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What about Hips and Elbows?
The dogs bred in Germany have a hip rating history of about 5 decades, where in the Germans have carefully selected out the 'not suitable for breeding' hips out of their breeding program. This pertains to the 'pink papered' dogs only as registered with the SV. ie: Those dogs who have gone through the Schutzhund titling process.
The German A stamp: Hip quality rating. Three German ratings, A1, A2, A3, and A6 for a rating on a German Pedigree but done in a foreign country recognized by the SV.
A1: Normal NON deficient hips
A2: Fast Normal. Near normal hips.
A3: Noch Zugelassen. Still allowed for breeding, Fair hips.
A6: Dog's hips rated in a foreign country approved by the SV.
Much more recently, about 2005 I believe, it became also mandatory for breeders who want to have their dogs qualify for 'Pink Papers', to have the elbows rated under the same program.
Historically, elbows have much less problems than hips, but finally, the SV has implemented it as well. For the betterment of the breed, of course.
The reason why I encourage any one interested in breeding a dog to get their dogs hip and elbow ratings done through the German SV is simple: OFA doesn't differentiate the breeds. They receive XY X-ray, take a digital image and e-mail it to three vets who volunteer their services! They have to rate them, Excellent, Good or Fair and if 2 out of the 3 rate them fair and the 3rd rates them Excellent, then it will be "fair".... Of course, they can rate them displastic as well thereby denying the OFA approval. No orthopedic experts involved. Here you fall prey to possibly biased vets, not experts who know what they are looking at.
As opposed to the vet solely hired by the SV who is busy all day long in Hannover Germany rating the hips of ONLY GERMAN SHEPHERDS. Thereby compiling notes and creating the statistics called the ZW (Zuchtwert = Breeding Value) of each dog. This vet at least knows how to compare to the other GSDs hips/elbows he is looking at, which is really only fair.
Your dog is assigned the ZW initially from adding up its parents ZW. Say, the Sire has 101 and the Dam 95. Add these two up to be 196 and divide it by two making it 98. Your dogs' ZW. The more a dog produces progeny with good hips, the lower its ZW goes. So, each time one of your dogs' pups hip/elbow ratings are sent it, it can help and sometimes hinder your dogs' rating.
These numbers are important in order to ensure hip/elbow quality for our future generations. And still, unfortunately, from time to time, you can have a dysplastic dog coming from lines which have been rated for so many years! At least, when you purchase from these lines, you have some assurance that your dog comes from hip/elbow rated Sire and Dams and lessening your chances of dealing with this.
Here a sample of a BADLY positioned Xray by a vet. The dog has a stomach full of food, so he was not put under, which calls for a dog that is squickly, and both legs are turned to the left because of it. The vet in this case told the owner the dog was severely dysplastic! Which it is not. Another Xray taken later on by a vet who knows what he is doing later proved that.
Beware when having your dog X-rayed to ask for a referral from your breeder for a vet who knows how to take Xrays!
Below a sample of dysplastic hips at left and good hips at right.