Large dog breeds are more prone to leg injuries than smaller ones simply due to their size. Their size contributed in many ways, such as accelerated growth from puppyhood, more weight to move around, and (often) more energy and vigor when playing. Leg and joint injuries happen; they can range from something as simple as a cut on their pad, to something more severe like a broken bone or a torn cranial cruciate ligament or CCL (colloquially known as ACL).
Here are a few things you will want to be aware of if you own a large dog breed or if you’re looking for a large dog knee brace to help them.
Hip Dysplasia Can Cause Lameness
Hip dysplasia is a heredity problem that becomes more noticeable with time. It’s the abnormal formation of the hip socket, so your dog’s leg doesn’t sit right. This can lead to lameness, arthritis, limping, and pain.
Because of how it affects your dog, it can be worsened by extensive activity, growth rate, and obesity. This means that your puppy may be zooming around the yard without any problems, but as they get bigger, they could slowly develop a noticeable limp.
Treating Canine Hip Dysplasia
If your dog’s hip dysplasia is caught early or is mild, it may not need surgery. There are plenty of conservative treatments for it, such as acupuncture, physical therapy, and a brace that helps support your dog’s leg, thus taking weight off of their hip joint.
A dog leg brace works by wrapping around your dog’s hind leg and up over their back. Though most are designed for cranial cruciate ligament injuries, it works well in assisting your dog move around comfortably. It helps restrict unnatural movement, thus reducing inflammation on their hip joint, and encourages your pup to keep a healthy amount of weight on their limbs.
If your dog’s hip dysplasia gets worse or is caught too late, corrective surgery is an option too. I you decide surgery is the best route, your dog can go through double or triple pelvic osteotomy (performed on puppies less than 10 months old), femoral head ostectomy (creating a false hip joint by cutting off the femoral head), or a total hip replacement. Recovery is long, but your dog will live a healthy and limp-free life after.
Breeds Prone to Hip Dysplasia
Many large breeds are prone to hip dysplasia. Because it’s hereditary, it cannot be prevented nor does it typically develop on its own.
Ten breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia are:
- Clumber Spaniels
- St. Bernards
- American Staffordshire Terriers
- Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
- Golden Setters
Arthritis Can Lead to Limping
As your dog ages, or if they had an injury in the past, you can expect their limbs to get a little stiffer and arthritic. This is completely normal; arthritis is common and not life threatening, though it can cause your dog to limp, not want to move as much, or be in some pain.
Arthritis is pretty easy to spot, especially if you have a senior dog. If you notice they have difficulty moving — especially after they’ve been laying down for a long time — or limping when walking, it’s probably arthritis.
You can use a leg brace to help ease their pain if their arthritis is in their elbow or knees, to prevent muscle atrophy.
10 Breeds Prone To Arthritis
All dogs can get arthritis. This is not a breed-specific ailment, though research suggests it is more common the following dogs:
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- St. Bernard
- Great Danes
- Old English Sheep Dogs
Large Dogs are Likely to Tear Their CCL
Every dog can tear their CCL, big or small. As mentioned earlier, larger dogs are more likely to tear the ligament in their knee due to their weight, growth rate, and energy levels. If you own a larger dog breed (think 50+ pounds), this does not mean your dog will have these problems; it just means that they are more at risk. Here are a couple of breed-specific examples.
Due to their size, St. Bernards and Newfoundlands often develop knee issues either in puppy hood or later in life. This is because of how quickly they grow! Your 40-pound puppy quickly develops into 150+ pounds of fluff in just a year. This is taxing on their body, especially when they still have puppy levels of energy.
In this case, you’ll find that preventive care is essential. Braces from Doggy Brace are designed just for that purpose — to protect your dog’s leg from injury. It works just like a compression sleeve or a knee brace you see on athletes. The braces discourage your pet from making too tight or too quick movements, which is the leading cause for torn CCLs.
Breeds Prone to Torn CCLs
Every dog can tear their CCL. Factoring in weight, growth rate, and energy level, these breeds are more likely to sprain or tear them:
- St. Bernards