Hip Dysplasia
Cruciate Ligament
Elbow Dysplasia


Elbow dysplasia is a multifactorial, polygenetic developmental condition affecting many large breeds including newfoundlands.

The term elbow dysplasia refers to several conditions that affect the elbow joint: osteochondrosis of the medial humeral condyle, fragmented medial coronoid process, ununited anconeal process, and incongruent elbow. More than one of these conditions may be present, and this disease often affects both front legs. An affected dog may show forelimb lameness and elbow pain. These conditions may actually be different manifestations of a single disease process, osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) . OCD is abnormal maturation of cartilage (the specialized connective tissue from which bone develops). While this in an inherited defect, environmental factors such as diet, activity, and trauma also have a role in the development and progression of the disease.

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) A fragment of cartilage peels away from the bone, within the joint.

Osteochondrosis of medial humeral condyle  OCD develops on the elbow end of the humerus (the long bone in the front leg above the elbow).

Fragmented medial coronoid process and ununited anconeal process The coronoid and anconeal processes are small bones which fuse with the main part of the ulna as the animal matures. (The ulna and the radius are the two bones which make up the front leg between wrist and elbow). These terms describe the condition where those processes either break off from the ulna, or fail to fuse normally.

Incongruent Elbow The bones which form the elbow joint grow at different rates and do not fit together properly.

Elbow dysplasia is a problem in Newfoundlands.  It affects some dogs clinically but more dogs sub clinically (without showing sign of the disease).  However, when X-rayed the characteristic signs appear.

Lameness usually starts insidiously at  7 to 10 months of age. It is present every day, and may be most obvious when your dog first gets up, or starts to walk or run. The likely outcome depends on how far the disease has progressed when treatment begins. Good clinical results (ie. your dog will not be in pain) are usually seen if treatment starts early, before osteoarthritis (degenerative changes in the joint) has developed. If left untreated, your dog’s pain and lameness will gradually get worse.

Selection of Dogs for Breeding

To prevent Elbow Dysplacia in breed, breeders should look for animals least likely to carry genes which cause the problem into the next generation. This means identifying the dogs with clinical and sub-clinical disease. As both clinical and sub-clinical dogs will have changes in their elbow x-rays, this is the means of identifying affected dogs.

The BVA/KC have a scheme which scores the elbows upon submitting an identified x-ray. The scores are as follows:

Grade 0 No Lesions - clean, normal elbows
Grade 1

Minimal Arthrosis

Sclerosis of the ulna notch

Osteoarthritic change less than 2mm high at any site

Grade 2

Moderate Arthrosis

Osteoarthritic change 2 - 5mm high at any site

Grade 3

Severe Arthrosis

Osteoarthritic change over 5mm high at any site

The greater the degree of Elbow Dysplacia in the parents, the more likely they are to pass it on to their offspring.

Percent Affected Offspring
Normal (0) x Normal (0)
Normal (0) x Mild ED (1)
Normal (0) x Moderate ED (2)
ED (3) x ED (3)


KC/BVA Elbow Scheme

OFFA Elbow Information

OFFA Elbow Form (pdf)

Enigmas of the Canine Elbow (pdf)

What is Elbow Dysplsia?

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