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The Akita is a large dog breed of the spitz dog type, and like many large dog breeds they also have a higher than normal occurrence rate of hip dysplasia across the breed as a whole. Hip dysplasia is a painful and disabling condition that worsens progressively in affected dogs, but that may not be evident or symptomatic when you first buy an Akita puppy.
It can take up until your dog is aged around two before the symptoms of hip dysplasia will become apparent, if present, which means that any would-be Akita puppy buyer needs to learn the basics of the condition, the symptoms it can cause, and how to give yourself the best chances of buying a puppy without hip problems.
In this article we will look at hip dysplasia in the Akita in more detail, to assist Akita puppy owners and prospective buyers to learn the basics. Read on to learn more.
Hip dysplasia is a condition that arises due to a conformation malformation or anomaly in certain dogs, so the predisposition for hip dysplasia is already present in dogs that become affected with it from the outset. This becomes apparent as the pup leaves their baby stage and begins to grow into a young adult, and the age at which hip dysplasia first becomes apparent in any given dog can be quite variable.
Hip dysplasia might be isolated to one hip or affect both, and is caused by abnormal development of the ball and socket joints that control movement of the legs. If the ball and socket don’t fit snugly together and allow the dog to execute a normal range of movement, problems will arise, which are usually exacerbated by a lack of muscle tone and strength in the ligaments that secure and hold the hip joint snugly in place.
As the Akita pup grows larger and older, this malformation of the hip joint becomes more pronounced, leading to pain, discomfort and an abnormal gait in affected dogs.
Hip dysplasia is a conformation problem rather than something that is contagious or arises for no reason, and the Akita is one of many dog breeds that have higher than normal occurrence rates of the condition. As a large breed, the Akita is at higher risk than many other breeds, due to both the widespread genetic anomaly that causes hip malformation across the Akita gene pool, and the weight and pressure that the size of the breed itself places on the growing, maturing hip joints.
The age at which you will first begin to see hip dysplasia symptoms in Akitas who are developing the condition can be variable, but it is rare for symptoms to begin prior to the age of around six months, or above the age of two years.
This means that the life stage between six months and two years of age is considered to be the danger zone, and the time when you should be especially vigilant about looking out for changes or problems with your dog’s movement and gait.
It is especially important for Akita puppy buyers to know this, as most pups are sold to their new homes at the age of around three months old, and will likely appear fine when you first get your pup, even if hip dysplasia becomes apparent later on.
Hip dysplasia in the Akita causes a range of different symptoms that are progressive and tend to worsen over time. However, the speed of this progression can be variable, as can the degree to which any given dog is affected by hip dysplasia in terms of its severity.
Some of the main symptoms of hip dysplasia in the Akita include hind limb lameness, particularly after exercise, and an abnormal, shortened gait in the hind limbs that may look like a hopping movement.
Dogs with pronounced, severe hip dysplasia may waddle or drag their hind legs, relying on their front limbs to do most of the work.
Hip dysplasia, particularly if severe, will be painful and limiting for your dog, so look out for signs of pain too.
If you buy an Akita puppy from a breeder or private seller, you may not know for some time if your new dog will be affected with hip dysplasia. However, you can greatly reduce the chances of buying an Akita with a predisposition for hip dysplasia by choosing a pup from a litter whose parents were hip scored prior to breeding.
Hip scoring is a numerical score given to any dog to indicate the conformation and quality of their hips, which can indicate risk factors for their prospective litter.
If you choose an Akita from a litter that had both parent dogs tested and good hip scores returned, the chances of your new pup being one of the unfortunate few with hip dysplasia are greatly reduced.
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