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Hip Dysplasia in Great Pyrenees

Hip dysplasia in Great Pyrenees is a genetic disease that can cause an afflicted dog to walk or run with an altered gait.

Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees are handsome dogs; hardworking and tough with a keen understanding of people. They are gentle, patient and obedient, quick to learn, and eager to please.

Great Pyrenees are the perfect pet for the whole family. They have an interesting mix of independence and selfless concern for others. If you happen to live in a rural area, your Great Pyrenees might wander off at any time to make sure “the borders” are safe. They make superb watchdogs, protective, intimidating, yet calm-natured.

Great Pyrenees need lots of positive reinforcement and rewards when being trained and they are very likely to ignore any training if you’re impatient with them.

Pyrs were made for cold weather. If you live in a year-round hot climate, you’ll need to keep them indoors most of the time or be sure they have plenty of shade and water if left outdoors. One of the traits that bothers some owners is their tendency to drool and slobber when exerting themselves.

Great Pyrenees have been guarding sheep in the Pyrenees Mountains since 1800 B.C. It is believed that they originated in Asia where their excellent sense of smell and intelligence made them valuable to herders on the steep mountain slopes.

Great Pyrenees have large, solid frames covered in coarse, white coats that are either straight or wavy. Their snowy fur can also have patches of gray and tan. They have broad chests and wide backs that lend a boxy look to their bodies. They have wedge-shaped heads with slightly rounded skulls and medium-sized muzzles. Their dark brown eyes have a dignified but alert expression, and their noses and lips are black.

Pyrs can live as long as 10 years. As a large breed, pure-bred dog, they are susceptible to hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia in Great Pyrenees

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that primarily affects large and giant breeds of dogs like the Great Pyrenees, but can also affect medium-sized breeds and occasionally small breeds. It is predominately a disease of purebreds, although it can also occur in mixed breeds.

To understand hip dysplasia and the resulting arthritis, you need a basic understanding of how the dog’s hip joint is affected.

The hip joint is comprised of a ball and socket that forms the attachment of the hind leg to the body. The ball portion is the head of the femur and the socket is located on the pelvis.

In a normal hip joint the ball rotates freely within the socket. The bones are shaped to perfectly match each other with the socket surrounding the ball. To strengthen the joint, the two bones are held together by a strong ligament. The joint capsule, a strong band of connective tissue, circles the two bones to provide added stability.

X-ray of a normal hip joint:

Hip dysplasia is linked to abnormal joint structure and a laxity of the muscles, connective tissue, and ligaments that would normally support the dog’s hip joints. As the disease progresses, the articular surfaces of the two bones lose contact with each other. This separation of the two bones within the joint causes a drastic change in the size and shape of the articular surfaces.

X-ray of a hip joint showing the effects of hip dysplasia:

Most dogs who eventually develop hip dysplasia are born with normal hips, but due to their genetic make-up the soft tissues surrounding the joint develop abnormally. This leads to the symptoms associated with hip dysplasia. The disease may affect both hips, or only the right or left hip.

The symptoms of hip dysplasia in Great Pyrenees cause afflicted dogs to walk or run with an altered gait, similar to a bunny-hop. They begin to resist any movement that requires full extension or flexion of the rear legs. They will experience stiffness and pain in their rear legs after exercising and on first rising in the morning. Climbing stairs becomes difficult if not impossible. Some dogs will limp and are less willing to participate in normal daily activities, including walks they formerly enjoyed.

It appears that the amount of calories a dog consumes, especially during its fast-growth period from three to ten months, has the biggest impact on whether or not a dog genetically prone to hip dysplasia will develop the disease.

Obesity can increase the severity of the disease in dogs that are genetically susceptible and the extra weight will intensify the degeneration of a dog’s joints and hips. Dogs who are genetically prone to hip dysplasia and also are overweight, are at a much higher risk of developing hip dysplasia and eventually osteoarthritis.

Exercise can be another risk factor. Dogs genetically susceptible to hip dysplasia may have an increased incidence of the disease if they are over-exercised at a young age. Moderate exercise like running and swimming is best for exercising young dogs.


Hip dysplasia is primarily an inherited condition.

Through proper diet, exercise, and a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, you can slow, and sometimes halt, the progression of this degenerative joint disease while providing your dog with relief from its pain. Winston’s provides many of the raw materials essential for the synthesis of the joint-lubricating synovial fluid as well as the repair of articular cartilage and connective tissue.

You might also want to consider providing your dog with an orthopedic bed, which distributes the dog’s weight evenly and reduces pressure on its joints. It’s perfect for dogs with hip dysplasia or arthritis.

If owners insisted on only purchasing an animal whose parents and grandparents were certified to have good or excellent hips, and if breeders only bred these first-rate animals, then the majority of the problems caused by hip dysplasia would be eliminated.

If you are looking to purchase a Great Pyrenees, now or in the future, the best way to lessen the possibility of getting a dog that will develop hip dysplasia is to examine the incidence of the disease in the dog’s lineage. If at all possible, try to examine the parents and grandparents as far back as three or four generations.

There are different assumptions on how to prevent the progression of hip dysplasia in Great Pyrenees. Poor nutrition, inadequate or improper exercise, and increased body weight may all contribute to the severity of osteoarthritis after the hip dysplasia has developed.

By watching the calories your puppy or young dog consumes and preventing obesity in your dog, allowing only non-stressful types of exercise, are the best things you can do.

Since 1990, Winston’s Joint System and Winston’s Pain Formula have helped heal over twenty thousand dogs from all over the world. Our staff specializes in hip dysplasia, arthritis and all joint, pain and mobility issues.

There is an excellent chance we can help your dog, so please contact us at: or call our toll free number at 888-901-5557.


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