needed in quality and documentation (identification) from these x-rays. If these demands are not reached, the veterinarian who made the x-rays will be informed, with a note about what was not correct and a request to make new x-rays. Such a request is send immediately after the rating of the x-rays and is at the latest within two weeks after GGW received the x-ray, at the veterinarian’s. Also the owner will be notified. The veterinarian should contact the dog’s owner to make an appointment for new ED x-rays. The rating of these new x-rays will not be charged.

The rating
The ED-panel will give her final rating as one of the following classifications: Free, Borderline, 1st degree, 2nd degree or 3rd degree. In those cases where breed- or project-specified ratings are needed, the panel will also judge the different parts of the condition.

ED rating
The arthritis-rating is done according International values, set by the “International Elbow Working Group”.
The definitive arthritis-classification will be equal to the arthritis-rating of the worst of both elbow-joints.
With ED-research, a difference in made between breeds selected on international publications for higher risks. With these breeds, 4 x-rays per elbow are required. With the other breeds, 2 x-rays per elbow are sufficient for now.
The veterinarian and Dutch Kennelclub, department GGW, can tell you which breed needs how many x-rays.

The rating of the different parts
The word “Elbowdysplasia” is used when one of the following conditions is present in the elbow-joint:
1. OCD (Osteochondritis dissecans, a loose piece of cartilage from the upper-arm)
2. LPC (Los processus coronoïdeus, a loose piece of bone from the lower forearm)
3. LPA (Los proc.anconeus, a loose piece of bone in any other part of the lower forearm)
4. Incongruention (a not “fitting” joint, due to different lengths from the 2 bones in the lower forearm).
All of the above mentioned conditions will lead to development of “arthritis” within months. With arthritis, we mean “changes in the joints (bone-reactions) that will develop during the condition, which are staying and are especially shown by start-pains (some crippled steps after the dog gets up), “walking through” (so better movement after some time) and a worse situation after too much stress.”

The treatment of a dysfunctional elbow-joint depends on the cause and seriousness of the condition, the amount of pain, the dog’s age and the possible presence of (complex) arthritical changes.
Often surgery is required.
With this surgery, unless other factors are the case, loose bone- and cartilage fragments (with OCD, LPA and LPC) will be removed from the joint while inconguention will be corrected if possible. Arthritis is not curable with surgery, the cause of arthritis is.
It is not proven that there is any medication that can cure arthritis. But by working with movement rules and the usage of painkillers, the pain is often reduced.

Repeating the ED-research
Usually a dog only has to be rated once in a lifetime. In some cases it is best to repeat the research after 1 year. This can also be done if the owner wants this done. The new rating will replace the old rating from that moment.

Elbowdysplasia and breeding
Usually we can say that the better the qualification of the elbows, the smaller the changes that the offspring will develop ED. This is no guarantee that all offspring of negative dogs will be negative, chances are only better. The way of hereditary can be different in each breed.

The ratings of ED-research are send to breedclubs that have a contract with the GGW. One of the consequences is that the raring should be published, for members and not members. GGW does not register names of owners. These are not mentioned on the reports.

Your dog and ED
Owners of dogs that have been officially x-rayed often ask the vet that made the x-rays for his or hers opinion on the state of the elbows. If the first impression of the vet is milder than the definitive score, the dog’s owner is often disappointed. The ED-panel advises veterinarians not to make any remarks on the condition of the elbows. From dogs which are not clear of Elbowdysplasia, but who do not show any signs from the outside, it is impossible to predict if they will have problems sooner or later. This will depend on the severeness of the condition and the uses of the dog and the dog itself. It is wise to see to it that the dog will not be too heavy and also that otherwise stressing the elbows is avoided. This does depend on the demands the owner does have on his dog as pet or workingdog. In case of doubt, you can always consult with your vet.

ED and breeding
The ED-rating only gives information about the elbows of the individual dog. Information about the ED-rating from parents, littermates and offspring will contribute to a more accurate impression about the breeding-quality of that individual dog. It is very important that breedclubs have access to all results and that all ED x-rays that are made also are send for official rating by the ED-panel, even if the veterinarian sees obvious deformations in the elbows. Best is to only breed with ED vrij (ED free) dogs, because chances of ED in the offspring are reduced to a minimum that way. With breeds that only have a limited population and breeds in which ED often occurs, this is unfortunately not always possible. Within the breed-club, breeders should consult with the Kennelclub, GGW department, about what is necessary and possible in the name of ED prevention and what is accepted in the name of breeding.

If there are any questions after reading the above, you can contact, preferably by mail:
Raad van Beheer, afdeling GGW, Postbus 75901, 1070 AX  Amsterdam
Telephone/Fax +31 (0)20-6794462


Example ED-certificate:

X-rays from above rating:

We hope to have better pictures available in the future.

As you can see on above picture, the Cane Corso breed needs 4 x-rays per elbow. According to the Dutch Kennelclub’s explanation, department GGW, this is only done with breeds that have a higher risk according to international publications. ED does not occur very often with the Cane Corso and if, usually in combination with CHD. ED research is not included in the bylaws from the breedclub. They do recommend to have an HD D dog checked for ED, before it is used for breeding. If any form of ED is found, this dog is not good enough to breed with. We only have a small population selected on CHD and looks, but ED is so rare, that we can tackle this problem at the source.

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Nancy Koper