Hi @Ranchhand- thank you for your response. I have been through an interesting few weeks so sorry for taking awhile to get back with you.
I'll start by saying this: Bear actually does not have torn ligaments. He has "slight hip dysplasia," in fact so slight that the vet doesn't even want to touch them yet.
The Story: I took him to the local vet I have been using for the past two years after I noticed him kind of "carrying" his leg when he walked. I just started my second semester of law school so I wanted to have him x-rayed to have peace of mind about it. The above x-rays and diagnoses are theirs.They also told me he had "severe arthritis" and prescribed him two months of medication until I found a surgeon.
So, relying on their opinion, I found a specialist, and scheduled him for surgery. When we arrived at the specialist, the vet acted really surprised. He had me walk Bear up and down the halls and do a series of stretches and squeezes around his body. Based on this assessment he was "amazed that I even noticed a problem with him." (I have to brag here— he said most dog owners would have no clue and that the only reason he could tell something was abnormal was because he is a "fucking vet" lol). He said that he didn't like the x-rays that were previously taken, and that he wanted to re-take them.
After taking x-rays, he had this to say (paraphrased): "I am really unsure what the other vet was basing their diagnosis on. I found no signs of any arthritis. He does not have torn ligaments. The only thing he does have is some slight hip dysplasia, which, after a long day of outdoor activity, may be causing him some discomfort. I don't recommend the hip replacement yet, because I feel like if I cut him open at this stage, I will do more harm than good."
Here is an X-ray he took… look at the difference: