Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow Dysplasia

At present there is no evidence to suggest that elbow dysplasia is a problem in Clumber Spaniels. BVA and the Kennel Club Elbow Dysplasia Scheme has been in operation since 1998. The scheme screens dogs for abnormalities in the elbow joints. A dog’s radiographs (x-rays) are graded by a panel of veterinary experts based at BVA. The following information is taken from the BVA website:

Elbow Dysplasia (ED) simply means ‘abnormal development of the elbow’. The term includes a number of specific abnormalities that affect different sites within the joint. These cause problems by affecting the growth of the cartilage which forms the surface of the joint or the structures around it. Elbow Dysplasia has been identified as a significant problem in many breeds. Importantly, the condition appears to be increasing worldwide. It begins in puppyhood, and can affect the dog for the rest of its life.

Dogs in which Elbow Dysplasia caused lameness are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Their lameness makes their condition obvious. However, there are many dogs with subclinical disease that have an increased risk of producing offspring with Elbow Dysplasia. These animals are not obvious and can only be detected by screening. The elbow dysplasia (ED) grading scheme is based on that of the International Elbow Working Group, IEWG, as follows:

  • Grade 0 = a radiographically normal elbow.
  • Grade 1 = there is no visible primary lesion but secondary new bone (osteoarthritis) up to 2mm in depth is present at any site around the elbow joint.
  • Grade 2 = (a) a primary lesion is visible (eg. medial coronoid disease or ununited anconeal process) without visible osteoarthritis OR (b) no primary lesion is visible but osteoarthritis of more than 2mm and up to 5mm in depth is present at any site around the elbow joint.
  • Grade 3 = (a) both a primary lesion and any amount of osteoarthritis are visible OR (b) no primary lesion is visible but osteoarthritis over 5mm in depth is present at any site around the elbow joint.

The overall grade is that of the worse of the two elbows.

BVA Breeding Advice for Elbows

It is strongly recommended that breeders wishing to reduce the risk of elbow dysplasia should select their breeding stock (both dogs and bitches) only from animals with an overall grade of 0. Dogs with elbow grades of 2 or 3 have marked osteoarthritis likely to be due to ED, with or without a visible primary lesion. There is a significant chance of ED being passed on to the offspring. Dogs with elbow grades of 1 show mild or early osteoarthritis which is also likely to be due to ED. They should only be used for breeding with caution, taking into consideration the ED grades of as many relatives as possible, as well as the results of other health tests and characteristics.

A growing number of Clumber Spaniels are being screened for elbow dysplasia and the results are tabled here – Elbow Scores