Understanding Elbow Scores

“Elbow dysplasia is a complex inherited disorder, which is controlled by a number of different genes and influenced by several environmental factors (e.g. diet, exercise or factors when in the womb before birth, etc.). Each of the genes that help to make a dog’s elbows may have different possible versions, or variants. Some versions increase the risk of elbow dysplasia, while others decrease the risk. Each dog will have a mix of these “good” and “bad” versions of genes, making it very difficult to predict whether a dog will be affected. The impact one version of a gene has might only be slight, but lots of genes having a small influence have a combined additive effect. The way in which these conditions are inherited is not straight forward; hence the name complex inherited disorders. These complex diseases are usually seen across many different breeds and are also described in both cross breeds and mixed breeds…. Ideally dogs with grade zero elbows should be chosen for breeding and at least dogs with a score of 2 or 3 should not be used for breeding.”

(Source: The Kennel Club, Elbow Dysplasia Breeding Advice, http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/…/bvakc-elbow-dysplasia-sc…/)

Understanding the Grading System:

Each elbow is scored between 0-3. Like hip scoring the lower the score the less likely that the dog will have issues later on in life.

Grade 0 – Normal - no change
Grade 1 – changes of less than 2mm of calcification (arthritis)
Grade 2 – changes of 2 – 5mm of calcification (arthritis)
Grade 3 – changes of more than 5mm of calcification (arthritis)

Acceptable Scores

There are currently no restrictions on the parameter of breeding stock with either the NRC(A) or ANKC, so you need to make the enquiry and decide for yourself what you find acceptable.

Helpful Tips:

With a score of Grade 2 or above there is a much greater likelihood of problems occurring in the progeny of these dogs and bitches.The AVA recommends that Normal and Grade 1 scores are acceptable for breeding, Grade 2 and 3 are unacceptable, however, this is a recommendation, not a requirement. Currently in Australia there is no restriction on elbow scores for breeding dogs – the only requirement currently in place is that all Breeding Rottweilers must be scored.

When looking at buying a Rottweiler puppy it is essential that you ask to see the parents’ elbow scores. If the owner of the dogs has not scored their dogs or cannot provide evidence that the dogs have been scored then they are either not an ANKC registered breeder or they are not adhering to the ANKC code of conduct and therefore should be reported.