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Hip Dysplasia in a Lhasa Apso

It may surprise some people that hip dysplasia can occur in a breed so small. Most hip dysplasia and arthritis problems happen to larger breeds. The fact is, that hip dysplasia in a Lhasa Apso is not so rare after all.

Lhasa Apsos

Lhasa Apsos make perfect pets for seniors who are retired, couch potatoes, and families with older children. Lhasas are lively, confident dogs with an elegant appearance. They are clever animals and very protective of their owner.

However, the Lhasa Apso is not a typical lapdog.

They are energetic and outgoing around the house, but they’re also bold and full of gutsy attitude. Lhasas believe themselves to be the protector of the household, and they take their job very seriously. They will develop a close bond with their owner and be suspicious of strangers; but they are restrained in their actions and are good judges of a human’s character.

The Lhasa Apso is very strong-willed and during training it’s important to exercise your authority. They don’t respond to tough training, but they do respect a firm, positive leader. You have to earn the respect of a Lhasa Apso, but once you do you’ll have a best friend for life.

Lhasa Apsos make ideal pets for apartment dwellers. The Lhasa needs minimal daily exercise with fresh air and short walks to keep it healthy. Grooming is a fairly easy task, but if the hair is kept long, daily brushing and an occasional bath will keep the Lhasa looking beautiful.

Lhasas were first used as guards for Tibetan palaces and temples. Their bold and alert demeanor helped guard the interior of the building, while the massive and imposing Tibetan Mastiff guarded the outside. In the early 1930s, the Dalai Lama helped introduce the Lhasa Apso to America and thereafter to other parts of the world.

The Lhasa Apso has a small, sturdy frame covered in a long, dense coat in colors that range from light brown to cream, slate, brown, black and white. Its head, which is draped in long hair, has a square muzzle, black nose, moustache and beard, hanging ears and dark, medium-sized eyes. Its feathered tail curls over the back.

The Lhasa Apso can live as long as 18 years.

Hip dysplasia in a Lhasa Apso

Hip dysplasia in a Lhasa Apso is a common health issue along with kidney problems, respiratory ailments, and skin disorders.

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

To understand hip dysplasia, you first need to understand how the dog’s hip joint is affected.

The hip joint is made up 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.

An example 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.

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.

An example of a hip joint of a Lhasa Apso with hip dysplasia:

The symptoms of hip dysplasia in a Lhasa Apso 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.

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.


Because hip dysplasia in a Lhasa Apso is primarily an inherited condition, there are no products that can prevent its development.

Through proper diet, exercise, and a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, you can slow, and sometimes halt, the progression of these degenerative joint diseases 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 Lhasa Apso 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 hip dysplasia 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 beliefs on ways to prevent the progression of hip dysplasia in a Lhasa Apso. 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, and a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, are the best things you can do for your dog.

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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