PennHIP Evaluation


The ONLY provider of PennHIP in the Wabash Valley!

How does this benefit me as an owner or breeder of dogs?

Researchers have been able to demonstrate that the PennHIP method surpasses other diagnostic methods in its ability to accurately predict susceptibility to developing joint disease. The PennHIP method can be performed on dogs as young as sixteen weeks (4 months) of age compared with two years using the standard technique. The ability to receive an early estimate of a dog's hip integrity is important whether the dog's intended purpose will be for breeding, for working or as a family pet. The PennHIP evaluation will also permit breeders to assess the progress they are making with their breeding program as they strive to reduce the amount of hip laxity in their dogs. Pet owners are able to assess their pet's risk of developing joint disease. This enables them to make lifestyle adjustments for their dogs and, if necessary, to enhance the quality of their pet's life.

What is PennHIP?

The PennHIP Hip Improvement Program is a service provided in conjunction with a worldwide network of over 2000 certified PennHIP-trained veterinarians from 24 countries. PennHIP's primary objective is to reduce the frequency and severity of hip dysplasia in all breeds of dogs. PennHIP is attempting to accomplish this goal through the implementation and widespread utilization of a new stress-radiographic technique (X-ray). Through the network of certified veterinarians implementing this technique, PennHIP is amassing a large scientific database on the etiology (cause), prediction and genetic basis of canine hip dysplasia (CHD).

The PennHIP method is a different way to assess, measure and interpret hip joint status. It consists of three separate radiographs: the distraction view, the compression view and the hip-extended view. The distraction view and compression view, developed by Dr. Smith, are used to obtain accurate and precise measurements of hip joint laxity and congruity, respectively. The hip-extended view is used to obtain supplementary information regarding the existence of DJD in the hip joint.

To summarize, PennHIP is composed of three major components:

  • A diagnostic radiographic technique.
  • A network of trained veterinarians.
  • A medical database for scientific analysis.

The Development of Canine Hip Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is a developmental disease. A developmental disease is not present at birth but arises with age. The series of radiographs below illustrate how a loose hip gradually develops osteoarthritis (OA). What is the risk of developing arthritis? Visit HERE for a more detailed discussion!

At six months, this dog's hips exhibit extreme laxity, but no OA.

At 15 months, laxity is accompanied by the development of "mild" to "moderate" OA: the femoral heads appear slightly "flattened", the femoral necks are beginning to thicken and the acetabular rims are in the early stages of remodeling.

At six years, OA has progressed into a "severe" form, marked by extreme bony remodeling of the acetabular cups and the femoral head and necks.

Measuring hip laxity

The PennHIP technique measures the laxity of the joint to determine a quantitative (not qualitative/subjective) assessment of the hips which has been shown to correlate to the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis. 

For more information, go HERE.


Being "In-heat" or pregnant does not effect hip laxity. Visit HERE for more information.

Selective breeding

Due to the dependability and increased accuracy in assessing the likelihood of developing arthritis, breeders can utilize this tool to increase the quality of their lines, decrease the severity and incidence of hip dysplasia, and ultimately increasing quality of the breed.  More can be found HERE.

Why use PennHIP?

A growing body of scientific information from multiple independent laboratories confirms that the PennHIP method surpasses other diagnostic methods in its ability to measure hip joint laxity and accurately predict the onset of DJD. The PennHIP method can be performed on dogs as young as sixteen weeks of age compared with two years using the standard technique. The data generated by PennHIP allows breeders to confidently identify the members of their breeding stock with the tightest hips and the best breeding potential. Pet owners are able to obtain an estimate of their dog's risk for developing DJD and, if necessary, make lifestyle adjustments for their dog to enhance the quality of their pet's life. The PennHIP interpretation will also permit breeders to assess the progress they are making with their breeding program.

PennHIP is performed only by certified individuals who have undergone training and have successfully demonstrated their expertise in performing the technique. In addition to the special radiographs developed by PennHIP, the method also incorporates the standard hip-extended view into the interpretation of hip joint integrity. Upon request, your PennHIP veterinarian can make a copy of the hip-extended radiograph for submission to the OFA at the time your dog has PennHIP radiography. You do not have to abandon the OFA view or schedule a separate appointment to have it done.

How does PennHIP differ from evaluation methods which use the hip-extended position?

PennHIP differs from other methods in some very fundamental and important ways:

Scientific Protocol

PennHIP was developed and tested following strict scientific protocol and the results of these studies have been, and continue to be, published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. More than a decade of research and analysis have produced a body of information in support of PennHIP's effectiveness. (As with all diagnostic tests, PennHIP's accuracy is not 100%, but in direct comparisons it is far superior to any other available diagnostic methods.) No other method, published or practiced, has similar compelling scientific support.

Objective Assessment

PennHIP's evaluation protocol quantitatively measures passive joint laxity. Based on the degree of laxity, the individual dog is ranked relative to other members of the same breed. This allows breeders to easily identify animals with tighter hips within each breed. Dogs with tighter hips are less likely to develop osteoarthritis (hip dysplasia). Note that the hip evaluation report is not issued in a subjective pass/fail framework.This approach was adopted because some breeds of dogs have few members with hips tight enough to be considered truly DJD non-susceptible. In such breeds, genetic progress can be made (while still maintaining adequate genetic diversity) simply by breeding dogs in the tighter half of the population. Of course, greater selection pressure equates to more rapid genetic change.

Patient Positioning

Because PennHIP is measuring maximal passive hip laxity, the position of the patient is very different from the hip-extended position. The legs are in a neutral or stance-phase position rather than the conventional hip-extended position. The hip-extended position has been used for more than 37 years to screen hips for either DJD, laxity or both. However, studies have indicated wide diagnostic variability among radiologists in interpreting this view. Further, through biomechanical testing, the hip-extended view was found to mask the underlying true joint laxity and through direct comparison, the predictive value for CHD was shown to be inferior to the PennHIP procedure.


Heritability is an important statistic relating the variation of a trait attributable to additive genetic effects with the total phenotypic variation of the trait. In other words, heritability relates the genetic makeup of a disease or trait with what is actually expressed or observed outwardly. Heritability is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The higher the heritability, the greater the rate of genetic change that can be derived from selection pressure. The accuracy of a diagnostic test to determine disease (in this case CHD), has profound impact on the value of the heritability statistic. Inaccuracy of a diagnostic test acts to lower the estimate of heritability.

The heritability of the diseased phenotype evaluated in the hip-extended view has not been studied in most breeds of dogs in the USA. PennHIP is working with many breed clubs with an interest in determining the heritability estimates for their particular breed. Estimates for the heritability of passive hip laxity (DI) drawn from analysis of full pedigrees for the breeds examined thus far have yielded high values (e.g. for German Shepherd Dogs, heritability = 0.48; Labrador retrievers, heritability = 0.60).

Estimates of heritability of the dysplastic phenotype subjectively scored from the conventional hip-extended radiograph are not available for most breeds of dogs in the USA. Only a few published reports in as many breeds of dogs exist worldwide. To our knowledge, the OFA has not published heritability estimates for the subjective OFA phenotype.

Quality Control

The PennHIP method is based on strict quality control. To take PennHIP radiographs, veterinarians must undergo a training and certification process to demonstrate competency. PennHIP films are critically evaluated and the veterinarians are asked to repeat the procedure if the films do not meet PennHIP's stringent standards. The data generated from PennHIP undergoes regular review and statistical analysis so that useful information, by breed, is available to judge progress toward reducing CHD.

Mandatory Film Submission

For optimal validity, it is mandatory that all hip radiographs by PennHIP veterinarians be submitted for analysis and inclusion in the PennHIP database. This policy eliminates the practice of "prescreening" radiographs and sending only the best hips for evaluation. This "prescreening" practice has been shown to result in a biased database containing a greater frequency of non-diseased hips than actually exists in the true population. Excluding the worst hips leads to a false impression that genetic progress is being made.

More FAQ's

can be found

More facts with research

references can be found

This information was taken from

Contact Us

We'd love to hear from you!


Phone: (812) 448-1415

Fax: (812) 448-2853


965 W. Craig Avenue

Brazil, IN 47834


Monday: 9:00am - 5:00pm

Tuesday: 9:00am - 5:00pm

Wednesday: 9:00am - 7:00pm

Thursday: 9:00am - 5:00pm

Friday: 9:00am - 5:00pm

Saturday: 9:00am - 12:00pm

Sunday: Closed