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Breeds With Back, Spine & Hip Problems


There are over 350 recognized dog breeds according to the International Cynologique Federation for Pedigree Dogs. Dog breeds are a display of genetic research and manipulation. Many of these breeds have conditions specific to the breed. Good examples include canine back, hip and spinal conditions. Most of these structural issues are linked to gene manipulation through overbreeding and unethical breeding practices.

Breeding Health Considerations

It's likely dogs have been bred more than any other animal. When humans began domesticating dogs, we took over nature's "natural" choice for reproduction.

Dogs were chosen for aesthetic purposes or fulfilled a specific need. An example of this would be border collies or other herding breeds. Over thousands of years, humans have bred dogs in their image fulfilling every want and desire.

Unfortunately, selective breeding has led to defects and malfunctions. Through natural reproduction, nature has a way of diluting undesirable disease and conformation traits. Over the last century, breeding practices haven't allowed for natural reproduction practices between breeds. Breeding is controlled and often being practised within the same family of dogs (interbreeding) which is an established faux pas of human reproduction and with good reason.

Genetic diseases are unfortunate and many times avoidable. Breeding for desirable traits and financial gain is void of ethical sustainability and compassion.

The Epidemic of Musculoskeletal Weakness

Muscles and bones are among the most frequently affected by birth defects. The smallest and largest breeds have the highest incidences of arthritis and bone fractures. For instance, a Pomeranian jumping off of a simple chair incurs a fractured leg or a Mastiff with debilitating arthritis before the age of two.

Occurring in epidemic proportions, musculoskeletal weakness is a scourge of the average dog owner especially in pure and selectively-bred dogs. A few examples include in-vertebral disc disease, lumbosacral syndrome and hip dysplasia.


In-vertebral disc disease (IVDD), also known as slipped, bulging or herniated disc disease is the most common back problem in purebred dogs. It's usually caused by failing ligaments and defects in confirmation. When ligaments break down, it causes a cascading effect often resulting in herniation and ruptured spinal discs. IVDD is common in small breeds but is still seen in large breeds like Labrador Retrievers, German Shepards, Rottweilers, Pit Bull Terriers and Dalmatians.

IVDD happens when fibrous "gel-like" spinal discs break down and spill out causing pressure-induced pain from lack of cushioning. When the jelly-like material leaks out, the disc loses moisture and becomes calcified, or firm. The calcification can be seen on x-rays. It can occur anywhere on the spine and usually makes it hard for a dog to walk.

The most common breeds affected by IVDD are:



•Basset Hounds


•Cocker Spaniels

•King Charles Spaniels

•Shih Tzus

•Lhasa Apsos




•Toy or miniature poodles

Although these breeds are known to be predisposed to IVDD, years of poor nutrition, inadequate exercise, over-vaccination, and stress can exacerbate their genetic predisposition.

For example, dogs like Dachshunds and Basset hounds are bred for short legs making them genetically predisposed to spinal deformities and pain.

For obvious reasons, smaller dogs jump up and down more, and on and off things. Dog discs aren't designed for compressive force like a human disc because they don't walk upright. This continuous motion compounds spinal compression.

Lumbosacral Syndrome

Disc degeneration from gene influences can contribute to spinal stenosis, or lumbosacral disease. The lumbosacral disc is the last disc in the lower back between the pelvis and last spinal bone. The nerves in the lumbosacral area get compressed eventually progressing to neurological decline.

German shepherds, border collies, and other large breed working dogs are more commonly affected with lumbosacral stenosis. Early onset symptoms appear around age seven.

Dogs with Lumbosacral syndrome should engage in short, frequent walks and avoid strenuous exercise. Minimize jumping, climbing, twisting and turning along with excessive fetching.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia (polygenetic multi-factorial disease) describes poorly formed hip joints. A skeletal condition common in large dogs. However, with consistent unethical breeding practices, hip dysplasia is showing up more and more in small dogs.

The hip functions as a ball and socket. Hip dysplasia indicates a ball and socket with ill development or placement. Instead of a gently sliding movement, the conjunction rubs and grinds together. Over time, this causes deterioration and eventual loss of joint function.

Common Breeds Prone To Hip Dysplasia:

•German Shepherds


•Great Danes

•Saint Bernards

•Neapolitan Mastiffs

•American Staffordshire Terriers




•Catahoula Hounds

•Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

•Golden Retrievers

•Norwegian Elkhounds


•Old English Sheepdogs


•Boston Terriers

•French Bulldogs

•Basset Hounds

Hip dysplasia can be present at birth or develop as dogs age. Excessive movement and grinding causes chronic inflammation and calcium deposits. The ligaments and surrounding joint tissue become weak and aren't able to stabilize the joint adequately. As a result, irritation, pain and scarring occur.

If left untreated, total loss of function can occur. Some older dogs may lose use of their rear legs.

Dogs with hip dysplasia are prone to rheumatic diseases, inflammation and muscle pain, leg and hip deterioration, weak connective tissue and lameness.

Common Signs of Hip Dysplasia


•Pain on palpation (touching) of thigh area

•Lack of interest in play or exercise

•Abnormal gait (swaying)

•Inability or reluctance to climb stairs

•Crying/whimpering with movement

•Hopping (like a bunny) when running

•Slow or difficult getting up from a seated position

•"Clicking" sound when walking

Musculoskeletal Treatment and Support

Strenuous exercise, lack of exercise, poor diet and improper weight can exacerbate these musculoskeletal conditions. You can help reduce the risk of your dog developing back, spine and hip problems even if they're at high risk or genetically predisposed by following some of these simple guidelines. 

Basic Lifestyle Recommendations

Avoid Obesity. Overweight and obese dogs are more prone to experiencing back, spine, and hip pain. Being genetically predisposed doubles the risk.

Feed FreshFeeding a fresh food diet, either cooked or raw, can help your dog lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Fresh and cooked diets bring down inflammation and aren't processed like kibble diets that trigger inflammation in the body.

Gentle exerciseGiving your dog short (15-20 minutes), frequent walks will help minimize joint stress, grow healthy bones, and supports a healthy musculoskeletal system. Avoid tugging and jumping. Both of these actives can aggravate or injure your dog's spine. Get outdoors. Your dog needs fresh air for cellular health. Going outdoors for exercise is key to a healthy, happy canine.

Supporting Care. Massage, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and chiropractic adjustments can help supplement your dog's movement and bring down tension providing tendon and ligament elasticity which helps protect the bone structure.

Supplements and Herbs for Musculoskeletal Support

Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Hyaluronic Acid and MSM combination supplement

There are constituents to help rebuild and support the entire musculoskeletal system. Glucosamine help increase synovial fluid, stimulate cartilage and lessen symptoms of pain and discomfort.

Chondroitin helps control and modify specific enzymes responsible for cartilage degradation.

Hyaluronic Acid helps cushion and lubricate joints through its ability to retain water. It increases lubrication and strengthens ligaments and tendons.

MSM is a natural Sulphur based anti-inflammatory easing pain and interrupting pain signals in the brain.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)

Essential Fatty Acids are anti-inflammatory and help create a balanced diet. They increase blood flow and help with symptoms like stiffness, swelling and pain. Quality EFA's have been clinically proven to help decrease joint swelling and pain. EFA's come from fish source, organic hemp, camelina oil, and ahi flower. If using fish oils, make sure they are purified and heavy metal free. Don't use capsules as the oils can be rancid.


Collagen helps protect connective tissues and lubricate joints. Research backed studies show how supplementing collagen helps keep cartilage healthy and support bone structure in older dogs. Homemade bone broth (from non-GMO, grass-fed sources) is an excellent collagen source.

Dosage for supplemental collagen given twice daily: 1.4 tsp for every 5kg.


Colostrum is the mother's first milk containing cell stimulating growth factors helping reduce pain, repair muscle, bone and connective tissue.

Serve colostrum away from food.

Dosage: 1/4 tsp for every 15 pounds

Vitamin C

According to Dr. Pitcairn DVM, hip dysplasia and arthritic tendencies are in part caused by chronic scurvy, which is a lack of vitamin C. Vitamin C is crucial for ligaments and muscles around the joints, and a lack of it could cause incorrect hip formation. He states:

"…high amounts of vitamin C provided 100% prevention of hip dysplasia in eight litters of German shepherd pups coming from parents that either had the condition themselves or had previously produced offspring with it"

He suggests starting puppies at 4 months on supplementation. You can administer one to two grams daily for up to two years. If diarrhea occurs, cut back dosage until stool normalizes. For normal use give twice daily in food.

Dosage:1/4 tsp for every 30 pounds.

Solomon Seal Root Tincture (Polygonatum biflorum)

Solomon's seal root helps restore damaged cartilage and support connective tissue. It's anti-inflammatory and increases synovial fluid which decreases grinding, repetitive stress and tension.

Dosage: Given twice daily before food: extra-small dogs: 3 drops, small dogs: 4-6 drops, medium dogs: 6-8 drops, large dogs: 9-11 drops and extra-large dogs: 12-15 drops. If using a glycerin extract of Solomon's Seal, double the dosage.

Mullein Root Tincture (Verbascum thapsus.)

Herbalist Matthew Wood teaches the value of Mullein Root when working with spinal issues. "Mullein Root helps moisten and lubricate synovial membranes." It helps ease back pain and bring down inflammation especially when the spine is out of alignment. Mullein is well indicated for spinal inflexibility and dryness.

Dosage: Given twice daily before food. Extra-small dogs: 2 drops, small dogs: 4 drops, medium dogs: 6 drops, large dogs: 8 drops and extra-large dogs: 10-12 drops.If using a glycerin extract double the dosage. 

Marshmallow Root (Althaea officinalis)

An infusion of marshmallow root (1 tsp dried herb to 8 ounces of water steeped for 30-45 min) can help lubricate the joints especially the knees and increase flexibility and ease dryness.

Dosage: Give 1/4 tsp for every 5kg.

Mountain Pine (Pinus Montana) Phytoembryonic Therapy

Mountain Pine Buds are anti-inflammatory with an affinity towards the Musculoskeletal system especially the hip and knees. Pinus helps stabilize and regenerate cartilage and ligaments while strengthening the spine.

Dosage for 1:20 potency given twice daily before food: extra-small dogs: 1 drop, small dogs: 3 drops, medium dogs:5 drops, large dogs: 8 drops and extra-large dogs: 10 drops.

Dosage for 1:200 potency: extra-small dogs: 5 drops, small dogs: 10 drops, medium dogs:15 drops, large dogs: 20 drops and extra-large dogs: 25 drops.

Wild Woodvine (Ampelopsil weitchii) Phytoembryonic Therapy

Wild Woodvine buds help support joints and connective tissue. This remedy is especially good for hip dysplasia. It helps slow arthritic deposits, repair fibrous tissue damage, treat spondylitis, and cartilage damage. 

Dosage for 1:20 potency given twice daily before food: extra-small dogs: 1 drop, small dogs: 2 drops, medium dogs:4 drops, large dogs: 6 drops and extra-large dogs: 8 drops.

Dosage for 1:200 potency: extra-small dogs: 4 drops, small dogs: 8 drops, medium dogs:12 drops, large dogs: 15 drops and extra-large dogs: 15-20 drops. If a rash develops, discontinue.

Full Spectrum CBD Oil (Cannabis sativa) / Organic Only

A 2020 study found that full spectrum CBD oil helped decrease arthritic activity and brought down joint inflammation and swelling. CBD helps bring down pain and systemic inflammation with regular use. Dosages may vary according to product and potency. Angela Ardolino of CBD dog health recommends administering "9 -18mg of CBD oil for pain in dogs situationally or daily. If your dog is still in pain after 10 -15 minutes, administer another 9 -18mg.

Here is a great primer on how to correctly dose CBD:

The dosages above are general and may need to be adjusted for your individual dog. However, feeding a fresh food diet and correct natural supplementation can go a long way in preventing and treating IVDD, lumbosacral syndrome, hip dysplasia, arthritis and other debilitating musculoskeletal conditions.

NOW, we'd love to hear your feedback so LEAVE A COMMENT and feel free to share this with people you think will love it.

Natural lifestyle, naturally health, naturally thriving!!

Haiduc, Scott. "The 18 Breeds at Most Risk of Hip Dysplasia- Is Your Dog on the List?"I Heart Dogs, Homelife Media LLC, date accessed 22 Oct 2021. https://iheartdogs.com/the-18-breeds-with-the-most-risk-of-hip-dysplasia-is-your-dog-at-risk/
Pitcairn, Richard H and Susan Hubble. Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. USA, Rodale, 2005.
Bhathal A, Spryszak M, Louizos C, Frankel G. Glucosamine and chondroitin use in canine for osteoarthrits: A review.Open Vet J. 2017:7(1):36-49. doi: 10.4314/ovj.v7i1.6 / https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5356289/
Marti-Angulo S, Garcia-Lopez N, Diaz-Ramos A. Efficacy of an oral hyaluronate and collagen supplement as a preventive treatment of elbow dysplasia.J Vet Sci. 2014; 15(4):569-574. doi: 10.4142/jvs.2014.15.4.569 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4269601/
Kostoglou-Athanassiou I, Athanassiou L, Athanassiou P. The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Rheumatoid Arthrits.Mediterr J Rheumatol. 2020; 31 (2): 190-194. Published 2020 June 30. doi: 10.31138/mrj.31.2.190
Bello AE, Oesser S. Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature. Curr Med Res Opin. 2006 Nov;22(11):2221-32. doi: 10.1185/030079906X148373. PMID: 17076983.
Lowin T, Tingting R, Zurmahr J, Classen T, Schneider M, Pongratz G. Cannabidiol (CBD): a killer for inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts. Cell Death Dis. 2020;11(8):714. Published 2020 Sep 1. doi:10.1038/s41419-020-02892-1

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Wednesday, October 05 2022

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