Hip Scoring.
At around 12 months of age, when the dog’s skeleton has fully developed, an x-ray is taken of the dog’s pelvis area. This x-ray is then sent from the vet to the AVA they will score this x-ray with each hip of the two hips scoring between 0 (lowest) and 53 (highest). So if both hips are scored the total that dog achieves will be between a TOTAL of 0 and 106 (2 x 53).  

Currently the breed average for a total of both hips sits at around 12.5 for Labradors. So dogs around or under this score have average or better than average hips to give a guide.  the score can also be shown sometimes as two numbers, left hip/right hip - so, something like 5/4 (total of 9 - good) or maybe 33/21 (total of 54 - poor).

Elbow Scoring

A newer scheme and currently less dogs are elbow scored than hip scored. It is gaining in use and many breeders are realising the importance of checking elbows too on their breeding dogs as many 'front end' lameness problems are showing around 6 - 9 months of age and have been for many years.

Usually at the same time as the hip x-rays, a set of x-rays of each of the dogs elbows are taken under general anesthetic. These x-rays are sent, again, to the AVA or DR B Wyburn in WA and scored, by the nature of the joint being different to a hip joint, in a slightly different way.

Elbows are EACH scored only from 0 - 3 (0 being excellent, 3 being very badly affected with problems). The small range of scores available mean that really, only dogs with no more then 1/1 score on each elbow should be bred from.

Scores are usually spoken of only as a single number - so 0, 1, 2 or 3 basically. If the score is uneven, so say, 0 (left) 1 (right) the HIGHER result is used as the dogs single score - so 1

Grading System:

Grade 0       = normal elbows (no enthesophyte formation)

Grade 1       = Mild ED (<2mm thickness of new bone formation)

Grade 2       = Moderate ED or a primary lesion (2mm to <5 mm of new bone)

Grade 3       = Severe ED (5+ mm of new bone formation or UAP)

To summarize, it is the PARENTS of the litter who are scored and not the puppies. This cannot be undertaken until 12 months of age as a minimum but can be done at any age after this. Only dogs that you intend to breed from are typically hip and elbow scored, there is no requirement to score pet puppies that are not being bred from.

The information is for breeder and puppy buyers to decide if the dog is suitable to be bred with. Hip and elbow scoring are done once in a dog’s life only and his scores remain with him for the rest of his life.

Hip scoring has been undertaken now for about 35 years and Elbow scoring for 15 years and so the schemes are well known and well used. 



Breeding dogs with more then the breed average score for hips should be seriously seen as unsuitable for breeding and dogs with 2/2 or more on the elbows should be seriously seen as unsuitable for breeding  


Cost for THR (one hip) and TPO (on both hips) is about $2400 and in over 95% of the cases, the dog requires no further treatment.


Many don't understand about the hips & elbows scores-I hope this information is helpful

Thankyou to guide dogs nsw for supplying me with this information.



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