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Hip (and elbow) dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia and Glen of Imaal Terriers are a difficult call because Glens, due to their achrondraplasic status, aren’t “normal”. The hips don’t quite sit right in the sockets (shallow)) when they are compared to usual straighter legged dogs so right from the word go they could be considered “slightly dysplastic”. The million dollar question though is do they suffer, as some breeds do, from having this designation thrust upon them?


The overwhelming evidence, up to yet, says that they do not. The arthritis that is often considered something that always happens with any form of dysplasia does not seem to be something that happens with Glen of Imaals. Of course there are Glens that have this complaint but usually it is very senior Glens and it is part of the ageing process.

Breeders are not complacent though as it is not wanted for this “natural” occurrence to develop, unnoticed, into actual-problematical-hip dysplasia and so cause problems in the breed. Some countries have started to advocate x-raying of Glen’s hips (particularly breeding stock) as part of overall health checking but, up to now, nothing has been discovered to make people throw their hands up in horror.


Elbow dysplasia refers to the abnormal development of certain parts of the elbow joint during the growing phase of a dog's life. Some areas of the joint may have a disruption of normal cartilage development or failure to fuse during growth resulting in an uneven joint surface, inflammation, joint swelling, lameness/arthritis and as Glen of Imaal Terriers have an unusual front assembly this diagnosis is sometimes made on a young Glen exhibiting signs of lameness


There have been odd incidences of this condition seen in Glens but some vets have little experience in giant dwarf breeds (which a Glen is) so may not realise there is often a “simpler” explanation and this is the growth plates. These are soft areas of the young bone that grow and add length to the bones until the puppy's bone growth is complete. The Glen, with its characteristic bowed and splayed heavier front, and an enthusiasm for life does sometimes literally jar its own immature frame too much and lameness/soreness can ensue. Usually complete rest will cure this but it must be complete; let a dog start bouncing around again before it is totally sound and you will quickly be back to square one.

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