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cow hocked


MaryP

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I just got a 6 month-old owner-surrender pb bc on Saturday. I've noticed that she is quite cow hocked in the back legs and she frog-dogs all the time. She never just lays down; she always splays her legs to the side. I have someone interested in her that wants to do sports. But, I'm wondering if this is a sign of potential future hip problems. Does anyone have any experience/insight they want to share?

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(I'm sure someone will come along and correct me, so let me say this is just "one of those things I heard"....)

 

I heard somewhere that dogs who do frog dog actually have a chance at having *better* hips than those that don't. I have no idea about cow-hocked, though.

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I found this online:

 

SIGNS OF CHD IN YOUNG DOGS: What you will see first is a pup that runs with both back legs nearly together, almost like a rabbit would run. After exercise the pup will be reluctant to rise, will sit back as if unsteady and will have difficulty climbing stairs or inclines. The pup might look slightly underdeveloped in the rear quarters. When it stands the rear legs may not be parallel, but rather too near each other at the hocks (ankles) called "cow hocked".

 

You might notice a boniness to the pelvic area from lack of good muscle development. Another hint of trouble is an inability to extend the leg backward very far (decreased range of motion). Note: Many pups rest or sleep in a frog-like position with knees extended out to either side - this is a good sign and shouldn't alarm you.

 

In severe cases of dysplasia, the young dog will rock forward to support more weight on the front legs (which can create trouble in the shoulders and elbows). When dogs do this it seems as if they are tip-toeing or walking very lightly on their rear legs. A dysplastic pup will be reluctant to jump or "stand up" on its hind legs. Signs usually being between five and eights months of age. But remember, as we learned above, some dogs do not show any signs at all of hip joint degeneration until mature adults.

 

Source: http://www.thepetcenter.com/xra/hd.html

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Anecdotally, my Craig dog is severely cow hocked (and roach-backed). He looks like a mess, but he is nine years old and has been working regularly since he was a pup. He is fast and turns quickly and is easily capable of running the 400- to 600-yard outruns common in open trials in this part of the country. (He was an open dog before he was given to me this past June.) His hips are sound.

 

Not sure how helpful that is for you...just thought I'd share my experience with a cow-hocked dog...

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My Wick is somewhat cow-hocked, though she doesn't do the frog leg thing. She does run "with both back legs nearly together, almost like a rabbit would run" but her hips are fine (she gets x-rayed every 2 years and she is now 6). She is an excellent sports dog (agility) and hasn't had an injury beyond torn pads/disloacted toes in the 5 years that she's been trialing. I refer to her as "my wee little machine".

 

My Lou is also cow-hocked in the back, and bow-legged in the front. He looks like a train wreck when he's just walking, but on those big 600 yard outruns over hill and dale, he sure looks sound to me.

 

If the potential adopter wants further assurance, have her pay for the dog to be x-rayed. By 6 months, you should have a pretty good idea of "what lies beneath". I did this with Wick, not so much as screening criteria (because I knew I was going to take the miserable little thing even if the films revealed that she was made of noodles), but so I knew what I had to work with physically.

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(I'm sure someone will come along and correct me, so let me say this is just "one of those things I heard"....)

 

I heard somewhere that dogs who do frog dog actually have a chance at having *better* hips than those that don't. I have no idea about cow-hocked, though.

Mojo will assume the flying-frog pose at *every* opportunity! He hardly ever just stands around--if he is motionless for more than five seconds, he's down on the floor like a frog! :D I was initially worried about it, too, but the orthopedic veterinary specialist I asked completely agreed with what Paula said! ^^ [Phew.]

 

DSC01052.edit.jpg

 

The vet told me that dogs with bad hips don't have the flexibility to frog-dog because it is too painful for them. Plus, Mojo easily leaps up from any "down" position and slams back down very easily (he will actually hit the deck from a standing position in one motion with a loud THUD, :rolleyes: ), and the vet said that a diminished ability to get up/down is a more likely indicator of HD issues. Mojo's x-rays showed that his hip sockets are great, and we are in training for agility. The only locomotion "problems" he has are slight arthritis in one front wrist (carpal joint), and crabbing and pacing at slower speeds because his back is so short (none of which have to do with hips/elbows), but it's not like I show him in conformation! :D This does bring up the interesting point, though, that hips/elbows are not the only orthopedic issues that can impact athletic performance (Mojo was limping/sore on that front leg for almost a full week, and had to have four weeks of rest earlier this summer), so if the potential adopter is looking at sports, she has to take the whole dog into account. Plus, at six months, you never know what lies ahead, since there are obviously no guarantees that a dog is going to stay sound. At least, though, it doesn't sound like this pup has HD!! :D

 

BTW, I think that cow hocks are caused by the conformation of the knee, and not the hip. They are not a horribly huge deal in horses (most are cow-hocked to some degree, anyway), but depending on the severity, I think that cow hocks *can* cause uneven wear of hooves in very bad cases. Dogs are so much lighter in weight in proportion to the size of their legs, though, so I would think that cow hocks aren't ever more significant than just a cosmetic problem (i.e., moving close behind), but I don't really know for sure. I also remember hearing that good hind end muscle development can alter/improve the appearance of cow hocks over time. Hope that helps!!

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My Wick is somewhat cow-hocked, though she doesn't do the frog leg thing. She does run "with both back legs nearly together, almost like a rabbit would run" but her hips are fine (she gets x-rayed every 2 years and she is now 6). She is an excellent sports dog (agility) and hasn't had an injury beyond torn pads/disloacted toes in the 5 years that she's been trialing. I refer to her as "my wee little machine".

 

I'm so glad to read this! Well, not just for Wick's sake, but because Alex also runs similar to that description. I've been wondering if I should have him x-rayed, since he doesn't show any other HD signs and is very active, with no indication of discomfort. He aspires to be a "wee little machine" like Wick! :rolleyes:

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I've been wondering if I should have him x-rayed, since he doesn't show any other HD signs and is very active, with no indication of discomfort. He aspires to be a "wee little machine" like Wick! :D

If you can find a vet who will do x-rays without anaesthesia (or you can piggy-back it with a procedure that you were going to do anyways that requires the dog to be put under), I would get his hips, elbows and knees done, just so you have a baseline. I don't OFA or Penn Hip my dogs, just trust my vet to read the films and tell me if there's anything that is a concern.

 

Ironically, Bear has the best hips and elbows of the three. He also has the best angulation and layback (not sure what that is, I always thought it was a spin in skating) of the three. In real-life, Bear moves like a drunken camel. I don't put much stake in the whole "excellent hips, excellent elbows" school of thought. I am more of a "sees good, hears good, runs good" kinda gal. :rolleyes:

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Well a certain tan and white someone is getting xrayed this Thursday to be sure nothing is hideously wrong w/ her hips. She has a performance prospect home lined up :rolleyes: and though paws are crossed it turns out well, all indications are that they're in good shape: she doesn't frog dog, but she routinely walks on her hind legs at dinner time, races up stairs, runs w/ one rear leg slightly behind the other, runs and jumps when wrestling w/ ease, and is a fast little bugger going after her ball/frisbee/stick/etc. Should have the results back by Thursday afternoon.

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If you can find a vet who will do x-rays without anesthesia (or you can piggy-back it with a procedure that you were going to do anyways that requires the dog to be put under), I would get his hips, elbows and knees done, just so you have a baseline. I don't OFA or Penn Hip my dogs, just trust my vet to read the films and tell me if there's anything that is a concern.

 

 

I'll second this too! There are some really good vets in Fl, Dr. Brimacomb in Lakeland, that will X-Ray w/o anesthesia. I X-Ray just to know what lies under and if they may be heading for future trouble, not that bad hips will always be a problem it's just good to "know".

 

Good Luck with the little one Erin, hope things come back looking great!

 

Karen

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In real-life, Bear moves like a drunken camel.

:rolleyes::D:D

Sorry, but it's true! Even as a younger dog, he didn't move like the tuxedos. Ah, that's ok, he makes up for it in so many other ways.

 

That's why I don't put a whole lotta stock into these 'perfect' scores that people talk about. I get my dogs x-rayed because they are active dogs, and I want to see how their bodies are holding up to the activities over the years. So far, everyone looks pretty much fine. They are all neutered, so it's really just for my own edification.

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I had a red and white pup who would frog-leg it all the time. When it became obvious that she wouldn't jump on the couch, or on people, etc., I had her x-rayed. She was about six months old. The vet's comment was, "She has the worst hips I've ever seen." The sockets are terribly shallow, the femoral heads are flat and not anywhere near where they should have been. She's about 4 years old now, just had an FHO on one hip, and is awaiting surgery on the other. She was not, however, cow-hocked, but her back feet would criss-cross when she walked and she would stand with her back feet close together like a tripod.

 

I have a cow-hocked female here, and her hips are OFA good. Her line is known for cowhocking, but they have good hips for the most part.

 

Jodi

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I had a red and white pup who would frog-leg it all the time. When it became obvious that she wouldn't jump on the couch, or on people, etc., I had her x-rayed. She was about six months old. The vet's comment was, "She has the worst hips I've ever seen." She's about 4 years old now, just had an FHO on one hip, and is awaiting surgery on the other.

 

Hi, Jodi--wow, I am so sorry to hear about your pup's hip troubles. Just out of curiosity, did she keep trying to lie in a frog position when she started to develop noticeable difficulty jumping on the couch, or even after the FHO? I was just wondering if the pain eventually limited her from being in the frog position, as well.

 

Also, about non-anesthetic x-rays...I didn't get Mojo officially OFA'd, either, because he is obviously never going to be bred (neutered mix), and so I just had my ortho vet read awake films...plus, we didn't have any reason to suspect HD in Mojo's case, anyway. I have been told, however, that positioning is everything with hip films, and if the dog is not in *just* the right position, the films could very well be useless, and that it is very hard to position an awake/struggling dog. I was further told that if the dog is not anesthetized, the hip joints will naturally have some tension to them, and thus, you could get a normal view when, in fact, the dog has HD, which is why I think OFAs/Penn Hips always have to be done anesthetized. Has anyone else heard that?

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I have no experience with cow hocked working dogs.

 

I do, however, have experience with frog leg dogs (my corgies, constantly, and they have fine hips) and cow hocked horses.

 

IMO, and it's really my opinion and not some prevailing wisdom, slightly cow hocked horses can get up underneath themselves a little more, they are a little more springy behind. I don't mind seeing it in a horse (now remember, I do jumpers) as long as it's not severe AND the rest of the leg is good. So there, for what that's worth. I wouldn't buy it in a dressage horse, though, or in anything that might be bred.

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The potential adopters haven't mentioned any concerns because I haven't mentioned anything about the frog-dog or cow-hock to them. I wanted to see if others thought that there might be a concern there for a future sport dog. If so, I would definitely want to mention it and give them the option of having the dog x-rayed. I did have one foster dog's hips x-rayed (at the adopter's expense) and there was a slight defect on one hip and they opted not to adopt the dog. His x-rays were done without anesthetic and my vet said the slight defect could have been the result of the dog moving slightly during the x-ray. So, I'm not sure how much faith I put in "awake" x-rays. That dog was adopted by another couple and he is now doing agility.

 

This dog still needs to be spayed, so I guess I can get the vet's opinion as to whether there is cause for concern when she goes in for her spay.

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Thanks, Karen. That's good to know, since my vet won't do x-rays without anesthesia. I tried with Lilly, but no go. I'd like to have Alex's done, but don't want to put him under. I guess we'll see, since Mary makes a good point, too.

 

So, back to your foster, Mary, I hope it works out.

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For hip xrays I actually want the dog put under - to do them properly, you really have to manipulate the joint into uncomfortable positions (confirmed by a human with hip issues who's had the same view done on her while awake lol), plus I just don't want to risk not getting a good shot in and missing something.

 

Btw, dogs generally are given an injectable, reversible anethesia instead of intubation w/ gas so they are under for shorter periods *and* wake up much quicker. If I remember correctly, the injectable type is also a lower plane of sedation than gas creates.

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Hi, Jodi--wow, I am so sorry to hear about your pup's hip troubles. Just out of curiosity, did she keep trying to lie in a frog position when she started to develop noticeable difficulty jumping on the couch, or even after the FHO? I was just wondering if the pain eventually limited her from being in the frog position, as well.

 

Also, about non-anesthetic x-rays...I didn't get Mojo officially OFA'd, either, because he is obviously never going to be bred (neutered mix), and so I just had my ortho vet read awake films...plus, we didn't have any reason to suspect HD in Mojo's case, anyway. I have been told, however, that positioning is everything with hip films, and if the dog is not in *just* the right position, the films could very well be useless, and that it is very hard to position an awake/struggling dog. I was further told that if the dog is not anesthetized, the hip joints will naturally have some tension to them, and thus, you could get a normal view when, in fact, the dog has HD, which is why I think OFAs/Penn Hips always have to be done anesthetized. Has anyone else heard that?

 

Rain (the HD dog) is my ex-husband's dog. She would frog-leg it right up until December of last year when the ex and I split up. She had the first surgery this past January when she dislocated one of her hips. I've seen her a couple of times since then, but it was right after surgery, and she was still having a hard time doing anything. So, to answer your question, I don't know if she's frog-legging it post-surgery.

 

As far as hip x-rays, since I've had Rain, any new dog I bring in here has their hips x-rayed. I don't want to spend two years training a dog only to find out they are dysplastic and won't be able to work for me for years to come. So I have all my x-rayed. Awake. I send all the results to OFA. The only ones I didn't send in were Rain's. Hers were taken while she was awake also, and it was pretty obvious she was dysplastic. See?

 

(x-ray taken at six months old)

2h5ibra.jpg

 

Jodi

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I have been told, however, that positioning is everything with hip films, and if the dog is not in *just* the right position, the films could very well be useless, and that it is very hard to position an awake/struggling dog.

 

Positioning is "everything" it takes a skilled Vet. There are plenty of Vets in my area, only "one" I would use or I head down to Lakeland. And, he does them and the pictures are perfect, if not, he redoes them. The last 3 I had done had 1 shot and we we out the door. In my experience it takes a knowledgeable and skilled vet, not just any one.

 

I was further told that if the dog is not anesthetized, the hip joints will naturally have some tension to them, and thus, you could get a normal view when, in fact, the dog has HD, which is why I think OFAs/Penn Hips always have to be done anesthetized. Has anyone else heard that?

 

I don't know about the tension or lack there of. I do know that my last 3 were done w/o anesthesia. I work with them ahead of time, teach them to lay flat on their back relaxed and allow me to stretch their rear legs from rubbing them - stifle to hock. Anesthesia is not required with OFA.

 

Karen

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From the ABCA website:

The ABCA Health and Genetics Committee is investigating a promising new technique that measures several factors involved in the development of HD. This procedure involves taking hip x-rays on a sedated dog while the dog is in a kneeling position. This angle is favorable for identifying strengths and weaknesses in the hip joint in a more natural, weight-bearing position. This type of measurement is called a Dorsolateral Subluxation (DLS) measurement. ABCA is planning a study to evaluate this technique in 8-12 month old Border Collies.

 

I was wondering if Mark or Denise could comment on this study? I have read Denise's article from 2001 and I found the whole article very interesting and well-written. This paragraph was particularly interesting to me:

 

Border Collies, on the other hand, do a great deal of quick flanking and lateral movement, quick starts and stops, pivots on the hind legs, and traveling in a crouched position in their work. It seems likely that there needs to be some "give" somewhere for efficient performance, and that give has been selected for. In the same way slight cow hocks allow for efficient performance and have been selected for through the many generations of working stock, so perhaps has some laxity in the hips.

 

For me, I am a fan of "functional soundness", as Denise most aptly puts it in her article, rather than the standardized OFA/PennHip "all dogs' hips should have this much laxity" kind of soundness. This is certainly not to downplay at all the heartbreak of having a young dog with poor hips, nor the expense that their owners go through to try and make their lives comfortable.

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A couple days late:

 

I've heard that slight cow hocks are really good for herding and agility border collies. The way the legs turn enable the dog to push off the ground at sharp angles to make sharp turns. I'm not sure, again, but I'm pretty sure this is what the vet told me.

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