Bernese Mountain Digs, just like other large dogs, may suffer hip or elbow dysplasia. Dysplasia is an abnormal structure of a hip - insufficient formation of a hip socket causes that it is to shallow and, as a result, it cannot cover the thighbone capitulum or causes capitulum deformation. Elbow dysplasia is similar to hip dysplasia, but it is related to front paws. Depending on the level, dysplasia may cause a very serious movement disorder and intense pain. Dysplasia may be inherited, but today we know that it may also be caused numerous external factors, such as too much activity in the puppy phase, walking on a slippery surface, frequent walking up and down the stairs and improper diet in the dog’s development period.

Dysplasia may be diagnosed by a vet specializing in orthopaedics only on the basis of an X-ray. Testing for hip dysplasia is necessary for a dog to obtain the status of a sire or a breeding bitch, while testing for elbow dysplasia is not required, unfortunately. Due to the fact that dysplasia makes it difficult for a dog to walk and causes pain, and these problems can be eliminated only by way of a surgery, I recommend buying a Bernese Dog only after checking the class of dysplasia of the dog’s parents and grandparents.

In various countries, there are different systems of rating lack of dysplasia or the level of dysplasia in the event of its occurrence, the age at which the level of dysplasia may be assessed (e.g. in the USA, a dog should be at least 24 months old, in France – 12 months) and different breeding regulations related to mating dogs classified within different categories.

A comparison of ratings related to hip dysplasia

OFA (USA) Description FCI (European) BVA (UK/Australia)
Excellent No signs of dysplasia A  (no signs of dysplasia) 0-4 (no > 3/hip)
Good No dysplasia, the condition of joints is worse than in the category above   5-10 (no > 6/hip)
Fair No dysplasia, the condition of joints is worse than in the category above B  (No dysplasia) 11-18
Borderline No agreement as to the lack or presence of dysplasia (it is recommended to repeat the testing in 6 months)
- 19-25
Mild Mild dysplasia C  (Mild dysplasia) 26-35
Moderate Moderate dysplasia D  (Moderate dysplasia) 36-50
Severe Severe dysplasia E  (Severe dysplasia) 51-106

A comparison of ratings related to elbow dysplasia

OFA (USA) FCI (European) Description
Normal ED 0 No dysplasia
I ED I Mild dysplasia
II ED II Moderate dysplasia
III ED III Severe dysplasia
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